Editorial: Levels of analysis
A lot of editorial time and energy goes into thinking about the angle from which to look at an issue. For example, this issue’s special report is the result of deliberations about current peacekeeping operations, what used to be called ‘humanitarian intervention’ – the meaning of which has been changed so much by the US invasion of Iraq that the term should probably be avoided. In the special report, two well-known scholars in the field of conflict studies – Mary Kaldor and Stathis Kalyvas – reflect on the nature of contemporary violent conflict. The way that policy makers analyze and theorize about such complex events as wars determines to a great extent how they approach resolving them. It might be the case that recent international conflicts such like in Iraq and Afghanistan were interpreted in such a way that the wrong policy emerged. If you think of current wars as being fought state against state, your approach to conflict will be to buy the latest jet fighter for your air force. If you think terrorists threaten international stability and cause conflict, you will deploy heavily armed commandos and try in the meantime to win the hearts and minds of the local citizens.
But if ‘the enemy’ is less clearly identifiable, you may have to look for other solutions. These can be of a high-tech nature – think of hackers breaking into defence or financial systems. Mary Kaldor states in her contribution to the special report that many current conflicts are characterized by a blurring of types of ‘enemies’ typical of Clausewitzean warfare. Violent conflicts are fought by state
The special report does not focus on solutions, but rather gives two distinct visions of the causal relations of current conflicts. In contrast, Andy Sumner’s article in this issue focuses on the policy level, with regard to developing countries that are not deeply engaged in violent conflicts. In these countries we are still trying to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. That date may sound far off, but is it time to start thinking about what we should do after it passes? Sumner suggests three possible ways forward: continue with more of the same, try something a bit more radical or combine the MDGs with something new. With this article,
The debate will take place mainly on
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