Diplomats and international officials like talking about conflict prevention, but they are curiously uncomfortable talking about how conflicts actually work. Instead, there is a never-ending quest to explain the economic or social root causes of today's wars.
These explanations have gained in sophistication to the point that no self-respecting analyst today would ascribe violence to "ancient ethnic hatreds," a phrase that was often applied to the Balkan wars just a decade ago.
Instead, economists talk about how greed and natural resources fuel violence, reducing rapacious governments and marauding rebels to rational economic actors. Political experts prefer to highlight the need for good governance. If Tolstoy was alive today, his classic novel would be called, not "War and Peace," but "Resource-based Conflict and Accountable Public Policy."