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War and insecurity: legacies of Northern and Southern state formation


Much of the post-Cold War discourse about contemporary warfare posits a binary opposition between a ‘democratic peace’ in the North and the prevalence of virulent ‘new wars’ in the South. This article seeks to qualify these accounts by bringing out the deeper historical and sociological legacies of state formation critical for understanding the emergence of an internal peace amongst developed countries and the continuing insecurity and multiple civil wars in many poorer developing regions. It is argued that two features of Southern state formation – the external imposition of states and the enforced norm against territorial aggrandisement – have significantly constrained the development of many developing states, making it more difficult for them to forge strong, synergistic states whose security concerns are externally- rather than internally-oriented. The article argues that there is, though, much variation in how Southern states have responded to these historical legacies of state formation. The article concludes with a four-fold taxonomy to replace the simple North-South bifurcation, differentiating between developed, globalising, praetorian and failed states and identifying the differing potential for, and incidence of, violent conflict, insecurity, and war within these four types of state.

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* An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2004 BISA Conference at Warwick University and then at a seminar at the London School of Economics in March 2005. The author is grateful for the comments and advice from George Lawson, John Hobson, Bryan Mabee, Michael Mann, Dominic Lieven, Nick Rengger, and Jimmy Kennedy. Further exploration of the arguments in this article, and setting these in a broader analytical framework, see Roland Dannreuther, International Security: The Contemporary Agenda (Cambridge: Polity, 2007).

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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