Volume 10 No. 2
THEORIES OF CONFLICT AND THE IRAQ WAR
The article examines the U.S. decision to invade Iraq from a range of analytic perspectives—realism, liberalism, elite interests, ideological influences, and personal and social psychology—in order to better understand the causes of the invasion decision and implications of the particular case study for general theories of war causes. The analysis distinguishes among different types of causal influences and traces links among the various analytic perspectives.
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF PEACEBUILDING:
The ideology of the liberal peace has propelled the political economies of war-torn societies into a scheme of global convergence towards “market liberalisation”. This orthodoxy was an uncontestable assumption underlying external economic assistance. However, the project faltered under its inherent contradictions and because it ignored the socio-economic problems confronting war-torn societies, even aggravating them by increasing the vulnerability of populations to poverty and shadow economic activity. Although revisionists have embarked on a mission to boost the UN’s peacebuilding capacity and also rescue the Millennium Development Goals, the basic assumptions of the liberal peace are not challenged and potential alternatives are overlooked.
MUTUAL VULNERABILITY AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PEACE AGREEMENTS:
Many argue that peace agreements should contain provisions of extensive power-sharing arrangements and international intervention in order for their implementation to succeed. Yet, despite the presence of these arrangements, many countries fail to implement peace agreements or worse, return to war. Rather, as this paper argues, the implementation of many peace agreements depends on the decision-making environment: After warring factions sign a peace agreement, the promised concessions may result in changes to military or political vulnerability, making each step toward implementation contentious. To successfully implement a peace agreement, the steps taken by the signatories must result in mutually vulnerable political or military states. Importantly, varying levels of political, financial, and military intervention from the international community affect the degree of vulnerability felt by the signatories, subsequently impacting the implementation process. Examples from the cases of Mozambique, Liberia, and Angola are used to illustrate the mechanism of mutual vulnerability.
Feminist transnational organizing produces complex and conflictual relationships. In particular, global conferences are often a place for women to discover their differences. Studying the conflicts that arise during women’s transnational collaboration and how participants negotiate those conflicts helps to illuminate how women from diverse locations develop the relationships and, thus, the social infrastructures necessary for network building. My qualitative study of a budding women’s peace network at the 4th UN World Conference on Women revealed that the NGOs used a dialogic process to address the deep-rooted conflicts triggered by unequal access to network agenda-setting. This dialogic process created a desire for the NGO representatives to work together despite on-going conflicts and facilitated relationships in which future conflicts could be negotiated constructively.
THE POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION:
This paper focuses on the role of language in social life, specifically on discourse as the focus of political struggle, i.e. the struggle for the power of representation. It reports on the results of a discourse analysis of twelve articles posted on Aljazeera’s English website to mark the third anniversary of the al-Aqsa Intifada. The study provides a profile of Aljazeera’s perspective on this second Intifada, outlining the themes used to represent the Intifada, the ideologies revealed by these themes, the characterization of the actors, their actions and the events that make up this conflict, and the attribution of agency. The conclusion points to the utility of including a linguistic perspective in planning interventions for achieving a culture of social and ecological peace.
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