The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict. Authors; Authors and affiliations. Barry R. Posen Nuclear Weapon Military Power Ethnic Conflict Military Capability. Posen first discusses security dilemma and then uses this concept to explain two cases: Why Croats and Serbs fought a war, and why Ukraine. 24 Posen, Barry, ‘The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict’, Survival, 35 (), pp. 27–47 CrossRef | Google Scholar, esp. pp. 27–

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Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict – Summary Hub

Emerging groups quickly trying to evaluate the threat held not just by armed enemy combatants, but all groups in close proximity. Comments Please login to be able to comment. First, when offensive and defensive military forces are more or less identical, states cannot signal their defensive intent by the kinds of military forces they choose to deploy. Outside intervention in the affairs concerning at least one nuclear power is, therefore, even more unlikely.

Remember me on this computer. Posen aims to ascertain the differences in ethnic conflict across regions. Therefore, states will choose the offensive if they wish to survive.

Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict

As such, an assessment of military capability and intent may be based on something such as a hotly contested historical event Croat alliances with Nazi Germany and the historical implications that come with this are used by Posen as opposed to the more reliable methods of reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence gathering.

This is a fair assessment page Any forces on hand are etnic for offensive campaign. Secondly, the issue of ethnic minorities and enclaves is raised by Posen.

The belief held that offensive military conglict are more useful to nation states, particularly ones in an anarchic international system, to defensive capabilities. Firstly, a history of warfare and conflict between the groups. Whilst this omission can be attributed to Posen focusing on the actual ethnic violence and how it manifested in a region, as opposed to a global war between Serb, Croat and Bosniak, an insight into the diaspora communities would be useful particularly in regard to the historical grievances argument.


Thus, we should not exaggerate the impact of technology, except nuclear weapons. Relative power is difficult to measure and is often subjectively appraised; what seems sufficient to one state’s defence will seem offensive to its neighbors.

Most Popular The Limits of the State: Posen argues that Croatia overestimated the reliability and influence of the Federal Germany as an ally.

ethnix Posen discusses comparatively minor factors conscription in the previous state, criminal organisations and the proliferation of armsbut the more pressing factors constitute the bedrock of his argument. This competition will continue to a point at which the competing entity has got more power than needed for security.

However, this can lead on to a minor factor — the issue of nuclear weapons. It seems that he assumed that the fall poosen imperial regimes will bring about an anarchical political environment in many countries where ethnic conflicts will be very likely.

Throughout the history of the Balkans there has been a spread of ethnic groups across the states, with the exception of Slovenia. Whilst Germany did support Croatia, this support was not in the form of military intervention.

The geographical proximity of the two states to Western Europe also contributes to the reluctance of both to act in an aggressive manner page The Croat belief, particularly among those on the far right, was that the modern day German state would support the newly founded Croatian state and the Croatian people across a collapsing Yugoslavia.

This assessment was made by the Croats during the Operation Storm.

Absence of a strong state creates an anarchy within the country and makes each group worry about its own survival. The argument is made by Posen that nationalist or aggressive manoeuvres by Russians in Ukraine may have been limited due to Ukraine retaining some of dilemka nuclear weapons from the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Posen alludes to a number of variables that lead to the variance in ethnic conflict across regions.

Conversely, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia was almost absent of foreign intervention and the subsequent effect of this intervention, perceived or otherwise due to a lack of external involvement or political baggage in the region.

Please login to be able to download file. As the past decade has shown, number of ethnic conflicts did not skyrocketed and Posen’s theory was not needed much. Because neighbors wish to remain autonomous and secure, they will react by trying to strengthen their own positions. Why Croats and Serbs fought a war, and why Ukraine and Russia did not. Publication year of the article shows that Posen was trying to come up with a theory by which future ethnic conflicts can be predicted, perhaps even be prevented.

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The ideal time for them to strike, therefore, is shortly after the collapse of centralised power but before the international community chooses to intervene page But during the communist war and famine ofUkrainian president blamed the bolshevicks, not the Russians.

Finally, the role of weapons from the collapsed state, securuty through to successor governments or secessionist movements is one that I feel does not go into enough depth.