Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
Interviewed by Jennifer Goldman — 2003
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Q: Okay. So I have a general sense of the field that you're in and the work that you're involved in. But before we really officially begin the interview, it would be great to gain a better understanding of your background. And I wanted to leave it open for you to tell me what you think might be particularly helpful for me to know about your background before we start jumping into the specifics of your views on intractable conflict.
A: Uhm...my background...I have a checkered background. My... I can give you my resume, so I don't have to summarize that, but I began as a lawyer. Didn't like law practice., possibly in part because it didn't seem to be resolving anything. But, on the contrary, you know, making conflicts worse, in many cases. And so from law I got into writing about conflict...starting with a book on race riots and violence in America, then, more recently, getting into the subject, particularly of religiously based conflicts. But in the meanwhile, I mean, writing books on terrorism and other forms of intractable conflict. And I taught law and then I taught political science, and then I came to George Mason University to work at the Conflict Analysis and Resolution Institute at GMU in 1987. And so my main...the main thrust of my career has been to write about intractable conflict with an emphasis on trying to...looking at causes. And...I don't know...maybe that's enough said. I was really introduced to this field by John Burton, whose views I found and still find very important and interesting on this subject. I've done a good deal of writing over the past two years systemic systemic conflict. And one thing I think I should mention because it's relevant probably to your project and to the questions you may as is that I enjoyed very much the readings that you sent...liked the Coleman reading very much and...well, both of them, the Burgess' reading, too. But I like the coleman article particularly. And I've written a kind of version of that myself with a slightly different emphasis. The emphasis is more on destructive conflict, I call it, rather than using the intractable concept. But my institute has produced a kind of text book or introduction to conflict studies that I don't know if you know anything about, but it's been just... You may not because it's just been published by... What's the name of that press? Millennium, which is English, you know published simultaneously in London and New York. And I have two chapters in that book. the One is called the Sources of Conflict...The Sources of Destructive Conflict, and the other is on Law, Custom and Legitimacy, which deals with some of the same issues that you're, you know, that the subject...readings that you sent me deal with. So you might wanna actually look at those as a kind of supplement to...and we can get you that book or I can even e-mail my stuff to you.
Q: That would be wonderful.
A: And the other thing I've been doing...I've been contrasting to be interested in terrorism and writing the psycho-political causes of terrorism. And so I think that's probably enough about me.
Q: Great. That's really very helpful...to get a general sense of where you're coming from...
Q: ...and we'll go into more specific questions about some of the things that you've said.
A: Okay. Good.
Q: Yeah. Thank you. You talked a little about the similarities and differences between what you read in the Coleman article and what you've written recently.
Q: Can you tell me more about that...about what some of the contrasts...well, particularly we're interested in the contrasts and the differences. And it may be helpful to talk about the similarities as well. I don't know.
A: Sure. Okay. Well...the Coleman article, which I liked very much, is...what should I call it...a kind of factor analysis. What are the factors that make a conflict intractable? And I think what it does...what it sets out to do , it does very well. And I think the article is very useful. My approach, I guess, is more... The Coleman article, while very useful, like a lot of the material in our field, doesn't do very much along the lines of weighting various factors or attempting to produce theories that. Of course, I mean, you can't do everything. This is no criticism of the Coleman. You can't do everything in one article, but there... If you're interested, for example, in conflict prevention, and you were to ask, "Well, what can I use here to predict when conflicts were gonna get intractable and, you know, what to do then?" There's not a great deal that you can do with it if you do a factor analysis, which doesn't weight different factors. And there's not much... There's some attempt in the Coleman article to talk about, kind of, stages of conflict and developmental patterns. But, again, that's not the primary focus of the piece. I guess what I am trying to do, while in some ways more limited than what peter...isn't it...Peter Coleman...than what he does is to focus more strongly on the factors that I think are most likely to produce conflict...to maybe give you a, kind of, handle on what an insipient conflict situation is or a latent conflict situation and how you could recognize that maybe head it off. So... Okay. There's also ... and so I guess another way to say that is just I'm... There are certain aspects of intractable conflict that interest me a lot more than others.
Q: Can you tell me more about which interests you and if you can provide an example to, kind of, walk me through, you know, what you're thinking about conceptually, that might help as well.
