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1

in what ways has the international community attempted to resolve conflict?

POST-COLD WAR IDEALISM

at the end of the Cold War, the rise of human rights based international law led to a number of humanitarian interventions in order to protect people from war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

examples of humanitarian intervention include Iraq (1991), Somalia (1992), Bosnia (1995), Kosovo (1999), Sierra Leone (2000) and East Timor (2000)

in 2005, the UN published the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a global political commitment declaring that sovereignty is conditional upon the nationstate protecting its citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

2

examples of post-Cold War idealism

following the first Gulf War in 1991, UN Resolution 688 condemned Saddam Hussein’s retribution and violence against Shia and Kurdish rebels — this led to France, the UK and the USA establishing no-fly zones within Iraqi airspace to protect Saddam’s opponents from violence

in 1992, President George Bush sent US troops into Somalia to “stop the starvation”

in 1995, NATO intervened against the Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian Civil War and in 1999 NATO bombed Serbia in order to stop the ethnic cleansing that Serb forces were carrying out in Kosovo

during this conflict, Tony Blair, who had pushed especially hard for military action, stated in his Chicago speech that mass murder could not be a “purely internal matter”

other such humanitarian, rather than strategic, interventions were also made by UN peacekeepers in East Timor from 1999 and by the UK in Sierra Leone in 2000

4

in what ways has the international community failed to resolve conflict?

DECLINE OF HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTIONISM

it had seemed as though the more globally connected world would prioritise humanitarian interventionism, but this increasingly proved not to be the case

liberals had hoped that increasing interconnectedness between states would establish the UN as the ultimate arbiter of peace and war and that a newfound global respect for human rights would restrain the brutality of dictators

yet even during the euphoria of the immediate post-Cold War period, there were numerous cases where the global community failed to confront mass killings

when the Yugoslav Federation broke up in 1991 and the Balkans were plunged into civil war, both the UN and the EU were paralysed by indecision and only hesitantly intervened to ease the suffering without being seen to take sides

in Chechnya, during two brutal wars, Russian forces succeeded in quelling independence at the cost of around 160,000 lives

in Rwanda, 800,000 Tutsis were killed during the 1994 genocide while the UN dithered and failed to take appropriate action

5

in what ways has the international community failed to resolve conflict?

FAILINGS OF INTERVENTION

in 2003, the US and the UK invaded Iraq without the UN’s explicit endorsement, primarily to achieve strategic objectives in the region

this resulted in a humanitarian disaster in which approximately half a million may have died, it also contributed to the rise of militant Islam and destabilised the region — this challenges both the justification and effectiveness of interventionism

the limits of interventionism have been further illustrated by the lack of progress made in Afghanistan, despite years of ‘nationbuilding’ by Western powers, the Taliban continues to wield immense influence as NATO forces have gradually been withdrawn

while Gaddafi was successfully toppled, NATO intervention in Libya has left the country in a state of anarchy, which has allowed terrorist organisations to gain a foothold

the conflicting strategic interests and declining trust between China, Russia and the USA have discouraged action

therefore, even though the civil war in Syria has led to an unparalleled humanitarian disaster, Western powers, scarred by failings in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, have been wary of fully committing themselves to the overthrow of the Assad government

Russia sensed the Western lack of resolve and militarily intervened to support President Assad against the rebels, which suggests that the great powers may once again be putting realist self interest before liberal idealism

6

in what ways has the international community failed to resolve conflict?

REALISM DETERMINING FOREIGN POLICY

when the Cold War ended in 1991, true global cooperation seemed possible and states increasingly embraced the sorts of common values that led George Bush to speak of a “new world order” based on a global community increasingly working together

but such liberal optimism now seems misplaced as there has been a clear rise in realism determining foreign policy

in Trump’s 2017 inaugural speech, he promised that the USA would “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone” and that his only principle will be “America First” — the way he has endorsed self interest as the guiding principle for the state suggests that the future of liberal interventionism is seriously in doubt

the contrast between Tony Blair’s Chicago speech (1999) and Theresa May’s Philadelphia speech (2017) illustrate how attitudes towards interventionism are changing

Blair said that “if we can establish and spread the values of liberty, the rule of law, human rights... then that is in our national interests... the spread of our values makes us safer”

however, Theresa May stated that “the days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over”

the declining commitment to humanitarianism from both the UK or USA means that the liberal idea of a global community intervening to resolve conflict is weakening

it seems likely, therefore, that barbaric states will have less to fear than before from outside interference and the global community will have failed to resolve conflict

7

in what ways has the international community failed to resolve conflict?

CASE STUDY: SYRIA

the Syrian Civil War,?which began in 2011, has proved to be the biggest humanitarian disaster of the 21st century

out of a pre-war population of 22 million, it is estimated that almost 5 million refugees have fled the country and over 6 million are displaced internally

the UN also estimated that by 2016, 220,000 people had been killed

given the enormous scale of the human tragedy, it is highly significant that the international community has failed to work together to resolve this crisis

this is a clear example of the international community failing to resolve conflict