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Assessing the Societal and Systemic
Impact of Warfare:
Coding Guidelines

Societal Effects of Warfare

Among the societal effects that must be considered in a comprehensive assessment of warfare are the following:

Human Resources:
direct deaths (combatant and non-combatant); indirect deaths (e.g., from collateral fire, induced-famines and droughts, epidemics, medical shortages); direct injuries (both physical and psychological, permanent and temporary); indirect injuries (e.g., crime and victimization, experiential trauma, grief, diminished health and capabilities, increased insecurity); sexual crimes and intimidation (e.g., rape, prostitution, child molestation, gender domination).

Population Dislocations:
costs, traumas, inefficiencies, and indirect effects associated with the displacement, whether for personal-safety, logistic, predatory, retaliatory, or strategic-policy considerations, of large numbers of domiciled people, either within the parameters of the affected society (e.g., internally displaced, forcibly relocated, or sequestered persons) or across societal borders (e.g., refugees, asylum-seekers, emigrants)(the practice commonly known as "ethnic cleansing" contains elements of both as group boundaries are redrawn by conflict).

Societal Networks:
damage and distortions to the fragile fabric of inter-personal associations and the disintegration of relationships and identities based on amity, trust, exchange, mutual-benefit, comity, reciprocity, and deferred gratification, relations necessary for the proper and effective functioning of normative systems (social cooperation, cohesion, coherence, and coordination in politico-legal, economic, professional, and socio-cultural sub-systems).

Environmental Quality:
direct and indirect damage and destruction to general ecosystem; use or release of explosive, corrosive, and devegative chemical compounds and mechanical devices that limit utilization of agricultural resources, foul surface and subterranean water resources, pollute atmosphere, disseminate toxic substances, and destroy wildlife and habitats.

Infrastructure Damage and Resource Diversions:
direct damage, destruction, and over-consumption of material and mechanical infrastructure, resources, and surpluses such as production facilities, storage, transport networks, vehicles, water supplies, croplands, food, medical supplies, etc.; indirect damage to the society's resource and infrastructure bases (opportunity costs) through the official diversion of resources and funding to the war effort and away from infrastructure construction and maintenance and the provision of social services and unofficial diversions to illicit trade in tangible, transportable commodities such as drugs, gold and diamonds, labor and sex, weapons, art and treasures, etc.

Diminished Quality of Life and Non-reciprocal Resource Transfers:
tangible and intangible losses (both short- and long-term) associated with general deterioration in the immediate, aesthetic quality of life, access to basic needs, and future prospects in affected societies; humanitarian crises; capital outflows (e.g., "brain drain," "capital flight"); devaluation and unequal terms of exchange; lack of investment and exchange; losses in human potential due to lowered self-esteem and lowered expectations, self-destructive behaviors, alienation and introversion, and within-group factionalization and victimization.

Warfare Categories

A ten-point scale is used for assessing the magnitude of warfare events and their impact on societal-systems. The scale values are considered to be comparable across time, place, and typologies of warfare (e.g., interstate warfare, wars of independence, civil warfare, ethnic warfare, genocide). The scale is roughly logistical and the orders of magnitude can be considered a ratio scale for analytic purposes. Warfare, like most human collective endeavors, exhibits "economies of scale" at the greater magnitudes; immediate effects such as deaths, dislocations, and physical damage increase dramatically at higher magnitudes whereby the long-term social costs of providing security and attendant damage to societal networks and human capabilities are more strongly affected at the lower magnitudes. In holistic terms, then, warfare's effects on societal-systems are additive, that is, two category 03 events are roughly equivalent to one category 06 event and, so, the values can be aggregated and compared in meaningful ways.

Assessments have been made and scale values have been assigned for all states directly involved in major episodes of political violence in the world since 1946. The coded values can and have been compiled and recorded in a dataset for comparative analysis. The data have been aggregated annually for presentation in a series of global and regional warfare trends graphs and used for assessing global, regional, and local contexts and their effects in quantitative conflict research (i.e., event interdependence and the quality of "neighborhoods"). The data also can be used in assessing systemic trends in conflict management.

