The advent of war is usually occasioned by the development of conflict of interest between warring factions; however, the result of the war is usually a resolution that comes from the defeat of one faction or a peaceful agreement between the warring parties. This paper reviews literature that provides information as to reasons behind the duration that wars take. In respect to this, the focus of the literature review is to analyze literatures advanced on the topic of duration of wars. The intention of the literature review is to investigate reasons behind why some wars take a short duration to resolve while others take longer. The findings of the research are such that there are differences in the duration of wars that are attributable to the characteristics that are eminent among warring factions. It is there characteristics that then influence the duration which the war would take. Further, such characteristics include the nature of the leadership in place during the war, the nature of the environment on which the war is fought, the interests at hand, and cost implications etcetera. Fundamentally, the paper provides a detailed review of literature on the reasons for some wars being longer than others.
War is usually occasioned by conflict between and among antagonists whose reasons for waging war on one another are varied as the differences between them. However, the duration that it takes to resolve the conflict or for the war to come to end is based on various characteristics of the warring situation in itself. This paper reviews the literature on the duration of the war that have been advanced by various authors giving reasons and explanations as to why some wars last longer while others do not.The question as to why civil wars last for a certain duration whether long or short in any nature is the matter of discussion and of interest to philosophers, scholars and interested parties who are concerned about what the causes of sustenance in wars are. One such scholar is Shivaji Mukherjee, while his concerns are largely in regards to the relevance of civil war duration he asks a particular question on why insurgencies that is longest in duration usually record low levels of violence. Shivaji’s investigations revealed that the development of civil wars that are characteristically long in duration often record low levels of violence for one simple reason. The reason for this is that locals or insurgents usually instigate the wars, but counter-insurgent measures are usually developed by a neutral entity or force that includes peripheral sons of the soil insurgencies. The conflict dies down in momentum toning down on the instances of conflict occurrences. Hence, there are little instances of violence in wars that take place for a long duration owing to the inclusion of disinterested parties into the conflict. As such, whereas the sons of the soils who are conflicting are up in arms they are deterred from engaging with one another by a neutral force or by people who are not directly concerned with the matters that relate to the war. For instance, when war breaks out, and peacekeepers are brought to a war-torn region atrocities against one another are immediately seen to decline. The intervention of neutral individuals into the conflict causes the escalation of violence to decline (Mukherjee, 2014).Sentiments by Blanchard (2014) in a report to Congress affirm that the conflict is South Sudan is long-standing since it is fueled by an uneasy calm. The false calm is created by the presence of United Nations peacekeeping forces who have established a presence in the country since the conflict raged between powerful forces in the country in early January 2014. Further, the uneasy calm is as a result of United Nations peacekeepers’ interference given they are non-interested parties in the conflict. In this regard, they are not ‘sons of the soil’ per-say; hence, their presence serves to deter escalation of violence. However, the UN peacekeepers’ do not in any way resolve the conflict and that is the reason the conflict in South Sudan has been dragging for long.Another reason for lengthy wars characterized by low levels of violence is attributable to the costs and ramifications associated with such a conflict. The political and economic structure of a conflict may make it difficult for the country’s government to take measures towards ending a certain conflict. Resultantly, the duration of the war continues to take longer than expected which is as a consequence of the government’s reluctance to bring the conflict to an end. Mukherjeee (2014) observes that one of the reasons is that weak rebel groups often pause too small a threat to the existence of the government. Hence, the government may opt not to engage with the rebel group as this may give the group undue attention and, thus, develop its popularity. An alternative approach to addressing the conflict would be to subdue the rebels’ acts of violence to manageable levels and save on economic costs of waging war. The outcome is such that the war drags on for a long duration of time although with minimal confrontations between antagonists, hence, minimal to no violence between warring factions.Similarly, the government may ignore to take the rebel group seriously if the rebel groups’ demands are ridiculously costly and, therefore, unacceptable. To this end, the incumbent government can opt to let the insurgents continue waging war and choose to maintain their acts of violence at manageable levels to avert peaceful negotiations that would amount to the government ceding to the demands of the rebel group that are unacceptable (Mukherjee, 2014). Similar sentiments are shared by Mostafa and Al-Hamdi (2014) who observes that the weaker the rebel groups, the longer a conflict is likely to last. The reason