Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Root causes

Your point about the Israel-Palestine conflict having moved beyond its roots of resource competition into being about ethnic rivalry can be seen in many current conflicts. Current conflicts (Iran-US, the Koreas, China-Taiwan, Israel vs its neighbors, post-colonial Africa, al Qeada vs the West) all began prior to or during the Cold War as conflicts over resources. The conflicts changed over time into ethnic, cultural or ideological wars. The horrors of war and the dread about the fate that would await the vanquished side become motivations in themselves to continue the war, even as the origins of the conflicts recede into obscurity. As Susan Woodward wrote in her essay “Do the ‘Root Causes’ of Civil War Matter?” from April of this year, it is necessary to address “two other aspects that are more important than ‘root causes’ in achieving a definitive end to the war: (1) the changes wrought by the war itself (the transformation of society, economy, and interests, and the effect of violence itself regardless of initial motivation on lines of political cleavage and patterns of behavior), and thus the conditions that exist at the time of a ceasefire or peace agreement, and (2) the political arrangements that can reduce the extreme uncertainty over power.” Pg 36 Ironically, post cold war conflicts continue because of the nature of the conflicts themselves.