Ways to prevent war

To prevent and resolve violent conflict we must understand the sources and logic
of war. Two schools of thought currently dominate thinking on the causes of
contemporary conflict. The first sees violence as a response to a range of
grievances including systematic discrimination and human rights violations,
inequalities in wealth and political power, or a scarcity of resources,
particularly where these fall along existing social cleavages such as ethnicity
or religion. The second characterizes war as irrational either originating in
“ancient hatreds,” causing a needless disruption along the normal path to
development, or simply as “mindless violence.” These schools recognize that
leadership can play an important role in stoking the embers of conflict, but
both nevertheless see the principal dynamics of conflict resulting from popular
sentiment. But what if the principal motive behind conflict is greed not
grievance? Profit rather than political power seems to be a growing motivation
If economic rationales do play a major role in the motivations of the warring
factions, this represents a profound challenge to both prevailing schools of
thought. If we recognize that the longevity of conflict can be the result not of
anarchy but of economic gain, then there may be method to the perceived madness
after all. For those that see grievance or a fundamental conflict of interest at
the root of violent conflict the challenge is more profound. If economic gain is
a prominent motivation for armed conflict, the very basis for the resolution of
violent conflict through negotiation is undermined and the search for a
political settlement may be futile. Some argue that economic motivations are
critical to understanding the causes or origins of violent conflict.

Economic motivations play an important role in the persistence of violent
conflict. For regardless of whether economic motivations have played an
important role in motivating armed conflict in the past, if they do so now they
deserve attention. While the international community stresses the need to halt
the disintegration of states and stem the tide of communal violence, the
effectiveness of outside powers in both regards is seriously constrained by
their inability to examine the incentives and disincentives for violence from
the perspective of the aggressors emailprotected (King 1997, p. 81).

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The motivation for fighting can easily change over the course of the conflict.

While the origins or root causes of war may in fact lie in some genuine sense of
grievance, over the course of the conflict greed can become a more prominent
motivating factor. Obviously in practice these distinctions are seldom neat or
clearly identifiable, and it is not difficult to envisage the process through
which a transition from collective political objectives to elite private
objectives occurs. The real fuel for economically driven warfare however comes
from natural resources including tropical hardwood, gems, minerals, oil, and the
The challenge is to restructure economic incentives and disincentives to
encourage conflict resolution and to ensure that future conflict is managed
without recourse to violence. Securing peace after years of war also requires
limiting the benefits that some derive from the continuation of hostilities. In
short, effective peace building must make peace pay and take the profit out of
war. Acting on this conclusion requires a reorientation of our peace building
efforts. First we must ensure that our external interventions do not have
counter-productive consequences, however unintended. Second, the international
community must specifically target their interventions to address the economic
dimensions of contemporary conflicts. Most peacebuilding activities are, in one
way or another, an attempt to strengthen the hand of those that want peace,
particularly civil society organizations. Close cooperation between police and
intelligence services is critical as shadowy networks and complex corporate
relationships must be disentangled before any effective responses can be
considered. Ultimately, profiteering in the midst of conflict cannot be stopped
entirely. As particular routes and networks are closed new ones are sure to
open. What can be done is to routinely disrupt established channels and thereby
reduce profits. And it is here that globalization is of direct benefit. For
while the global transfer of money and resources creates opportunities for
entrepreneurial warlords, it also increases international leverage over them.

Economic sanctions and trade embargoes are one of the principal tools at the
disposal of the international community for ending conflict and maintaining
peace and security. However, sanctions are a form of economic warfare and
economic warfare inevitably promotes economic crime. Fortunately, three
prominent trends evident in the evolution of sanctions policy will also help in
addressing the criminal activity that inevitably follows: an emphasis not only
on the imposition but also on the enforcement


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