This issue contains a variety of articles that do not easily coalesce around a particular theme, but all refer to containing the violence wreaked by those with power in the pursuit of self-interested goals, whether they be political, economic, or religious. This violence might appear in the form of a ruthless warlord raping the economy and natural resources, the kidnapping and murder of NGO workers trying to serve the ravaged and oppressed in such countries, or the unilateral actions of a state to impose its will on others or threaten them with weapons of mass destruction.
Our first article, by George Kieh, examines the roots of civil war in Liberia. He notes that the peace imposed after the first civil war laid the seeds of a second civil war. Too often peace settlements aimed at ending fighting do not contain a process for the resolution of underlying social problems. Thus, they become a temporary cessation of violence rather than a real peace. In Liberia there was scarcely two years between the end of the first civil war and the onset of a second. The lack ofÂ an adequate national security regime led to the competition for state power among warlords. Continue reading →
The articles in this issue all relate to the Middle East region from Palestine to Pakistan. This region is perhaps the most resistant to religious pluralism in the world. War and violence are often the result of the attempt by a religious or ethnic group to lay claim on an entire state. A group may want to use the power of the state to redistribute all of the wealth and resources to its own members, or it may fear mistreatment or genocide if another group controls the power of the state.
When a religious group, an ethnic group, or a state claims to have the true understanding of peace and justice, or some monopoly on knowledge, they run into direct conflict with others who make similar claims based on different sacred truths. Continue reading →
Globalization of the worldâ€™s economy and the migrations of people for political and economic reasons has caused a collision of cultures within nearly every country. While vast empires have historically been more pluralistic as they contain migrations of cultural groups from one part of an empire to another, twenty-first century migrations are impacting even the most homogeneous states.
German philosopher Karl Jaspers pioneered the idea of an â€œAxial Ageâ€ that occurred between 800 to 200 b.c.e., when the foundations that underlie current major civilizational spheres came into being: Continue reading →
Introduction to IJWP, June 2008
This issue begins by discussing the elimination of the effects of colonialism and the Soviet Union which were each, in their own way, the result of empire-building. The idea of ruling over the lands of other people has been around as long as recorded human history. While it runs counter to the notion that people have the right to pursue their own destiny, it is an idea that dies hard and continually resurfaces when checks and balances in power are not put in place that would deter the force of conquest.
Succession in Foreign Policy in the Post-Soviet World
Our first article, by Alexander Nikitin on â€œRussian Foreign Policy in the Fragmented Post-Soviet Spaceâ€ looks at the succession or transition of foreign policy in the geographic area vacated by the death, not of a single political leader, but of an entire political regime. Continue reading →
Modern society consists of three major components: culture, government, and the economy. The founders of the United States specified the relationship between culture and government in the first amendment, which forbids the establishment of religion, but they did not make a similar declaration with respect to the relationship between government and the economy. In their day, the economy did not exist in separate concentrations of power since it was mostly based on family-run businesses and farms.
However, human freedom requires freedom in the economic sphere as well as the religious and political spheres. Following industrialization in the nineteenth century, corporations were given more power by the courts, amassed greater capital, and eventually used that power to displace the political and economic power of ordinary citizens. A socialist backlash attempted to use the force of government to plan industrial output. In Europe, these two trends led to different forms of totalitarianism. On the right we had National Socialism and Fascism and on the left we had Communism.
Today the lack of clear relationship between political and economic power is one of the most serious problems facing the United States. Economic planning by the government and businesses procuring government favors lead to the establishment of commerce and the prevention of free exercise in the market. Massive government inefficiency, loss of economic competitiveness, overpriced oil and healthcare, and loss of personal freedom are all unwanted results. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution relating to the economy that is similar to the establishment clause related to religion could be a first step in solving this problem. Continue reading →
â€œWhat Constitutes the Legitimate Use of Force?â€ is a thorny and much debated question in modern political theory and just war doctrine. Under what conditions is the use of force moral? When is it immoral? How much force is enough? What is excessive use of force? Do some types of governments, by virtue of their structure, have a greater right to use force than others? How much force against individuals should be allowed to secure some greater good?Â The articles in this issue each address this issue of the legitimate use of force, directly or indirectly, from a variety of perspectives. Continue reading →
Many of the key issues of our turbulent age are presented in this issue of IJWP. It contains hints of the outline of how a post-Westphalian, post-bipolar world is shaping up. We have not come close to creating a world of peace, but we are learning a few things that I hope we can collectively remember to come closer to the end of a history of abuse of power. Continue reading →
On Thursday, November 8, 2007, representatives of NGOs from around the world gathered in Toronto, Canada for the annual meeting of the World Association of NGOs (WANGO) on the theme â€œEthics and Global Peace: NGO Perspectives.â€ There were many Canadians in attendance. As we learned later, NGOs account for 7.3% of the GDP of Canada, the highest recorded for any country, making it an excellent place to hold a WANGO conference. Continue reading →
From the early United Nations plans for a two-state solution in the Middle East to the present, plans for a two-state solution have come up against immovable obstacles. The original UN plan for Israel would have led to a state that was indefensible in a hostile environment. The plan for a Palestinian state failed to comprehend that the Palestinians, unlike the Jews, had not created an apparatus for self-government. The architects of the plan also failed to allow for the Arab nationalism and anti-colonialism that would impel the Arab states to war and long-term hostility. Continue reading →