Drawing from the literature and interpreting the evidence, this article explores the sources, factors and forces that interact to spark and drive conflict in the post-colonial state and its environment. It advances that the structure of the post-colonial state and its immediate environment is characterised by the juxtaposition of transnational groups and proto states interacting with sovereign entities. This intermestic (international/domestic) environment engenders a security dilemma to which constituent groups and their extraterritorial affiliates respond by seeking to appropriate the totality of the space. Simultaneously, elite systemic forces engage to impose their strategic interests. The state is thus doubly instrumental. Forces from both the first and second levels align in collaborative and confrontational engagements in pursuit of partisan interests. The objectives of the competing loci of power to appropriate the total space or carve out an autonomous Lebensraum instigate a zero-sum game. Coercion is the principal currency of this engagement. Structural factors, principally the incongruous internal construction and the intermestic location of the state, account for the proneness of whole sub-regions to implode. The evolved behaviour of post-colonial states in the post-Cold War period responds to the complex realities of the state and its environment.