IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Some first hand observations

I have been hanging out with graduate students (international relations) and colleagues this week (which is why I haven’t posted very often).  I thought I would, once again, just share a few thoughts and observations.

1.  I was a little surprised and (just) a little dismayed to attend a student’s presentation where he argued that the U.S. needs to fight radical Islamicists “on their level”, taking off the “gloves”, etc…This would mean making some changes in the limitations on the use of violence, covert operations etc… This bothered me because this has been a recurring theme in U.S. foreign policy.  If you go back to the pacification of the Philippines after the U.S. “acquired” them in the Spanish American war, you see that as the Marines’ actions got more and more harsh, there were many statements about how you had to fight those people on their level, using force in a way they would understand.  The same sentiment was often expressed in Viet Nam, where it seemed to lead (indirectly perhaps) to massacres such as the one at My Lai .  It would appear that as occupying forces become frustrated and feel their hands are tied by their rules of engagement, this “temptation” arises almost inevitably.  I’m wondering if history can teach us anything here.  Moving in this direction seems to be fraught with negative consequences.

2.  A colleague presented a paper on who pays for peacekeeping.  His argument was that there will, for the foreseeable future, be shortfalls in funding for this because it does not have the political salience it should in many countries.  Certainly in the U.S. there is little understanding or support for this kind of thing–at least over the longer run.  The media attracts attention to various tragedies, but then that concern dissipates.  I found this argument very interesting, since it seemed to connect to many topics I’ve discussed on this blog.  Peace (understood broadly) is probably possible, but our thinking, our consciousness and political culture have not evolved sufficiently to include it or to give it a high enough priority.  There were even some isolationist sentiments expressed among the students.  That is very strange in the “globalizing world” of the early 21st century.  Where do you “go” to isolate yourself these days?

Anyhow, those are my two initial observations/thoughts about this week.

Maybe more to come later.

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June 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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