Explaining Conflict Duration
This chapter examines the duration of civil wars and the intractable nature of this type of warfare. The length of civil wars steadily increased in the post-cold war period, reaching an average of sixteen years in 1999. This is because such conflicts involve numerous attempts at negotiations, cease-fires, and signed peace agreements, as well as frequent returns to active fighting. With regards to the intractable nature of civil wars, there are explanations that emphasize group goals and balances of power. These include irreconcilable preferences, indivisible goals, asymmetries of power, and security problems. Other explanations focus on perceptions and motivations such as greed, uncertainty, fear, misperception, and the belief that victory is possible. Lastly, some explanations highlight the role of spoilers as well as the contents and enforceability of a peace agreement.
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