Kalil Ashawi / Courtesy Reuters

States of War

How the Nation-State Made Modern Conflict

To explain recent conflicts in countries such as Syria or Sudan, observers have been quick to point their fingers at proximate causes specific to our times: the power vacuum created by the end of the Cold War offered opportunities for rebels to fill the void; the recent globalization of trade flooded the developing world with cheap arms; rising global consumer demand generated new struggles over oil and minerals; jihadist groups spread using networks of fighters trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet such explanations miss a bigger picture. If we extend the time horizon beyond the Cold War to include the entire …

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