International Conflict Resolution Term Paper

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International Conflict Resolution

For policymakers who wish to resolve conflicts - through political, economic, and military tools - there are several proven ways and means of arriving at closure. This paper will review some of those strategies and point to reasons why these approaches have become more difficult since the onset of the Cold War. John J. Hamre and Gordon R. Sullivan, writing in the Washington Quarterly (Hamre, et al. 2002) point out that Afghanistan is an example of a "failed state" that truly needs post-conflict reconstruction politically and socially, and not just militarily.

Once the U.S. attacked the Taliban and seeming drove Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of Afghanistan, it was then appropriate to establish "political, economic, social and security structures" within the nation of Afghanistan to prevent the terrorist organizations from coming back into power there. But this article was written in 2002, and subsequent to this article being published there are signs that the Taliban has regained strength in Afghanistan - and although the Taliban is not as much in control as it was, there are clear indications through terrorist acts on U.S. forces and on the Afghanistan government that the nation is not yet stable.

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What else could the U.S. And its allies have done in Afghanistan - once the main group of radical Islamic fighters had been chased out - to secure the peace and bring economic and political stability? Hamre and Sullivan suggest eight "major alternatives to consider" when approaching the problems of a failed state (p. 86). One option - do nothing - offers the possibility that "the situation will resolve itself" and yet the authors admit that problems with failed states are "complex" and "seldom" have the right stuff to sort themselves out. Additionally, the problems associated with the reasons for the state to have failed - "more often than not" - lead to a spreading of the crisis and open the door to international criminals and terrorists to move in and take advantage of the lack of order and law (87).

Term Paper on International Conflict Resolution Assignment

A second potential solution according to Hamre and Sullivan is to place a "quarantine" around the failed state. It is not an easy solution, because it entails massive transportation and communication resources, and any potential threats within the borders of the quarantined state must be monitored, intercepted, and those efforts require enormously expensive and risky operations on the part of the nation doing the blockade. Number three on the authors' list is to totally give up on the future viability of the failed state, and "carve it up" into pieces. The problem with this strategy is that the smaller states that are created by carving up the bigger state, "...often prove to be unsustainable themselves," the authors continue on page 87. And moreover, the smaller states, while they may well be recognized as politically stable by the international community, cannot always defend themselves against aggression by nearby, bigger and more belligerent states. Kosovo is an example of a weak state that had a tough time defending itself against Serbia.

A fourth concept when it comes to dealing with a failed state, in terms of what policymakers can give consideration to, is attempt to merge the failed state, or absorb it, into a larger nearby state (87). The problem with this solution is that it is rare to locate a more viable state in the neighborhood of the failed state that is willing and able to bring that failed state into its fold. Number five on this list is to "establish some form of international transitional authority" to handle the political, economic, and social aspects of the failed state until it can become solvent and strong enough to stand on its own (p. 88). This has its problems too, albeit the policy has proven reasonably successful within the last decade or so with East Timor, eastern Slavonia, and Kosovo.

The sixth policy option - "promote some sort of a neighborhood watch system" where counties surrounding the failed state play a key role in helping to find solutions. This can turn into a failed policy itself, though, as it turned out to be in Cambodia when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations attempted to play a neighborhood watch role. A seventh option, the authors point out on page 88, is to throw support to one side in a particular conflict in that failed state, and hope for the best. It is a high-risk strategy, though, and in particular has been a failing strategy during the Cold War, according to the authors.

Eighth on their list of potential strategies for post-conflict resolution when a state fails, such as Afghanistan, is to have in place the capacity for and a plan for post-conflict reconstruction. That reconstruction plan must have international backing, and it must be well thought out. It could be said that the United States present involvement in Iraq is an example of a situation where the state failed (when Saddam Hussein was removed from power), and yet the nation that pushed the state over the brink had no post-conflict reconstruction plan.

Meanwhile, in concluding the review of the article by Hamre and Sullivan, the authors offer "The Four Pillars" (p. 91) in terms of categories for post-conflict reconstruction. One is to create a "safe and secure environment" in all aspects of public life for the citizens of the country. Sometimes these nations emerging from conflict have been subjected to "large scale violence" and hence providing security is a high priority. The second pillar is addressing issues of "justice and reconciliation" - and this implies dealing with past abuses through fair and just procedures. The third pillar is to address the social and economic well-being of the nation, in key areas such as education, health, and assuring that emergency relief will be sent to those individuals and communities that were the hardest hit by the conflict.

The fourth pillar (92) is the very important component to any civilized nation: an effective political and administrative institution must be built with a process by which citizens can participate.

According to an article in the journal Foreign Policy, failed states are "much discussed" but they remain "little understood." And the problems surrounding failed states - prior to any conflict resolution strategies being put into place - are "all too similar," the article goes on. Those problems include: "rampant corruption, predatory elites who have long monopolized power," a total absence of the rule of law, along with "severe ethnic or religious divisions."

Meanwhile the United States' efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan - the "two main fronts in the global war on terror" - were non-very productive over the past year (2006). "...Billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile," the article explains (p. 56) unless all that money is "accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy" (Foreign Policy 2007). Indeed, Iraq is listed as the number two on Foreign Policy's list of most vulnerable nations when it comes to instability, "violent internal conflict" and "social deterioration" (p. 56). First on the list is of nations vulnerable to violent internal conflict is Sudan, followed by Iraq, Somalia and Zimbabwe; Zimbabwe has been ruled by Robert Mugabe's iron hand for over 27 years.

In fact, Mugabe is an example of how a failed state stays in the "failed" category because a dictator won't let it heal, won't allow reform (political, economic or social), and can't be pushed from power. An article in the Los Angeles Times (Dixon, 2007), points out that though Mugabe was once a hero because he helped the country push the white minority rulers out, today he is responsible for an economic collapse that is "...worse than that of any country not now at war." Zimbabwe was "one of the most prosperous countries in Africa" but now has turned "beggar, unable to feed its own people or find foreign currency for basics," Dixon writes. This is a case where sanctions by the West have been put into place but have been "ineffective" - and meanwhile Mugabe has "destroyed rivals, rewarded loyalists, manipulated elections, crushed most of the independent media and used violence to maintain power," according to the Times' article. Even "international censure" hasn't stopped Mugabe; in March of 2007, after Mugabe's police "savagely" beat "hundreds of opposition members," he told critics of his policies to "Go hang."

Mugabe has a singular belief, and it is to hold on to power," said Martin Meredith, who wrote the book Mugabe: Power, Plunder and the Struggle for Zimbabwe. "You could attribute the catastrophic state of the economy almost single-handedly to Mugabe and his stupidity," Meredith explained in the Times article.

Adding to the misery of states that already have severe problems is the crisis with reference to climate change. What tools to governments have, do policymakers have, to deal with failed or failing states that also are experience "severe threats to their groundwater,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "International Conflict Resolution" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

International Conflict Resolution.  (2007, December 16).  Retrieved October 31, 2020, from

MLA Format

"International Conflict Resolution."  16 December 2007.  Web.  31 October 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"International Conflict Resolution."  December 16, 2007.  Accessed October 31, 2020.