for this scenario is attributable to the fact that a peaceful solution to the conflict may present cost implications that neither the rebel group nor the government is willing to cede on. More precisely when dealing with a rebel group that employs guerrilla tactics of war costly implications in terms of economics, political will and military deployment costs may prove too much. Hence, the government may opt to maintain the insurgency activities at acceptable levels provided they are contained and cannot cause damages beyond certain acceptable limits. Likewise, weak rebels may be reluctant to lay down weapons for fear of reprisals despite the fact that they come to the realization that their objectives are unattainable.On the other hand, strong rebel groups shorten the duration of the conflict since they either topple the government or in turn push the government to expedite conflict resolution mechanisms either through negotiations or forceful means. Primarily, the stronger the rebel group in a conflict the highly likely that the conflict would last for a short period while the inverse holds in the event that the rebel group is weak because the war will tend to drag on (Mostafa & Al-Hamdi, 2014). Nonetheless, other literary works contend that the duration that a conflict takes or that a war take is also directly influenced by the international interests that are placed on the war. For instance if the government is supported by an international conglomerate of countries and the opposition seeks enemies of such countries for support, equally, both sides generate enough support from the international frontier that eventually serves to sustain the conflict for longer duration. On the other hand, if no such international interest is present then the conflict or war is more likely than not last a shorter period (Blanchard, Humud, & Nikitin, 2014).Mostafa and Al-Hamdi (2014) provide evidence that geographical factors are the most influential factors that are responsible for the length or duration of war and conflicts in particular regions. In this regard, various factors that are related to the physical environment on which a war ensues have a direct influence on the duration that the war can take. Foremost, the distance from the capital where the conflict is taking place has a direct implication on the duration of the conflict. In this respect, the further away a conflict is from the capital the longer the duration that it takes to resolve. Furthermore, the physical distance between the capital and the region of conflict is directly proportionate to the cost implication of deploying government troops and resources to subduing insurgents in the region.Secondly, the rough terrain of the region in which the conflict is taking place also has a direct implication on the duration of the conflict. To this end, if rebels are located in a mountainous region or in a thick forest it becomes difficult to deploy army personnel in such regions to get the rebels out of their hideouts. As such, the rebels may have an advantage of concealment that the government personnel may find difficult to bring down. As such, the more difficult the terrain on which a conflict ensues the longer the duration that it takes to resolve and vice versa (Mostafa & Al-Hamdi, 2014). The case of the conflict in Sudan is a good example of rough terrain that has made it difficult for United Nations Peace Keepers’ to maintain the cease-fire among warring factions in the Southern Sudanese country. What is more, the rough terrain is to blame for the continued experience of war in South Sudan as it makes it difficult for the government forces and rebel forces in equal measure to navigate the desert parts and harsh terrain during conflict. As a result, the war continues to drag on to date (Blanchard, 2014).Natural resources have as well been mentioned in a host of literary works as to be behind the lengthening of civil turmoil. Hence, the nearer a conflict is to a natural resource such as oil, wildlife e.g. ivory, coal and natural gas etcetera the longer it is likely for the war to continue before a resolution to the conflict is arrived at. In resource rich areas the reserves are often utilized as sources of financing the conflict, further, interested parties in the natural resource may engage in the activities that encourage the continuation of the conflict in order to benefit from exploitation of the natural resource. Therefore, natural resources’ proximity to the region of conflict has been found to be directly correlated to the duration that it takes to resolve conflicts. In this respect, the nearer a conflict is to a natural resource the longer it takes to resolve the conflict (Mostafa & Al-Hamdi, 2014). The presence of oil in the Sudan can be said to have a direct influence on the escalation of the conflict between North and South Sudan that eventually led to the split between the North and the South. Moreover, the presence of oil in the South is believed to continue to be the cause of conflict in the South Sudan that has recently pitted South Sudanese tribes against one another. Hence, it has been established that natural resources in this case oil in the South of Sudan is the reason for the continued conflict and war that faces the country (Blanchard, 2014).Other literary works have tended to focus on the influence that leadership has on the escalation and sustenance of a conflict in respect to civil war. According to Tiernay (2013), civil war leaders have a great role to play in determining the duration that the war can last. The implications of leadership during war breakouts are such that the leadership can influence the length or the duration of the war. Hence, the leaders engaged in conflict have it within their power to either end the conflict or make it last longer which