When looking at historical approaches to conflict management, the trend for the use of military interventions is exceptionally apparent. It seems to be a common theme among governments worldwide that there is only one appropriate method to resolve conflicts: declaring war. Prominent events of our aggressive and savage past include the World Wars, the War on Terror, the Vietnam War, and the list continues. While some argue that conflict management and resolution are a lost cause and the world will continue living in the violent environment that our history has constructed for us, others believe that there are better methods of conflict resolution that do not involve cruelty.
Although historically the world’s popular conflict resolution approach was using brute force, research has shown that military intervention has not always proven to be the optimal solution and perhaps can even cause an increase of future violent behavior. According to “Global Issues: A Cross-Cultural Perspective,” major topics that initiate conflict among countries include competition for resources and territory.
The use of military force between countries of dissimilar wealth has resulted in further economic disparity; in other words, the rich become more powerful while the poor are slowly stripped from their land and resources. This hostile method of conflict resolution introduces tension between countries and can stem future violent behaviors.
Not only does militarism introduce tension between countries, but it also has other negative consequences that include jeopardizing a regions food sources and destroying the environment. Newer warfare technology, such as chemical and nuclear warfare, can introduce unhealthy toxins that are devastating for the ecosystem and the families that live within the area.
In my opinion, the current approach of using militarism as the sole method for resolving conflicts is outdated and ineffective. There are methods that are less violent such as peacekeeping, diplomacy, and negotiation that can build and heal international relationships. Similar to using primary health prevention methods to lower the risk and costs that result from negative health outcomes, governments across the globe should enforce programs and increase funds to uphold peace and diplomacy on a global scale in order to prevent an issue before it arises.
Unfortunately, the major focus of many countries is to strengthen their military which causes peacekeeping to be largely disregarded. For example, in 2011, less than one percent of the US military budget was allocated for peacekeeping. There are tactics to heal and strengthen relationships between regions that do not require bloodshed. One way would be to find a common goal that benefits all of the participating groups and developing a strategy that allows these groups to work together to achieve this goal. A successful example of this is with the case of the Rwandan people after the genocide of 1994 in which one ethnic group slaughtered nearly 800,000 individuals of another Rwandan ethnic group. Despite the tension between the two ethnic groups, they were able to rebuild peace by working side by side to export free-trade coffee in order to strengthen the Rwandan economy that had deteriorated after the genocide.
Another way to maintain and establish peace between countries would be to consider their cultural and symbolic values. When dealing with any conflict, it is critical to be mindful of the other group’s background when negotiating a deal. Frequently, cultural and symbolic values trump materialistic benefits for countries. According the article “Sacred Barriers to Conflict Resolution,” “symbolic concessions of no apparent material benefit may be key in helping to solve seemingly intractable conflicts”. On the contrary, it is also important to consider the counterargument that the use of military and violence is beneficial.
The article “Does Military Intervention Reduce Violence?” discusses a study conducted on the effects of military intervention on the incidence of violence in ungoverned regions of Pakistan post the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The results of the study reveal that the use of military intervention as a method of law enforcement has decreased violence and lowered the number of casualties. This suggests that military intervention can be helpful, especially in scenarios where chaos needs to be controlled. Other factors to consider is the actual efficacy of diplomacy and negotiation over militarism. Would developed countries, such as the US, have advanced to this level without the use of violence as a conflict management strategy?
Overall, there is a dire need for innovative strategies of conflict resolution that do not involve killing people and destroying the environments that families live in. Instead, we should develop ideas where we can compromise and find a way to work together by both increasing funding towards peace keeping and learning to respect each other’s values and cultural perspectives. A world where violence is not the immediate solution to conflicts is certainly possible and is not a lost cause, however, it requires effort from countries globally to make a difference. By implementing this new attitude and approach to conflict resolution, future generations will grow up in an environment that significantly lacks the violence and cruelty that is present in the world today.