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In this essay the author attacks the idea that modern conflicts are more driven by economic motivations than those in the past. Romantic ideals of gentlemanly European conflicts have masked the harsh realities of war. Even in the most egregious cases of greed and ‘warlording’, the political motivations can never be fully amputated from the criminal behaviour.
If modern conflict is to be understood the language of ‘new wars’ must be avoided. In the case of the Lomé Peace Agreement, the concept of economic determinism was taken to the extreme and led to the subsequent collapse of the peace. Future peacemakers must keep this simple message in mind: money is not the only form of power.
By Jack Hamilton, 4th May, 2012
In 2007 the Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers described the links between economics and politics in conflict regions as ‘something out of Dickens: you talk to international relations experts and it’s the worst of times. Then you talk to potential investors and it’s one of the best of all times’ . This idea that modern warfare has evolved into a new era in which economic motivations have overtaken political ambitions has become popularised in the post-Cold War era. The notion has led Carl von Clausewitz’s aphorism to be rephrased to claim that ‘war has increasingly become the continuation of economics by other means’ . This substitution of ‘politics’ in favour of ‘economics’ poses the question: have economic incentives created a situation in which there is now more to war than winning?
, International Politics
, Northern Ireland
, United States
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In this article the author assesses the view that democracies can never be successful in fighting a counterinsurgency. Taking the case studies of Afghanistan and Northern Ireland it is clear that the power of the propaganda war inhibits the capacities of democracies to act freely and that every military leader must understand that their actions will be perceived as an act of political warfare.
By Jack Hamilton, 16 Nov, 2011
General Sir Gerald Templer claimed of counterinsurgency that “the shooting side of this business is only twenty five percent of the trouble”[i]. Due to the nature of democracies and modern warfare, counterinsurgency may well now be one hundred percent political.
The political vulnerability of accountable democratic leaders, omniscient media presence and the potential propaganda exploitation of all combat actions mean that military officials at every level now need to understand that their every action can be construed as an act of political warfare in which political outcomes are more important than battlefield success. This issue creates huge problems for democracies when engaging in counterinsurgencies but can also open up opportunities.
This essay will posit that the inherent challenges that democracies face when engaging in counterinsurgencies can be turned into opportunities by using the democratic nature of the state, the local population and the open media to their advantage. However, these practices have their limits and the overemphasis on any one of these factors has the potential to seriously undermine the counterinsurgency effort.
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In this essay, the author analyses the last conflict in Western Europe as the Basque clandestine group ETA declared on October 20 a permanent cessation of all armed action.
By David J. Franco, 5 Nov, 2011
On October 20th the Basque group ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna – Basque Country and Freedom) declared the complete cessation of all armed action. This essay analyses the process leading up to such declaration, the questionable participation of international groups and stakeholders in the so called peace process, and the road ahead. The first section provides an overview of the historical background of the conflict. The second section continues with an account of the latest developments since ETA unilaterally broke negotiations in 2007. The closing section is a critical analysis of the conflict as it stands today.