A: Yeah, sure. Well, let me just mention... I'll mention a couple of things in my writing and my thinking about that are slightly different in terms of emphasis perhaps. That's all. One is that I'm very interested in historical context. I think there's a problem... For me, there's a problem with, kind of, modern social science techniques--political science or sociology, whatever...social psychology techniques that look at current situations without looking very much at the social origins or the social situations that produces conflict. Again, don't take this as a criticism of Coleman because he does some of this, too. And so in that...in one of the chapters in this book...the one on Sources and Conflict, I talk about three social/historical sources of conflict--all relating to social change, rapid social change, social transformation, which I think really produces a context for a lot of conflict. And so... You know, I should really... I should actually look at this article of mine so I can remember it better...so that ...I say, for example... Coleman talks about identity conflict, for example, as being one of the crucial types of intractable conflict, and I agree entirely with that. But then the question is what is the situation or what are the causes of identity conflict? Why now? Why do you have so many identity conflicts, for example, after World War II...when there didn't seem to be a hell of a lot before then. So this article of mine, which is really as general as his is. I mean, it's very broad, also, suggests three principles . Let's see if I can find them: Socio-economic transformation generates class conflict. Coleman talks about conflicts between groups that are ranked and groups that are, sort of, in an oppressor/oppressed relationship. I think it's more... I think it's helpful to talk in a more general and some ways a more traditional way, also, about the sources of class conflict in a modern society as being a major factor in lots of other conflicts that are...may also be identity based, etc. So anyway... So I talk about class struggles persisting even in advance industrial economies, although they're not supposed to and class struggles being played out, in particular now, in connection with globalization. So... Okay. That's number one. And that's an area in which I think our field is a bit weak. Because we're very, very interested in identity conflict and for some of us it's a way to not talk about class. You know what I mean? And yet if you can't talk about... If you don't talk about the context of a globalizing capitalist system, you know on a world level, without reducing things. I'm not talking about reduction, you know. But I'm talking about is accounting for that, I don't think you're gonna count for intractable conflicts without talking about the effects of...about the class conflict effect of capitalist development.
Q: Can you give me an example of what you mean--what type of class conflict comes out of globalizing, capitalist system?
A: Well, I suppose the simplest... The simplest example, I suppose, is...oh, Iran. Okay. I mean...or Iraq. We can talk about the Iranian Revolution in terms that are purely identity and have to do with religion and have to do with, you know, national identity. Or we can talk about Iraq in terms...in similar terms. And if one doesn't have any sort of theory of... Let me use the 'I' word...imperialism....it becomes...it's incomprehensible. I mean, why did the United States support the Shah of Iran and the Iranian Secret Police and so forth and so on. I spent some time over there, so I'm a little closer to that situation. Why did the United States commit itself to the support of the vicious and venal dictatorship in Iran if had nothing to do with the interests that...interests that are in a broader sense economic that have to do with the interests of the U.S. and other Western economic elite and the interests of political elite, the geo-political interests of...tetra...you know, to talk about Iran without talking about that is like Hamlet without the prince an d... So, in a sense, everybody understands that that was a factor and so they understand it and then they forget it. Maybe they forget it because they think basically there's nothing they can do about it. We...the U.S...the West is economically ...has been economically (unknown word) for several centuries. The United States is now ahead economically and militarily (unknown word). There's a tendency among people in our business, as well as in every other business, as well as in every other business, every other academic discipline and business to say well, that's a fact. You can't really change it, so you just live with it. And the second stage is not only do you live with it, you don't think very much about it. But, you know, it does... To my mind there are identity group conflicts that can be talked about that don't have much to do with the kind of global drive for economic supremacy by large cooperation's and states aligned with and representing large cooperation's. But, so much of the conflict in the world that is, you know, that's most contentious and most intractable is intractable because, it seems to me, because it has structural sources. And that's one of them. That's not the only structural source, but that's one of the structural sources that has been...certain tendency in our field to , kind of, back away from that sort of analysis. I'm not sure exactly why. Maybe because it seems old hat. I don't know. But I like to think that that's changing now and that horrific events like the Iraq situation now are forcing us to deal with it more. It raises, of course, political questions that I don't know if we want to get into now, but just to give you a...I don't know...a taste of it. There's a question for our field now as to whether in an era of U.S. attempts to become or maintain economic or political ?agemany? on a global scale, there's a question as to whether the conflict resolution field is going to become the, basically, an adjunct to that effort. That in the new Roman Empire we are the kind of patral managae. We're the soft imperialists. You know, we're the ones who resolve conflicts among the satellite states and go over and help...help resolve conflicts the various groups in Iraq so that the Americans can stabilize their control. Or whether we're going to be looking at global conflict as...coming form systemic sources which implicate the United States. So the United States is not a conflict resolver. It may at times function as a conflict resolver; mostly it's a conflict cause. And, you know... That's a difficult thing to think about, and it's very difficult to figure out what to do about it once you've thought about it...you know, other than strike a pose. So I think I understand what some of the difficulties are... the obstacles to thinking in these terms. But it seems to me if you don't think about the global force... And this is, again, not to say that Coleman is not thinking about this stuff. This is not aimed at him at all. But if you don't think about the social context, the global context of conflict, it doesn't seem to me you're getting...you're not getting to the point where you can identify causes and do anything really about it, other than at best manage it in the interest of the rulers. Okay. So.
