IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

A few words about politics

I don’t usually have much to say about partisan politics.  Some think this odd since I am trained as a Political Scientist.  However, as I’ve argued a few times, I see politics as a dependent variable and as an ascriptive, culturally specific activity.  So, if you want change, which is what this blog is about, after all, you need to change the culture and values from which politics “spring”, so to speak.

However, I had a thought this morning that I thought I would share.  If you follow the current political campaigns, have a listen to see to what extent (if at all) “peace” as we have discussed it in this blog is mentioned and how often and with what priority it figures in the various speeches, press conferences, etc..  The two campaigns I hear most about are the U.S. and the French (remember I live on a French island).  About the only direct references to peace that come to mind immediately, are getting out of Afghanistan and something about Israel and Palestinians.  Personally, I don’t know that these are very strong references to peace since the former is more about ending a conflict rather than establishing or maintaining something more positive; and the latter…well, I don’t know that there is much to say about a peace process which for now seems to produce more conflict and alienation than anything else.

The point here is not to wring hands, but to at least note that peace, in general, is not perceived as important to the electorates candidates are courting.  For instance, in France the incumbent’s slogan(roughly translated) is “A strong France”.  This clearly resonates.  One has some difficulty imagining a candidate running with the slogan “A peaceful France”  or “A France for Peace”.  I think much can be learned about the state of the world from this observation. In fact, a peaceful France would have to be a strong France, but that is not generally understood.  Hopefully, it  will be sooner rather than later.

IGbarb says:  “We used (ie during the Cold War) to say ‘peace through strength’.  Now why not say ‘strength through peace’.

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February 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Globaliz(s)ation and Peace

I am preparing a course that will consider North-South relations, understood broadly (ie not just politics and economics), and I have decided that the best way to organize this material is against the background of globalization.  This has led me to revisit a number of the (very interesting) topics associated with this contemporary buzzword.  One of the most interesting, is, in fact, the very diverse views on whether the “big G” is, fundamentally, good or bad for us; and more specifically in regard to the concerns of this blog, does it promote peace or something else.  You too can have fun with this:  go to Mr. Google and search “globalization and peace”, or “globalisation and peace” if you are in the more British tradition.

I suspect what you will find will be something like the following.  First there are those who draw on some now rather conventional economic reasoning that globalization promotes trade links and trade links are inversely proportional to conflict between/among countries.   This is valid, I think, as far as it goes…but it probably doesn’t go far enough.  After all, there has been a lot of talk about “free trade” vs. “fair trade”.  While globalization might be seen to be promoting the former, it is only indirectly, at best, promoting the latter; meaning that concern about fair trade emerges in reaction to the social, political and economic concerns arising from the excesses of unregulated (ie “free”) trade.  Consider in this regard, coffee.  As I understand it, the dynamics of the global coffee market have created a situation where there are only a handful of firms that actually buy raw coffee beans from growers.  This is what is called an oligopsony–many sellers/few buyers.  As you can imagine these buyers can more or less dictate the price they pay.  In many cases the price is too low for peasant farmers to make much of a living (and hence we have the “fair trade” movement in regard to coffee–Max Havelaar and others), and they have an incentive to grow other crops, which would not be a problem except that the best alternative for them in places like Colombia and elsewhere is coca….which feeds the cartels, undermines governments, etc…etc…. The dynamics are not always that simple, but I think you can see what I’m getting at.  One could multiply examples here, from culture to the environment.

Basically, globalization brings us closer to together and changes, thereby, the ways we think about and deal with our problems.  In itself, it does not foster peace.  Consider, if you are closely linked with a trading partner, this may either cause you to be wary of getting into conflict with that partner, or to be more inclined to intervene (through various means) and try to make sure the “right” decisions are made by that partner (“right” meaning those more closely aligned with your own interests).  It can go either way.

So, what am I saying?  Globalization certainly makes peace more urgent since in a small(er) space more damage is created by conflict.  It therefore creates more possibilities for moving toward peace.  One might even argue that such movement becomes increasingly likely, since its opposite will create more and more problems (not to say tragedies and disasters).  So, once again we come down to the ever present “learning curve”.  How steep is it?  That is exactly what we are finding out every day!

IGbarb says:  “Get out your thinking caps…there is a lot of learning to do (in a hurry)!”

February 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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