DO MOUNTAINS PRODUCE WARS? Judith Matloff had an article in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal (February 25-26) about the violence associated with mountainous regions, whose inhabitants are often warlike and good at it. She takes a broad perspective which connects what for me had been isolated stories about mountain peoples. She takes a long view of history: “Virtually no invader has succeeded in subjugating a highland population since Alexander the Great.” Alexander won over Bactria in Afghanistan—but he did it by marrying a warlord’s daughter.
Matloff points out how much of present day conflicts can be traced to mountain people: “Nearly every separatist struggle by and ethnic minority since World War II has occurred at high altitudes.” She cites Kashmir, Chechnya, Kosovo, Aceh, the Basques and the Kurds.