"Civil wars cost an estimated $123bn a year, last four times longer than conventional wars and are more likely to recur"by Saul David / April 12, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Civil Wars: A History in Ideas by David Armitage (Yale, £18.99)
We live in an era of civil war, or conflict within states. “Since 1989,” writes David Armitage, “an average of 20 intrastate wars have been in progress at any one moment—about 10 times the national average globally between 1816 and 1989.” Prior to 1945, the vast majority of wars were interstate; now the opposite is true.
This matters because civil wars cost an estimated $123bn a year, last four times longer than conventional wars and are more likely to recur. They also afflict the world’s poorest countries. Yet very few studies have been made of them, an omission that Armitage, a professor of history at Harvard, is determined to rectify. His intention is not to produce an overarching theory, but rather an explanation of why “we remain so confused about civil war and why we refuse to look it in the face.”