No New Wars, Just Old Conflicts
Baker, Katie, Newsweek International
Byline: Katie Baker
The age of peace is growing more and more fragile. That's the new warning from the University of Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management, which had previously documented the sharp drop in the number of post-Cold War conflicts to a low of just 20 in 2004. That number spiked back up to 27 the next year and has stayed stable since, but with very disturbing indicators for the future, according to the center's 2010 report. All of the 26 current conflicts, from Afghanistan to Congo, are new or ongoing outbreaks of old civil wars, suggesting that the global subculture of violently failing states is growing more entrenched. And the vulnerability of the 25 nations most likely to see outbreaks of conflict in the near future--measured by factors long associated with war, like unstable governments and hostility to free trade--has spiked in the past two years.
The big reason for this spike is the unfinished march of democracy. Nations that start to build democratic systems are highly volatile in the early years, as Kenya proved by moving quickly from ballots to ethnic bloodshed early last year. New democracies now most at risk of following the Kenyan experience are Congo, Burundi, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Nepal, and Kyrgyzstan. …