is essentially an issue of decision making on the part of the leaders. The conflict in Syrian is a good example of a leadership propelled war where the pioneers of the rebellion want to be freed from the oppression by the Russians. To this end, the leadership provides the charisma to the rebellion that has served to sustain the conflict thus far (Blanchard, Humud, & Nikitin, 2014). More importantly, there are three aspects on types of leadership that can be put into perspective in order to understand the role that leadership plays in making a conflict lengthy or short. First, the capture of the rebel leader by the government has the effect of bringing the conflict to a resolution, hence, rebel leaders evade capture so that their troops can remain motivated to continue fighting. When the course of the revolt purely depends on the presence of the leader in the group for guidance and moral; it is more likely than not that when the leader is captured or assassinated the cause would suffer. Eventually, the conflict would cede due to lack of sufficient vision that was provided by the captured or slain leader (Tiernay, 2013).Secondly, the leader of a rebel group who founded the movement or the revolt against the government has substantial influence in sustaining the conflict as compared to if the leader is replaced by another rebel. The reason for this is that the founder of the movement has enthusiasm for his followers that commands support and influence that serves to propel the conflict to continue. An appropriate example is the conflict in Syria where the rebellion is waging war against oppression by the government through the arm of foreign powers such as Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The leadership of the rebellion sustains the conflict through their ideology that primarily serves to provide the drive that sustains the conflict (Blanchard, Humud, & Nikitin, 2014). Hence, the fact that the rebel leader is the founder of the movement the highly likely that the conflict is to last a longer duration and vice versa. The same situation applies in the case where the government leader who presides over a conflict in its initial stages of formation. In this regard, the government leader who first dealt with the insurgency has a high likely chance to subdue the insurgents than if a successor took the responsibility. Therefore, the chances that a conflict lasts longer or shorter can be attributable to the leadership that is in place on either side of the divide. Fundamentally, is the rebel leadership is the founder of the movement the conflict is likely to take longer, secondly, if the rebel leader is killed or captured the conflict is likely to take a shorter duration. On the other hand, if the government leader is the one who responded to the first insurgency, the chances of the conflict ending in a short period are higher than if the government leader delegates the responsibility to a successor (Tiernay, 2013).ConclusionThe literature reviewed present insightful information on various aspects that determine the length or duration of the war. The discussion has delved into the reasons behind some wars being short while others take a long duration of time to resolve. Similarly, the literatures reviewed have as well provided examples in recent times where reasons provided for the duration of the conflict have been found to be existent. The first reason the text has analyzed has to do with interference, where parties who are not engaged in the conflict take part in peacekeeping missions to deter the war, it is usually found that such wars take longer to resolve (Mukherjee, 2014).Secondly, the research has also delved into matters of terrain as very pertinent in determining the outcome of the war in regards to the duration it will take to resolve. To this end, a war that is fought in rough terrain that includes thick forests, desert, far from city center and so on will take longer to resolve. Similarly, the discussion finds that natural resources also have a central role to play in lengthening the duration of conflicts. In respect to natural resources, the literature reviewed finds that oil, natural gas, coal, and ivory, etc. have been found to provide sources of financing conflicts. Hence, the nearer a war is to the source of natural reserves the more likely the conflict is to escalate and take a longer period to resolve (Mostafa & Al-Hamdi, 2014).Similarly, the literature reviewed has also established that the nature of leadership between warring factions can also serve to sustain the war for a longer duration or serve to make it short. For example, a war that is led by a rebel leader who is the founder of the rebels is likely to last longer, on the other hand, a war in which the government leader who encounters the rebels for the first time is likely to end after a short period when compared to if the successor took charge (Tiernay, 2013). Primarily, the literature reviewed herein provides a detailed analysis of various reasons why some wars last a longer period while others last a considerably short period.
Blanchard, C. M., Humud, C. E., & Nikitin, M. D. (2014). Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
Blanchard, L. P. (2014). The Crisis in South Sudan. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
Mostafa, M. M., & Al-Hamdi, M. T. (2014). Visualising the Influence of Geography, Oil and Geopolitics on Civil Wars in the Arab World: A Novel Application of Self-Organizing Maps and Duration Models. Civil Wars, 16(2), 239-254.
Mukherjee, S. (2014). Why are the Longest Insurgencies Low Violence? Politician Motivations, Sons of the Soil, and Civil War Duration. Civil Wars, 16(2), 172-207.
Tiernay, M. (2013). Killing kony: Leadership Change and Civil War Termination. Journal of Conflict Resoultion, 00(0), 1-32.