2 June 2020   Leave a comment

Simon Tisdall writes for The Guardian and I think highly of his insights. His most recent article examines conflicts that have gone for an extended period of time and asks the question why has it been so difficult to end them? He examines the conflicts in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. His analysis is based on data found in the Armed Conflict Survey 2020 (ACS), published by The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). That survey found that “in 21 of 33 of active armed conflicts across the globe, the number of non-state armed groups involved exceeds the number of state groups. More armed groups are operating with a decentralised chain of command and adapting to new challenges by experimenting with new technologies and exploiting business opportunities, obstructing any hopes of reconciliation and resolve.”

Tisdall finds that the great powers fuel the conflicts but are reluctant to insert themselves directly into the violence. That hands-off tactic makes it difficult for the smaller groups, funded by the great powers, to make concessions which are usually necessary to bring about an end to conflict. Tisdall also believes that the international and multilateral institutions have lost power and legitimacy in the wake of the US withdrawal from many organizations:

“A related factor is the collapse of the western-led consensus favouring multilateral, collaborative approaches to international problems. This is matched by the parallel rise of authoritarian and populist regimes that prioritise narrow national interest over perceptions of the common good.

“This trend, a regression to the pre-1914 era of competing European nation-states, undermines the authority of the UN and cooperative regional platforms such as the EU and African Union. Unsupported, UN peace envoys from Syria to Myanmar and peacekeeping operations across Africa struggle to make headway.

“Ineffective international law enforcement, symbolised by the inability of the International Criminal Court to deliver justice to war zones such as Iraq and Ukraine, helps freeze or perpetuate conflicts rather than justly resolve them. Demographic and physical causes also contribute to chronic instability.”

The reversion to a balance of power system likely means that the conflicts will rarely challenge the fundamentals of the international system but will be occasions for the great powers to test each other’s mettle.

The protests in the US are becoming propaganda points for states that the US has criticized for human rights abuses. Iran and China are accusing the US of hypocrisy as the protests target issues of police brutality and discrimination against African-Americans. Iran took the opportunity to take a US press release criticizing Iran for human rights abuses and red-penciled in some comments identifying the problems in the US.

Similarly, China, which has been the target of unrelenting US criticism (except from the President of the US) for its handling of the protests in Hong Kong, accused the US of hypocrisy:

“The riots in the US have lasted just a week, efforts for reaching a peaceful solution have barely been made, yet, Trump and Cotton have blatantly put their chips – sending troops to quell protests – on the table. This could be argued as the most extreme response to disorder among governments across the world. 

“Then why did Washington arrogantly and unreasonably accuse other countries of quelling riots? Why did politicians in Washington overbearingly portray the US as the beacon of democracy and human rights? Have they really not anticipated that the US could one day confront the situation as it does today and that their previous big talk could become a slap on their face? 

“People see the US falling into disgrace. As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the world, the US ranks No.1 in terms of confirmed cases and deaths. As anti-racist protests surge, the government and Congress should have taken quick action to comfort their people, but have instead exacerbated confrontation and led to the spread of the chaos. What is more irritating is that US political elites have played hypocrisy and barbarism. The hooligan nature of Washington makes it a complete nuisance.”

There have been sympathy protests in many countries in the world, signalling the widespread condemnation of the death of George Floyd and other African-Americans. There does not seem to be any strategy being used by the current US administration to respond to these global criticisms.

Posted June 2, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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