Common sense informs us that war between nations - or within a nation between antagonistic groups - is a bad thing. However, while the nation consists most visibly of human components performing everyday mundane acts, it is also made up of other parts that are not always radically altered in principle by the lethal aspects of war. Examples of such components are the economy and other spheres of activity that involve interactions with (and manipulations of) material as well as non-material resources.

Why are some nations capable of thriving during the chaos and devastation of war while others fall apart under the same conditions? I do not refer here to wars fought in faraway lands against foreigners that but rather to wars that are fought within the boundaries of the nation itself.

The first (and perhaps the most critical) of factors that determine into which category a nation will fall is the level of foreign involvement. With extremely rare exceptions, there is an inverse proportionality between the influence exerted by foreign powers within a State that is at war with a part of itself and the ability of the nation to utilise the dark energies unleashed by internecine warfare to power the itself upwards on it's on terms.

It should be mentioned at this point that in writing the preceding (as well as the following) paragraphs) I am not trying to recommend warfare as a tool of either nation-building or, development. This is a wholly objective exercise that seeks only to examine a specific curiosity about the linkage between wars and the growth in the cohesion and prowess (in the assertion of sovereignty) in some nations.

Two indispensable factors whose presence assures development are stability and the energy to conceive and implement the best developmental strategies. Neither of these actually requires that the entirety of the nation be at peace. The example of the USA at the time of it's civil war informs us that a State can still thrive economically even under conditions where as much as 30% of it's population are set against the majority as adversaries and, at this present time, India, a country on it’s way to becoming one of the world’s leading economies, is also the site of a long-running Maoist insurgency that currently affects 40% of it’s territory.

It would appear logical that no opportunity to establish peace must be ignored because peace is always preferable to conflict. However, this is not necessarily true all the time. Sometimes, on the way to stability and sustained development, conflict cannot be avoided - in fact, there are times when if it is offered, an alternative need not be sought; times when conflict must, for the long-term good, be entered into with an uncompromising spirit. When such is the case, the most important task of those who lead is to ensure that they are unmatched where flexibility is required and, unyielding in their exertion of the State’s sovereign power when rigidity is necessary.

In spite of numerous internecine conflicts, India has grown in power because her leaders have kept foreigners out of the country's affairs. On the other hand, Afghanistan and Pakistan have progressively regressed because their leaders (in various spheres of human activities) cannot get enough of foreign interference. It must also be noted that a significant difference in both camps is that in India, it has been possible (more than once) for persons with a guiding ideology diametrically opposed to current rulers to take power without overly causing a disruption to the layer of State power that maintains stability and sovereignty.

Such is not the case in Afghanistan and Pakistan and, such was not the case in Libya, Iraq, or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When it becomes impossible for a mentally moribund (yet physically lethal) governing apparatus to be replaced by a more capable set of people, the country stagnates, regresses, and eventually self-destructs. For the good health of the State, stability followed by the ability/energy to conceive and implement improvements in all spheres of human activity are necessary constants.

What this means is that while the ongoing insurgency that has it’s epicentre in the north-east of Nigeria and the growing agitations by so-called 'Biafrans' should rightly remain matters of some concern to us, the methods that we use in dealing with them have to be ones that will not compromise the long-term stability of our nation. In other words, as at all other times when problems arise, solutions will eventually appear which will offer the possibility of ameliorating the worst of these upheavals’ effects. These solutions, though seeming to eyes that seek immediate remedies to be the most efficacious, will also have the potential to transfer the ideological contagions responsible for each outbreak into other times or spaces. Such solutions must be avoided.

The State's primary tool for thriving in times of chaos is the maintenance of contiguous and ever-expanding pockets of stability within which improvements in all spheres of human activity can be implemented. As long as these exist, regardless of how long violent conflicts last, the nation shall be the eventual victor.


  1. While modern Israel is also an example of a State that has grown in power despite being in a constant state of war (often with a segment of it's own internal population) for decades, it is not used as an example here because it cannot be said with certainty that it would have survived without the unceasing support that it has received throughout all these decades from western powers.
  2. Usage of the labels ‘State’ and ‘nation’ in specific parts of the above essay is deliberate.