Tutorial 1
Causes of Global Conflicts
Readings :
Questions & Answers
P.M.H.Bell, The World since
1945: An International History
pp 531 - 547
Ch 24:
Motivation: Why do states and
peoples act as they do?
1) What are some of the causes of
conflicts stated by PMH Bell in this
National interest
Internal politics & pressure
Economic advantage
Historical baggage
2) National interest usually refer to
security? What are the 3 components in
the safety of the state? Are they of equal
importance? Why?
• Security: the safety of the state, including
its independence, its territory and the lives
of its people.
• No, in war, lives are sacrificed to secure
independence, and in extreme
circumstances countries will surrender
territory or even independence rather than
incur unacceptable loss of life.
3) Give examples of how countries which
put its citizens’ lives above loss of
independence & territory.
Do you think that should be the way a
government should respond in a serious
conflict? Explain your answer.
• Egs. Denmark in 1940 surrendered to
• Baltic states – Latvia, Estonia & Lithuania
accepted Soviet annexation.
4) What could stop American presidents
from pursuing their national interest?
• Constraints applied by Congress, the
mass media and public opinion.
5) What did President Truman use to get
support from the US Congress to
implement the Truman Doctrine with
regard to aid to Turkey & Greece in
• Whipped up anti-communist sentiments.
5) Did President Johnson have problem
rallying the masses for the Vietnam War?
• No, very strong anti-communist feelings,
cannot be accused of being ‘soft on
communism’ as can’t afford to be the man
who lost “South Vietnam”.
6) What may cause a government to
sacrifice national interest in its foreign
policy? Give egs
• Internal politics & pressures / political manipulation
• President Johnson of the US had been determined not to
“lose” South Vietnam to the communists in the 1960s,
allowing the effect of the “domino phenomenon” to
continue. However, domestic opinion was that the war
cost too many lives and resources, pressuring the United
States of America to withdraw from the war.
• As a result, the national interest became a matter of
pacifying opposition at home rather than to pursue its
foreign policy of containing the spread of communism at
that time.
7) How can internal pressure be a cause
for international conflict?
• People had the ability to influence governments to
forgo their current interests and rather pick up an
interest that the people think is important. In such
circumstances, national interest might indeed
become what some important people or group think
it is rather than what is actually best for the country.
• If a state becomes forced to pursue a misled
national interest, it might lead to clashes of national
interests that may be avoided, unnecessarily
causing international conflicts.
8) Give two e.gs of the demands of
domestic pressure on governments in
• To save the life of a national condemned
by foreign court.
• To impose arm embargo on dangerous
government to secure overthrow of an evil
regime e.g. the apartheid regime in South
9) What ideology caused many global
conflicts between 1920s and 1980s?
• Marxism-Leninism /communism
• Soviet Union claimed that ideology was its raison d’etre
and that it was created to fulfill a mission – spread
communism which conflicted with liberal democracy &
capitalism spearheaded by America.
• Resulted in a clash of two superpowers leading to the
cold war.
• Early 1980s – 22 states in Asia, Africa & Europe
comprising a third of the world’s population were
attracted to communism.
10) What is a state?
Political entity, with a government and a territory defined by
specific frontiers
11) What is a nation?
group of people conscious of its own identity.
12) Why is nationalism a more important
cause compared to ideology in global
Has the strongest emotional appeal – appeals to the heart,
commands emotional commitment capable of long
endurance as well as fierce outbursts. Its appeal is
widespread because it is protean. (very changeable; readily
taking on different shapes and forms)
Ideology is usually intellectual & cerebral
10) What is a state?
Political entity, with a government and a territory
defined by specific frontiers
11) What is a nation?
group of people conscious of its own identity.
12) Why is nationalism a more important
cause compared to ideology in global
• Has the strongest emotional appeal – appeals to the
heart, commands emotional commitment capable of long
endurance as well as fierce outbursts. Its appeal is
widespread because it is protean. (very changeable;
readily taking on different shapes and forms)
• Ideology is usually intellectual & cerebral
13) How was nationalism manifested
during and after the Cold War?
• Polish nationalism – Poland vanished from the map
from 1795 to 1918 & 1939 to 1945 and spend over
40 years under Soviet domination before surfacing
• Eastern Europe – removed themselves from Soviet
Union’s iron grip.
• 2000 – the Chechens – fought 2 wars to get
independence but still under Russia
• Sri Lanka – Sinhalese versus Tamil separatists
• 1960s: Cyprus – Enosis (Union with Greece)
14) How is economic advantage a cause
of conflict between nations?
• to maintain or increase wealth or escape from poverty.
• setting up tariffs to protect home industries and
agriculture, by securing control of raw materials or be
attempts of poor countries to attract aid or to cancel their
• 1960 – Western Europe could buy oil from the Soviet
Union more cheaply than elsewhere, but was dissuaded
by the USA from doing so. Why?
• To persuade them not to become too dependent on
imports from the enemy in the Cold War, & increase
soviet revenues.
• 1980s – Europeans bought natural gas from Siberia
despite American arguments.
15) How did Singtel’s buying of Thailand
& Indonesia’s telecom company bring
Singapore into conflict with Thailand &
16)What had caused the Thai &
Indonesia public to react that way?
