The most important war you haven’t heard about is happening in Africa right now. New fighting in Sake, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as M23 takes new ground doesn’t bode well for stability:
In the past week, the rebel force has marched into a string of towns in eastern Congo, culminating in the capture of Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province, and raised serious questions about the future of this vast and often troubled country.
In most of the battles, demoralized government troops abandoned their positions and literally ran for the hills.
James Fearon digs a little deeper in to the lit–asking why is it that M23, numbering according to some estimates at fewer than 3k soldiers—is able to destablize such a large force in a major African country.
But what distinguishes the strong and the relatively weak African states? The ones that have had a lot of coups and/or civil war are not systematically more ethnically diverse, or larger in land area than the rest. They are not much more likely to have had one or another colonial legacy (although former Portuguese and Belgian colonies have been somewhat more civil war prone). Countries with larger populations have been somewhat more at risk for civil wars, but are not much different from smaller African countries when it comes to coups. Beyond saying that it has something to do with quality of leadership, which isn’t very helpful, I don’t think we know why some subSaharan African states are so badly defended, year after year.