Environmental Scarcity as a Cause of Violent Conflict   [open pdf - 2MB]

"Gulf War images of oil soaked birds and burning oil wells continue to generate academic research on the environment as both a victim and a weapon of war. The resulting literature has sensitized policy makers and military leaders to the environmental costs of conflict and military preparedness. Regrettably, this narrow focus obscures a potentially more ominous role for the environment as a cause of conflict. Within the complex web of causality, the increasing scarcity of renewable resources such as fresh water, forests, and arable land portends to be the leading cause of conflict in the 21st century. This monograph proves that environmental scarcity is a cause of violent conflict. Using the Modified Conflict Causality Model and six case studies, the monograph shows that scarcity generates adverse social effects which, in turn, cause violent conflict. After proving causality, the monograph looks at three implications. First, recent Operations Other Than War in Somalia, Rwanda, and Haiti treated the symptoms of scarcity without solving the underlying environmental problems. Consequently, conflicts in those countries are likely to recur, rendering the long-term outcomes of the operations as failures. Second, conflicts arising from environmental scarcity will occur more frequently in the future, threatening U. S. national security interests. Third, doctrine reveals that the Army is unprepared intellectually to contend with scarcity as a cause of violent conflict."

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Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
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