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Chapter 3

POLI 212 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Security Dilemma, Ethnic Conflict

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 212
Vincent Post

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Containing Fear (Lake and Rothchild) Reading Notes
Main objective: understand ethnic conflict and collective (national) identities how
Lake and Rothchild see ethnic conflict and how this view is different from the
understanding of ethnic conflict as a product of age-old historical hatreds. Focus on
first part of article (up to p.56)
1) Lake ad ‘othhild dot ie ords: The ost idel disussed
explanations of ethnic conflict are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, simply
rog. p.1. The ost iportat thig for this readig is to figure out a
hat that eplaatio is,  hat is so rog ith it. has to do ith age-old
hatreds seethig elo the surfae:
Ethnic conflict is not caused directly by inter-group differenes, anient
hatreds and enturies-old feuds, or the stresses of modern life within a global
economy. Nor were ethnic passions, long bottled up by repressive communist
regimes, simply uncorked by the end of the Cold War. We argue that intense
ethnic conflict is most often caused by collective fears of the future (groups fear
for their safety, dilemmas arise and potential for violence). This turns into a
security dilemma ethnic activists and political entrepreneurs operating within
groups build upon these fears of insecurity and polarize society. Political
memories and emotions also magnify these anxieties, driving groups further
apart becomes a toxic brew of distrust and suspicion that can explode into
2) On p.43, L&R discuss state weakness as a factor recall the discussion about
the state from last week. What do they mean by state weakness and what is
the role that it can play in ethnic conflict? (in answering this question, also look
at the section on redile oitet p.9-52, look at recommendations on
States that use force to repress groups may appear strong, but their reliance on
manifest coercion rather than legitimate authority more accurately implies
weakness. Even though a state may appear strong today, concerns that it may
not remain so tomorrow may be sufficient to ingnite fears of physical insecurity
and a cycle of ethnic violence. As the state weakens, information failures
become more acute and violence more likely. Stable ethnic relations can be
understood as ased upon a ontrat eteen groups reiproal trust an
e indued y institutions. More poerful groups hae a larger say in setting
the terms of the contract. However, for the less powerful groups to agree
voluntarily to enter and abide by the contract, its interest must also be
addressed, including its concern that the more powerful groups will try to exploit
it. When the balance of ethnic power remains stable (and is expected to remain
stable), well-crafted contracts enable ethnic groups to avoid conflict despite
their differing policy preferences. The ethnic balance of power does evolve over
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