Q: That's very helpful. Let me just try to repeat back...even in just a couple of words what we were talking about to make sure that I'm actually getting what it is that you're talking about before we move on to the next principle.
Q: So, you know, we're talking about structural sources of...about intractable conflict and that imperialism and, kind of, global capitalism that's spreading can be a source of class conflict, of racial conflict, ethnic conflict, international conflict in a way that it wasn't prior to World War II.
A: Yeah, it wasn't as much. That's right. Or it was, but, you know, it connected... It was connected with other empires, which from the U.S. point of view... Remembering that conflict resolution as a profession is still largely an Anglo-American profession. The last two great empires. That we were able to point the finger at lots of other people and to say, you know, you shouldn't be trying to impose your will on... There are better ways to resolve conflicts than through force, etc, etc. We're not... This is part... I don't know. I don't want to get into this too deeply, but this is part of the American exceptionalist thesis...that we were not going to imitate these other old empires. We were gonna do... Our relationship to the world was going to be something different, and it was going to be less coercive. It was going to be more idealistic. And so, you know, we would force the French out of Southeast Asia, and force the Dutch out of Indonesia, and force the French out of Algeria, and force the British out of Africa, or at least...it's not force, you know, cheer them as they left. And it's only recently...really only since Vietnam, which was the first great shock, when we replaced the French, tried to replace the French, tried to replace the French in Vietnam... It's only at that point that this whole problem gets raised. And it's a problem with the relation ?__________?...empire to conflict. Okay. It's what I want to write about next. That's why it's, kind of, at the top of my mind.
Q: And what did you just call it?
A: The problem of the relationship of empire to conflict. Empire generates intractable... Empire is a long-range, is a long-term entity. Empires try to maintain themselves over a long period of time, and they generate conflicts that last for a long period of time.
Q: What do you think it is about empires?
A: Well, there's a great range of... What makes it really complicated, you know, what makes it really complicated is that a lot of the time... Since Rome, at least, part of the ideology of empire has been that the empire is a conflict resolver...that the empire is the universalizing force which, you know, resolves conflicts among its clients. Camp David was really classical imperial play, although it wasn't recognized as that at the time...still in many cases isn't. It was the empire...the imperial power arranging, accommodating, arranging things between two client states. Rome was very good at this. And the British weren't bad at it, either. We're actually not so good at it. But the underlying question is whether should we get better at It or is there some other model of world order that's more consistent with conflict resolution? Is a question that I think we're starting, some of us are starting to address now, but it's still, kind of, not in the fore-front of... Well, it's in the forefront of some people's consciousness and not others.
Q: If you were to think about what that ideal situation would look like...if it were not an empire-driven, conflict-resolving state, but a different kind of state, what does that look like to you?
A: Well, you know, I'm not really sure what it looks like. It's gonna look like something new, which is always hard to envisage, just as what was hard to envisage an American constitutional government or a post ?__________?...regime, French, you know...French system. It's not so easy without seeming like a kook...or a utopian to envisage what a better system looks like, but what Richard Falk has done a pretty job in outlining what it might look like in the World Order Project in Princeton. Johan ?Gaupin? is doing a pretty good job in the Trans-National... What does he call it? I'm even a member of it and I'm blocking the name of it. Gaupin's outfit--Transcend. It's called.
Q: Okay. And where is that?
A: It's talking about an international system, which is not based on a ?hegemonic? world government, but which relies on international organization...independent international organizations. His main job is conflict resolution, not wielding power. Gaupin and I both are very interested in regional organizations.
