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Module 1. Elements

Theory of conflicts:
Structural and Strategic
1.- Structural elements.
2 groups of actors: State actors and non-State actors.
4 basic elements (structural elements) in each conflict, although they treated
in different ways according to the nature if the actors (State or non-State).
They are permanent elements in every conflict whose evolution and
management define each case specifics.
Cause, as element which provides with legitimacy and cohesiveness to the
whole actor and its grassroots. i.e.: decolonization processes, fight on terrorism,
Legitimacy against the enemy. It’s based on the “construction” of the cause,
and it means the amount of moral support that the actor has from its
Population integration and mobilization.
Length of the conflict.
These elements can be exploited also by the aggressor, so they will
be in a double way the core of the defense:
Protection of the provision of services and critical infrastructures
(railroads, electric plants, etc.)
The economic costs of a protracted war. If the war efforts
becomes a bleeding population will be soon demoralized.
Population’s psychological attrition, liked to the aforementioned
Creating (and maintaining) the legitimacy levels of populations
Population cohesiveness, government kind and how they
manage the use of force: repression, protection, administration
or outadministering government, etc.
2.- Strategic elements
They are external elements to the conflict, but with an important impact over the
conflict process. They have to be considered in the strategic, operational and tactical
development of the conflict.
Location. Geographic location. Importance because of the distribution of
population and the involved States.
Size. Determines the State’s capability to spread it’s control over the territory.
Geography. Compartment territories reduces the chances of the insurgency to
spread, but they are advantageous in terms of concealment and links with local
communities. On the other hand, they increase the difficulties of government
control. In opposition to that, a wide open terrain favors government and
administrative structures.
International borders. They can differentiate actors with different interests, but they
can also be a porous line between a State or community and its supporter.
Terrain. It can determine the access of the superior military
capabilities to an environment of battle, i.e., a tank can’t
penetrate the jungle.
Weather. It may influence in the logistic order of both regular
and non-regular forces.
Population. It is the rear of the conflict, the supporting grassroots that
legitimize or delegitimize the struggle with its support or rejection of
the alleged causes.
Economy. The effect of the war over the economy will be also a
restraint for continuing on the war effort.
Theory of conflicts:
external supports.
1.- Definition of external support.
By external support we understand States, suprastate, inter-State
and non-State actors, different from the one where the fight or
conflict takes place.
These external supports can be States, criminal networks, NGOs,
lobbies, etc.
2.- Secondary forces: Sponsor States
Moral support through pressure over international public opinion.
Political support through diplomatic efforts, representation at international
level, etc.
Technical (and technological) support to one’s party military capabilities
(teaching know-how techniques, military advisors, etc.)
Economic support, cover or uncover, through legal and/or illegal networks.
Military support participating in an active role in the conflict as a military
Self-interest or support due to a common interest with one of the parties
Diasporas and refugees. With a different level of cooperation, both sends
money to their homelands, but the second group would be the most
active since their motives to abandon the land are not merely economic
(persecution, repression, political repressive tools, etc.)
3.- Tertiary forces
They make use of force or violence to deploy their influence. Mainly three
Militias: military branch of a political party, tribe, group different from the State,
that provides its group with a service of “protection”, i.e, in places with a
vacuum of power or where the State can’t reach.
International organized crime. The support will probably be focused on
economic relations and logistic aspects, being of special interest the one
related to arms traffic and non-State actor groups, such as insurgent
Private Military Companies (PMCs). Limited role in conflicts, but the fact that
they can deploy a high level of military capability is an element to consider in
the balance of powers and forces, since the power with more economic
solvency can hire these companies an modify the balance of power.
4.- Quaternary forces.
They are unarmed groups which affect one or both of the parties in a conflict .They
exert their influence through non-violent means, as boycotts, support, humanitarian
aid, etc.
NGOs cooperating with the parties in provision of services, which maintain levels of
legitimacy in the weakest actor, who keeps its activity thanks to the international
aid. NGOs have also a role in tactical and geographical intelligence.
International corporations with enough resources to influence in the sign of a
conflict through economic pressure.
Non-State groups.
Mass media working as global perception modifiers. Broader reach after internet
Lobbies, exerting influence at government level in economic and political spheres, and
even modifying also international opinion.
Influential individuals.
Fundamentalist religious organizations that may radicalize their followers on a sense or