17) Think of other egs where economic
interests come into conflict with
domestic pressure, prestige and forces
of nationalism.
18) Why is prestige not a worthy cause
for a state to come into conflict with
another country?
• Unmeasurable
• Done at the expense of providing social services
at home.
• egs Poor African states must have their own
national airline & countries bid to stage the
Olympic Games
19) Give an eg of prestige which is not
• Cultural diplomacy to promote one’s language, literature
and art.
20) What is a latent force of conflict in
the 21st century? Why
• Religion
• Founding of Pakistan - successful demand by Jinnah to partition
British India along religious line and set up of a Muslim state)
• Intra-religious division : Majority of Muslims - 90% are Sunnis versus
Shiites mostly in Iran, Pakistan & India
• emergence of Islamic fundamentalists
• 1979 Iranian revolution – founding of Islamic Republic by Ayatollah
Khomeni who supported the Hezbollah (the Party of God) & Hamas
(Islamic Resistance Movement) – fundamental Muslims
• Islamic Fundamentalism - issued fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) – to
kill Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses.
• Islamic terrorists who die as a result of carrying out fatwa can
achieve status of martyr
P.M.H.Bell, The World since 1945: An
International History pp 552 - 565
The World since the Cold War:
New Order and Old Chaos
21) What was the most serious conflict
which occurred in the Balkans with the
end of the Cold War?
• Breakup of Yugoslavia (1989) which produced wars &
massacres lasting for 8 years.
• Many-sided conflict
- Slovenia (Serbs –orthodox Christians)
- Croatia (Catholics with a large no of Serbs
- Bosnia (Presence of Serbs, large Albanian & Muslim
22) What was/were the cause/s?
nationalism & religion
23) Explain the term “Ethnic Cleansing”.
• driving out alien peoples to establish areas
of homogenous population
24) How was this manifested in the
conflict among Serbia, Croatia & Bosnia?
• Creation of Greater Serbia & Greater Croatia
• Serbs drove out Croats & Croats expelled Serbs
& in Bosnia – getting rid of the Muslims
25) What are Basque separatists?
• The radical movement of Basque separatists
(leftist political party) was organized in 1959
when the group known as Basque Fatherland
and Freedom (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna-ETA)
broke away from the much larger Basque
Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista Vasco-PNV).
• The ETA adopted a policy of armed struggle in
1968; creating a terrorist separatist group
operating in the Basque regions of Spain and
26) What is a parallel of the Gulf war
when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990-1991
in history?
• The German annexation of Austria in 1938
27) How did the international community
show that it was not willing to repeat the
1938 mistake?
• United States with 27 other countries
launched an offensive against Iraq.
28) State and explain a positive and a
negative impact with the defeat of Iraq?
• Positive – eg of collective security – the
international community had come into its
• Negative – public opinion in several Arab
countries was for Iraq – revulsion against
the West.
29) Give egs of conflicts in Africa & Asia.
• Africa
- Somalia – a failed state (1991 -?)
- Rwanda (1993-2000) – Movie: Hotel in Rwanda The
true-life story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager
who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their
struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda.
- Congo (Former Zaire) (1998)
- Sierra Leone (1999 – 2000)
Asia – little open warfare: 3 dangerous crisis
India-Pakistan over Kashmir
North & South Korean (pp 562)
30) Give instances of international
cooperation in the 1990s under the aegis
of the United Nations.
a) 1992 – Earth Summit – Rhio de Janeiro (environmental
& ecological problems)
b) 1993 – World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna
c) 1994 – World Conference on Population and
Development at Cairo (Catholics & Muslims found
common ground against secular states)
d) 1995 - World Summit at Copenhagen on Social
e) 1995 – World Conference in Beijing on the position of
31) How beneficial are these world
conferences to the progress of mankind?
• Produced mountains of paper but little by
way of results.
• Revealed profound division between
secular and religious countries & between
rich and poor states, which took widely
different views on the role and rights of
32) Is the United Nations, the guardian of
a world order, effective? So should the
UN cease functioning?
• Between 1991 – 1995 – More than 20 peace-keeping
operations were undertaken
• A number ended in humiliation eg. 1994 – withdrew
from Rwanda without achieving peace
• Somalia – 2 UN operations failed.
• Even so, the UN was taking a more active role than at
any previous time in its history
• Improvement in Sino-Soviet ties (pp 562 – 563)
33) What are the challenges facing the world
today? (pp 564)
• USA : total unwillingness to accept casualties & desire to
create a global economy working on American lines
limited by the generally inward-looking nature of
American society.
• Hesitates between the reality of being the only
superpower and a reluctance to intervene if the costs are
• Division between the industrialized and developed
‘North’ and mainly poor ‘South’.
• Unrestrained immigration
• Terrorism
• Militant Islam
34) Why can’t the study of international
history be an exact science?
• The mixed motives behind actions of
government & people, reasons of state
and national interests can often be
calculated and predicted.
• However, movements inspired by ideas,
beliefs and emotions cannot.
35) Can Singapore be like Switzerland,
sheltered by its traditional neutrality
policy, immune from any external threat?
How can she protect herself just to
settle for relative security?
• Ensure military strength
• Alliances
• Neutrality

Tutorial 1 – Causes of Global Conflicts