A: Yeah. In regional organizations, based on the model of the...for example, the model of the European organization for...the OSCE...Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe...which is a voluntary organization set up by the European states to do things together and to resolve conflicts. That's been tremendously effective in some ways, and Gaupin is asking,(and I think he's exactly right) why shouldn't the Middle East have the equivalent of an OSCE that would help the Iraqis now, for example, deal with questions like, do they want their oil nationalized or privatized, do they wanna have an Islamic state or non-Islamic state or some kind of combination of Islamics? Should that state be a federal state or a unitary or how should the communities in Iraq, the warring communities in Iraq be able to deal with each so that they're not warring all the time? I mean, these are questions which the Americans are now presuming to answer for everybody. And saying that there's some U.N. committee that should answer them isn't much better. The parties themselves need to answer those questions. And the parties most directly affected are the Iraqis themselves and their neighbors. So Gaupin has been screaming now for two or three years that this kind of regional conflict resolution, using independent experts like us, who would be truly independent. That is to say wouldn't be representing our government or anybody else, we could be facilitators. So we can't make the decisions for the folks; we can be facilitators. And that this should be done, not only in the Middle East; it should be done in the Balkans, and it should be done in South Asia...all the places where the Transcend organization people have been active and some of us have visited and so on. So that I'm not talking now so much about a system, which I think...I mean, I can fantasize about a better system. But I'm talking now more about process and I'm talking about a negative. And the negative is the American empire doesn't decide these issues. Also, the American empire allied with the old European empire don't decide these issues. The people in the areas most directly affected with whatever facilitation they need and want decide these issues. The reason it's utopian is that it leads to aggrandizing themselves at the expense of folks in the Middle East or the Balkans, or South Asia, or Africa haven't yet realized that they can't get what they want by doing what they're doing. You know the Americans still have the fantasy that they can succeed in Iraq where the British couldn't. the Turks couldn't...basically, nobody could. I don't think it's going to take too long before they realize that it's a losing proposition and they can't do it that way. But... Okay. But I think it should be the job of our field to help to help develop those alternatives.
Q: In what you're saying and what I'm...one thing I'm hearing...I'm thinking about what framework does that, kind of, utopian ideal come out of and one, the simple one that I'm thinking about is, you know, basic mediation or transformative mediation framework where, you know, the powers and the parties ?__________?... But I'm wondering if there are other frameworks or ideas, perspectives that have informed those eutopian ideas for you.
A: Yes. One is...one that informs it for me is basic human needs theory. And the idea that people's basic human needs need to be satisfied and they will continue to act up, and they'll continue to resort to power-based solutions as a, kind of, false satisfier when the basic needs aren't satisfied, basically, not getting the basic needs, not getting your basic needs satisfied gets you crazy, as Kurt Vonegut used to say. So that's part of it. Another part of it is, for me, as a Marxist orientation, called it neo-Marxist or neo-neo or whatever, but an orientation that is critical of the current patterns in economic development run by neo-liberal capitalist forces, and the notion that the market is the answer to all our problems etc, etc. So...which implicates a search for economical...for alternative economic systems, not necessarily the system that Marx liked, which really hasn't been implemented anywhere anyway. I want to see...in order to deal with intractable conflicts, I want to see the most creative, innovative economic minds of our time drawn into our profession. We...basically, economist free at the moment, and that's a bad mistake, it seems to me. Partly, it's because economists disgrace themselves one way or the other...either they've turned out to be, kind of capitalist slack or Marxist...kind of knee-jerk Marxists. Now the economics profession is starting to produce some interesting ideas, and we need to...I think we need to link up with that.
Q: Are there any economists that come to mind that you would say, you know, hey, that's a person we should talk to.
A: Sure. Mike ?name?. I've just been talking about him just with somebody else today. Michelle ?name? Do you know him?
A: University of Toronto.
Q: Can you...
A: He's a fascinating guy. He's kind of independent radical economist who sees very clearly. The only person I know... When the big split and the U.S. developed over Iraq, ?name? put an article out. I got it on the Web. Saying, Well, of course, there's a... These are the two great economic power centers of the world and tracing the kind of growth of independence and hostility between the business elite in Europe, Russia and China whom he thinks are becoming a block, an economic block, and the United States and England, which he thinks are becoming another block. Now Mike is much too smart to say it all boils down to that, but he supplies a whole dimension to this struggle, which really gives you a whole different way of looking at European/U.S. conflicts...of seeing not just as kind of matter of ideological differences of the moment but something more structural...to get back to the structural thing again. So... Okay. This was class theme that we started out with?
