FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Resolving Ethnic Conflict: Creating a New I Am

Below is a paper I wrote arguing on a multi-pronged approach to resolving ethnic conflict--one that accepts short term violence for the sake of long-term reconciliation.  My complete collection of grad school notes and paper can be found here.

Resolving Ethnic Conflict: Creating a New I Am

For most Americans more comfortable with the concept of civic nationalism, ethnic conflict is a difficult concept to understand comprehensively.  This contemporary American mindset cannot (and should not) mask, however, the bloody primordial relationship between ethnic nationalism and global conflict.  If one is to believe structuralists such as Mueller, these ethnic conflicts will be a regular (if not increasing) occurrence throughout the 21st century as third world nations continue to modernize.  A united international community with unlimited resources might be able to prevent many of these conflicts, however, fiscal realities—and a public reticent to intercede—more often dictate post-conflict recommendations than pre-emptive military action.  What then is the best way to resolve these ethnic conflicts?  Is total resolution an impossible ideal?  How does one define the term best way, as well as its parameters?  In this essay I argue that the best way is an approach that takes the long view—that accepts a short period of violence and instability for the sake of long-term peace and reconciliation.  The approach best suited to do this is a multi-pronged one that emphasizes a liberal democracy tailored to respond to real or perceived ethnic grievances, and an intentional peace-building process that recognizes the nature of group identities as dynamic and incorporates them in the creation of a new worldview.  I begin by discussing the importance of an ethnic conflict’s origin as well as the state’s role in responding to it in determining a solution.  Then I discuss modernity’s role in state formation and its relevance to conflict resolution.  Finally, I analyze the roles of a liberal democracy, civic nationalism and psychocultural interpretation in creating an enduring cessation of ethnic conflict.  

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