Ethnic and religious conflicts are not the "age-old,
primordial" conflicts that the newspapers call them.
Such oppositions often have recent origins in the atrocities
of wars or the bureaucratic divisions of colonial rule; and
even animosities of hundreds of years' duration have roots
in history, not in the essential identities of those who fight.
However hate doesn't have to be ancient in order to be a powerful
motivator, especially when it is orchestrated by cynical political
elites to support competition over territory, resources, and
power. And it is much easier to stimulate than it is to stop.
Case studies of the processes of ethnic conflict must address
the large questions of how and why people can be persuaded
to fight over group difference, and in what political contexts,
as well as the conditions for the resolution of these conflicts.
The interests of governments and rulers must be made a part
of how we understand popular warfare.