A: And I think what's important to point out... Why don't we point out one other thing about that is that part of the, you know, part of what brought this into discredit...the class analysis into discredit in the academy was that...first of all reductionist tendencies on the part of the leftists to say everything just boils down to dollars and cents, which was actually never even good Marxism. But anyway, they did it and also a kind of post-modernism which , to some extent, is born of despair at being able to change systems...post-modernist position which kind of said there is no system anyway. Or, if there is, you're creating it. There's always... there's certainly some truth in that. I mean, I've been influenced by the post-modernist thinking, too. But I think especially it's in the extremes to which it's been taken...that the attempt to try to disappeared the system makes it impossible to analyze intractable conflicts.
Q: Speaking of systems, I have a question about comparing...I mean, you were talking about the idea of the empire and imperialism as being such a fundamentally structural cause of intractable conflict than there's been. Other research, you know, that has been done talking about sexism and racism as also similar kinds of structural things that exist that without the toppling of those things it would be very hard to resolve.
Q: lots of intractable conflicts. Is there a difference in your mind between imperialism as a structural component of intractable conflict versus something like racism or sexism.
A: No, I mean, I think there is a system. It's really big and messy and self-contradictory, and it's not a neat system. But there is a system and the same system that produces imperialism produces racism and sexism. Engles actually got that right. And it's all...it all happens in ways that are much more complicated than the ?__________?...used to think. And I think probably you can have, you know, there are independent sources of oppression. Not everything doesn't amount...that everything doesn't boil down to oppression by capital. But, historically speaking, these 'isms' really come into existence in relationship to each other. So my... In this article that we started out talking about...this chapter of mine. The first principle was that economic transformation generates class conflict. The second principle was that political transformation generates identity group conflict. And again, I feel a need that I don't always have satisfied from conflict resolution people...although sometimes it is...to try to get to what's the nature of this transformation, which is producing identity group conflict. We are starting to get more than that...more and more of that. For example, just this year a couple of very good analyses have now coming out about where this new religious identity group conflict is coming from.
Q: Can you say more about those or...I don't want to ?__________?...on the track that you're on.
A: Well, let me...let me mention the third. I mean, I will and then we can go back and talk about all of this.
Q: That sounds great.
A: The third principle, politician transformation generates identity group conflict and cultural transformation generates world view conflicts. World view conflicts. There was something in the Coleman piece, but not yet... I mean, in talking about what makes intractable conflicts intractable, coleman and also the Burgesses talk about... One of the first examples they use is, you know, abortion and ?__________?...which it certainly is intractable. But... Okay. But then there's not a good deal...a lot of talk after that about what kinds of cultural...what produces cultural wars. And since we're talking about... You know, we're talking about the same people in a globally...more and more inter-dependent global society exhibiting conflict behaviors that in some ways resemble each other more and more, so that religious conflict, for example, isn't just a matter of somebody exotic...people someplace else, you know, being religious fanatics, but it's clearly a global phenomenon that's taking place in the West in different forms, but it's taking place in the West as well. It makes you wanna ask what's going on here? I mean, why is there is this kind of flowering of identity group conflicts and especially now lately identity linked with world view?
Q: Could you say more about what you mean when you say the word worldview. How do you think about that? How do you define that?