In order to aid comprehension of the ten-point categorical warfare scale, descriptive, representative scenarios of the several categorical values are included. Referent figures for population displacements and direct deaths are listed for each category but it must be emphasized that these figures are approximate for conventional scenarios under "standard" conditions. The total effects of warfare result from intensity over time and vary accordingly. For example, direct deaths may be inflated under conditions where combatants' lives are under-valued and refugee flows and humanitarian crises will be much higher under conditions of general poverty, the brutal victimization of civilians, and/or more transient or subsistence livelihoods. What is more important in determining the magnitude of the impact of warfare on a society are the relational goals, available technologies, and relative means of the combatant groups. Of course, the combination and levels of effects vary from case to case but levels across effects will usually coincide. The recent development and application of precision guidance systems to the targeting and delivery of ordnance create unique warfare effects whereby the societal infrastructure may be destroyed while casualty and displacement figures remain low. Contrast this to the development of the "neutron bomb" which has been touted to produce maximum casualties with minimal infrastructure damage. In these futuristic scenarios, one or more of the traditional measures of effects (death, damage, and displacement) may be strongly disproportionate to the holistic effects. The dynamism of human ingenuity confounds generalities, in general. Human reason, however imperfectly, largely restrains the most extreme impulses to deploy destructive technologies.

The range of contemporary events (1946-2006), fortunately, does not provide any examples of categorical values greater than seven (7) as the necessary military technologies are not present in most contemporary warfare locations; some historical events are used for illustration of these more extreme values. Warfare is an inherently self-limiting event. Population and technical capabilities determine the potential for warfare intensity while actual warfare's consumption and destruction of material infrastructure and human resources makes the continuation of warfare dependent on the continued production, procurement, or capture of sufficient quantities of essential war materials. As such, both the conduct and resolution of warfare are especially dependent on external sources of support and recovery, both strategic and humanitarian. Unfortunately, there has been little, systematic study of the external "sustenance" of protracted warfare and, so, both the capacities of war actors and external linkage dynamics remain implicit in the following categories.

Category 10 -- Extermination and Annihilation.
Extensive, systematic, and indiscriminate destruction of human resources and/or physical infrastructure with persistent, adverse effects. The social identity itself is the target of destruction. Greatly disparate power and weapons' technologies and singularity of intent between adversarial groups make this category possible. Historical events that illustrate this category include Japan for a period when it became the location of nuclear warfare in 1945 and German territories during the Holocaust.

Category 09 -- Total Warfare.
Massive, mechanized destruction of human resources and physical infrastructure in a war of attrition, with intentional targeting of both combatant and non-combatant societal factors resulting in widespread destruction and long-term effects. Whole societies are the target for destruction, that is, their capacity for both action and reaction; adversaries are of comparable strength and compromise is unacceptable. Population dislocations often exceed twenty million; deaths exceed five million. Ninety to one hundred percent of societal production is consumed in the war effort. Military victory (unconditional surrender) is prioritized over all other societal and humanitarian values. Historical examples include Germany 1941-45 and the Soviet Union 1940-44.

Category 08 -- Technological Warfare.
Massive, mechanized destruction of human resources and physical infrastructure in a war of attrition with medium-term effects, non-combatants are not systematically targeted although great numbers are directly affected by violence. The adversary's military capabilities are the target for destruction; adversaries are of comparable strength. Population dislocations often exceed ten million; deaths often exceed two million. Sixty to ninety percent of societal production is consumed by the war effort. Society and human capital are prioritized over military victory (capitulation or stalemate are possible). Historical examples are France 1914-18, Germany 1914-18, and Russia 1914-17.

