Trends suggest that war dynamics and and terrorism could be (closely) related phenomena

Terrorism 2017, PDF

2011 is the tipping point of the current (first global) war cycle, and also seems to mark a significant increase in terrorist attacks and other organised violence. This could be related phenomena. Source: Global Terrorism Index 2016, Institute for Economics and Peace.

Based on analysis of Great Power war dynamics of the System during the period 1495-1945, I identified four accelerating war cycles (data from Levy).


The System produced four accelerating war cycles during the period 1495-1945.

In 1939, the System (in fact the core of the System: Europe) reached the critical connectivity threshold, produced infinite amounts of tensions (energy), and consequently collapsed. At that point, tensions could no longer be adequately regulated by the anarchistic System.

By means of the fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945), the System produced a phase transition that resulted in the simultaneous implementation of (1) non-anarchistic structures in Europe (the erstwhile core of the System) and (2) a first international order at a global scale of the System.

I showed that each war cycle had an identical life-cycle: A relatively stable period – during which the status quo (the international order) was ‘regulated’ (balanced) by means of non-systemic wars (tension releases) – was in all four cases followed by a systemic war, when accumulated tensions were used (released) to implement an upgraded international order, that again allowed for (population) growth and development (during a next relatively stable period).

The accumulation of tensions (preceding systemic wars) was caused by a network effect. Because of this network effect, issues in the System (of which states were integral components) became too connected to be still able to ‘trigger’ non-systemic wars: Instead of being released, tensions accumulated in the System and caused the System to become eventually critical.

The moment the network effect ‘kicks in‘, I refer to as the tipping point of the relatively stable period. The moment the average size of non-systemic wars starts decreasing, the tipping point of the relatively stable period is reached.

During the period 1495-1945 – when the System produced four accelerating war cycles – the System consistently showed this behaviour.

In my research I also show that following the fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945) – which constituted a phase transition that marks the globalisation of the System and resulted in the implementation of the first global international order – the System started producing a fifth – first global – war cycle.

Data-analysis suggests that the first global war cycle (1945-….) reached its tipping point in 2011. This means that from that point in time (2011) the (now global) System can no longer adequately release tensions (and solve) issues by means of non-systemic wars. Instead, tensions (and related issues) accumulate in the System and ‘push‘ it towards criticality (systemic war). 2011 png

Data-analysis shows the current – first global – war cycle reached the tipping point in 2011: from that moment tensions can no longer be adequately released by non-systemic wars, and instead accumulate in the System.


I argue that radicalisation, volatility in social and political dynamics, fragmentation, and accumulation of unsolved issues, etc. are (related) symptoms of high-tension levels. These are typical characteristics of the System, especially since 2011.

I assume – it seems to make sense – that although Great Powers are at this stage increasingly encapsulated in a network of inseparable issues (that become increasingly connected), other actors – including non-state actors – are not confronted with such restraints, and become in response more ‘active’, and release more tensions by means of violence.

The question is: Is it possible to identify significant increases in violent activity of non-state actors (other than Great Powers), and in terrorist activity since 2011? Does data – trends – support the assumption?

This indeed seems the case, as below figures show:Violence 2000-2015, PNG

This figure shows the trend in organised violence and armed conflict, 1990-2015, Source: Global Peace Index 2017, Institute for Economics and Peace.

Terrorism 2017, PDFThis figure shows the trend in terrorist attacks, 2000-2015, Source: Global Terrorism Index 2016, Institute for Economics and Peace.


These trends are (at least at first sight) consistent with the theory presented on this website and possibly provide additional clues to better understand the dynamics and development of the System.

Further research is required: To be continued.