A: Well... What's a good example? If you're talking about Northern Ireland. The Catholics and Protestants... You could also, by the way, do the same thing with Bosnia. The Catholics and Protestants have some differences in their beliefs...in beliefs and values. But almost all of those differences in beliefs...it has practically nothing to do with religion per se. Almost all of those differences in beliefs and values...and I'm not even sure I'm right to include values...have to do with historical interpretation...who is the oppressor, who is the victim and who's superior and who is inferior, and who deserves to be superior or inferior...those sorts of belief issues. So you could say, in a way, there are always... Any time you have a conflict, you have a worldview conflict, to some extent because you have conflicting belief systems. But those differences are fairly...are quite limited and in some ways fairly superficial. You know, who was here first or who struck first? Who's responsible for this mess...that sort of thing which you get in every conflict. It's really a different kettle of fish when you have, say, it's a different kettle of fish when you have Islamic people...when you have people say in Iraq now, who say about the Americans... The American soldiers come into our houses so that they can see the women. They say that all the time. Well, this is more than a difference of opinion about history or differences...kind of historical perspective. This comes out of different value ordering that has to do with privacy and status of women and all sorts of things. It's all (tape ends here)
...which also is really, shall I say, it's really... I'm not sure it's where quantity starts and qualitative differences between. But it feels qualitatively different to me...what's going on even in a lot of other intractable conflicts, they don't necessarily involve either this kind of cultural difference between the two parties or this kind of exacerbated... This is not just oppression. You know, oppression can be external. It's like, I have the power and you don't. You have to take my orders, and I will...nobody likes that. But if I'm also kind of constantly humiliating you, that involves another factor. And, of course, if you're tempted to... this is another issue entirely, I suppose, but I've written about it. If it's the kind of oppression that you're tempted to become part of even, you're tempted to abandon your own ways and join up with the oppressor because it's so much...their culture is so much fun. Their culture is so much fun and gives you a chance to do all these forbidden things, that produces a kind of... That can produce a kind of self-loathing, a feeling of uncleanness that might cause you to reaffirm your religious commitment as a way of purifying yourself....unpolluting yourself. I mean, those kinds of factors are not present in every situation of oppression. And some of those factors relate to what I'm calling worldview.
Q: The assumptions that people are making based on their cultural and religious historical group, kind of collective backgrounds?
A: Yeah, and based on their own...kind of cultural development over a long period of time. Oscar ?Noodler? who's an Argentine... I don't know if you know his work. He's written about worldviews. He's an Argentine philosopher. He says the worldview is...involves a...it's an epistemology and an ?__________?...and ethic and a this and that and the other. It includes a kind of a different way of relating to reality or defining reality and relating to it. And you can't get people to compromise their worldviews. It's another reason why intractable conflicts, you know, they... You can maybe find a third language in which people sharing different worldviews can communicate and, I mean, that, in fact, is what Mark ?Gaupin? is trying to do. Do you know Gaupin's work?
Q: Yeah, a little bit.
A: Well, Gaupin says you got these people operating from conflicting religious traditions, but at least the one thing that they've got in common is that they all...Muslims and Jews, and Christians, in particularly Abrahamic religions in particular have all got certain common vocabulary, common...certain methods....a common hermeneutic that will enable them to talk to one another, even if they don't agree on anything. They can at least talk to each other, and that's a start. So he's done some amazing... Mark's done some amazing things with Orthodox religious people from these people with different faiths in the Middle East.
Q: So he would say use the commonalities to create a third language that's not one or the other, but is some kind of mixture.
A: Mark... You know, he's enormously imaginative. And he says as soon as you spot the commonalities, you figure out how to practice them. You know, you don't just dialog. You figure... I mean, here you have three religions, which have...in which the funeral celebration in each of the religions and what a funeral is supposed to accomplish ...have something to do with each other. So there's a basis for understanding there. So why not have Muslims...Mullahs attend the funeral of Jewish people killed in suicide bombings, and why not have Orthodox Rabbis attend the funerals of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army? Because both traditions would say that, you know, the job...those...that behavior would be supported by both traditions. And by God, he's done that. He's gotten these people to attend each other's funerals. How much good that's gonna do in the long-run and so forth, he doesn't know and I don't know, but it looks like...
Q: ...a piece of the puzzle.
A: ...a start.
A: So. So, let me say one more thing.
A: We were just talking about...
A: Yeah, worldview conflict. I keep...I keep asking and I want us to... and I hope that as a profession we're gonna continue to do this and to probe harder on this, asking... The next question is so why are these conflicts...why are there more of these conflicts and why are they more intense now than at other times? Why now and not so much before or after...why in certain places and not so much in other places? And why can we point to some places and some societies in the world where not much of this conflict is taking place. Whereas, in other places it's horrendous? That kind of inquiry, it seems to me, kind of leads you towards what is beginning to seem to me more and more of a kind of general context for intractable conflict, which is that globalization is...not...an important part of globalization is economic globalization, which we talked about. But globalization... it's also technological. It's taking place... Maybe we should not even use that word; we should find a different word. But if there's a fundamental cause of intractable...of long-term conflict is the coming together...the being brought together of disparate groups...groups that are disparate in every way, culturally, power and so forth...bringing together of formerly isolated groups..