Category 07 -- Pervasive Warfare.
Technology of destruction is extensive but resources and productive capacity are limited and, so, continuation of the war effort is often dependent on supplemental resources from external suppliers. Effects are persistent and development is arrested over the medium- to long-term. Social roles and mobilization are almost entirely determined by the culture of warfare. No location within the society is secure from attack, including the largest cities. Population dislocations often exceed five million; deaths exceed one million. Over fifty percent of societal production is consumed by the war effort. Core issues are considered non-negotiable. Contemporary examples include Vietnam 1958-75, Afghanistan 1978-present, and Rwanda 1994.

Category 06 -- Extensive Warfare.
Technology of destruction is extensive but limited; supplemental resources from external supporters are limited. Effects are persistent and development is arrested over the medium-term. Social mobilization is largely determined by the warfare event but crucial areas are fairly secure from attack. Population dislocations often exceed two million; deaths often range from five hundred thousand to one million. Over forty percent of societal production is consumed by the war effort. Issues of contention are perceived as vital but terms are somewhat negotiable as neither war party has the capacity to unilaterally impose and enforce a lasting settlement. "Ethnic cleansing" is often viewed as a strategic imperative in the struggle to control a territorial and resource base. Contemporary examples include Ethiopia 1974-91, Iran-Iraq 1980-88, Sudan 1983-present, and Bosnia 1992-95.

Category 05 -- Substantial and Prolonged Warfare.
Technology of destruction is at a high level but goals are limited and often ill-defined. Impetus to warfare is often sustained by issue complexities that make negotiation and compromise difficult. Warfare is intense but mostly confined to particular regions. Population dislocations may exceed one million; deaths range from one hundred thousand to half-a-million. Over twenty-five percent of societal production is consumed by the war effort. For challengers, local autonomy may be preferred over complete separation or predominance, allowing negotiated outcomes. Contemporary examples include Guatemala 1966-96, Lebanon 1975-91, Sri Lanka 1983-present, and Somalia 1988-present.

Category 04 -- Serious Warfare.
Available technologies of destruction are at a lower level and/or applications remain limited; challenger groups' authority, discipline, and objectives are often diffuse and/or indistinct. Areas affected by warfare may be extensive but the intensity and the effects are limited, otherwise, warfare is confined to distinct areas and/or periods of time. If armed conflict is protracted, long periods of dormancy will be punctuated by sporadic operations (re)establishing opposing group boundaries. Population dislocations may exceed one hundred thousand in affected regions; deaths range from fifty thousand to one hundred thousand. Contemporary examples include Angola 1961-75, Israel 1967-70, and Liberia 1990-97.

Category 03 -- Serious Political Violence.
Technologies of destruction are limited; objectives are usually focused on strategic authority, including control of human and/or material resources. Long periods of relative quiescence may be punctuated by focused operations targeting armed factions, group leaders, or symbols of defiance. Population dislocations respond to specific, localized operations and may be counted in the tens of thousands; deaths range from ten to fifty thousand. Effects of political violence are unevenly distributed, mainly targeting militias, leaders, and symbolic targets. Contemporary examples include Chile 1974-76, Turkey 1984-present, and Sierra Leone 1991-98.

Category 02 -- Limited Political Violence.
Applied technologies are limited. Objectives may be limited and clearly defined allowing warfare to remain confined or the general support for warfare and/or the nature of the opposition may be weak or resistant to provocation. Events are confined to short periods or specific areas of operation or may involve sporadic acts of terrorism over longer periods. Population dislocations of short duration may occur; attributable deaths range from three thousand to ten thousand. Contemporary examples include Cuba 1957-59, UK 1969-1994, Cyprus 1974, Georgia 1991-93.

Category 01 -- Sporadic or Expressive Political Violence.
Applied technologies are relatively low level; objectives are often diffuse and ill-defined and violent actions occur mainly as an expression of general dissatisfaction and/or social control. Oppositional violence is achieved mostly by small militant groups or confined to a very specific time, target, or location. Small population dislocations of short duration may occur from areas directly affected by violence; deaths usually are less than two thousand. Contemporary examples include US 1965-68, Argentina-UK 1982, and Moldova 1991-97.

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