A: Formerly isolated groups...that when you...you know...when you...that inter-dependence...whatever you want to call it...more compact...what John Burton and his World Society model calls an increase in the sum total of trans-national transactions... When these contacts multiply the way they are multiplying at a radically increased pace now, you...that creates...that's a kind of change which has got to create long-term conflicts...very difficult to resolve. And.. But if you sort of lose sight of those processes... And, as I say, I think they're not just economic, they also have to do with a...people getting each other's diseases, people marrying each other's sons and daughters and people impinging on each other more and more. It inflames identity problems; it makes worldview problems which weren't even visible, all of a sudden visible; it increases resource...competition for resources, etc, etc. It also produces the basis for a possible, you know, community of man, humanity. But... So that the same time you get this kind of, you know, sort of glowing promise of global solidarity, of global familiarity and so forth. You know, right next door is this greatly inflamed conflicts caused by the fact that people, really over a long course of human history... We seem to have started out, according to a lot of the anthropologists, we seem to have started out as a relatively small population on earth...homosapians, scattered all over the place. And everybody...very diverse and everybody doing whatever they wanted to do in terms of their own communities and not having much contact with other communities. And then around the time that written history beginning that changes. Now it's just... It's hurtling ahead towards what I call the real globalism, of which AIDS and all of that is the most dramatic and visible and scary symptom.
Q: That's really interesting.
A: I mean, now how we develop a consciousness of ourselves as humans and not just local identities and how we develop the institutions to cope with these problems...that it seems to me is essential to come...now to resolving intractable conflict. It's this kind of out of control globalisim that really is at the root of it to me.
Q: Sounds like, also, given what you were talking about before, that you see this globalization and globalism as one of the major root causes of the intractable conflict. Then, the United States is wanting to go and resolve the conflicts; it's almost this irony--gloablism, creating it...a kind of globalism trying to resolve it and not being able to and, I don't know...if you can elaborate on it better than I can.
A: Well, they don't... Maybe you don't need to be neutral, as they sometimes say...to resolve conflicts. But you need to have some detachment. I mean, you need to be able to see the conflict. And, you know, to be impartial in that sense. You know, the U.S. isn't impartial in any sense. So, you know, I don't see them as being a great agent of conflict resolution, but where that's gonna come from. I mean, I'm in conversations and other people are with people at various organizations, multi-national organizations and multi-national organizations trying to get them to ?__________?...to those this. Tell them, your destiny isn't necessarily to wield power; it's to solve problems that create conflict. Anyway... You know what I'm talking about.
Q: It's been extremely helpful. Before we finish up, what I would love to do is...you had mentioned a couple of different names of people and books and things like that. And I don't know what the easiest way for me to kind of collect out...collect the names and the references would be. It could be... I could tell you the ones that I'm thinking about and maybe spell out the names. Of, if you prefer, I'll send you an e-mail.
A: Why don't you do that.
A: Because then I can...I can... I'll collect myself and I'll be able to think of some more names.
Q: Great. That would be great. Yeah, we're thinking about... I'll send you an e-mail and I'll you for names of people and books, articles, any kinds of teaching materials and, you know, whatever you are able to send back to me would be great.
A: I'd be very happy to do that.
Q: Wonderful. Thank you. Is there anything in closing that you would like to say before we officially end?
A: No, I think I've probably talked too much already. I said what...
Q: Well, it was really amazing to talk with you...very, very helpful and really what you were talking about hits the nail right on the head for what kinds of things we're thinking about. So...
A: Thank you. Thank you. I've enjoyed it. I hope the project goes really well.
Q: Thank you. A couple of logistical things to close out. One is that...oh...the confidentiality thing...just wanted to check with you about whether you would be okay with us using your name in what we write up, given what you just told us?
Q: Okay. Great. And the second is that we had promised a hundred dollar honorarium for your participation.
A: Oh, you did?
A: Far out. Good.
Q: So the way, the technicality of that is that I've got a sample invoice that I can send to you and all you need to do is replace the place where it says your name and your address with your name and your address. And if you e-mail that back to me, we can then process the invoice and send you a check.
A: Okay. Great.
Q: So in the e-mail that I send to you, I'll enclose that invoice for you.
A: Good. Thank you.
Q: All right. well, thank you very much and I look forward to being in touch by e-mail.
A: Me, too. You should come down and visit our institute some time.
Q: Thank you. I would love to, and I'm sure that one day, I'm sure that that will happen.
Q: I appreciate it.
Q: Okay. Thanks so much.
A: Thanks a lot.
Q: Okay. Be well. Byes.