July 19, 2005

Three Options 1 

The most effective way to end a conflict is with the decisive victory of one side. The other side(s) will be utterly defeated, to the point of losing not only the capabilities to fight, but also the very intentions, the will to fight and will agree to all conditions posed by the other side. Glaring examples of this are Germany and Japan after WW2.

In the extreme case, one side can be totally wiped out - this is extremely cruel, but after destroying Carthage and killing all of its citizens, Rome had no more problems with Carthage.

But sometimes, one party cannot achieve decisive victory. For a variety of reasons: lack of military might, industrial power and political will - or any combination of these. In recent years, interference of international organizations become an issue too - but that has to do with political will at large.

So if decisive victory is impossible, only two options remain: a negotiated agreement, or conflict management. If both (or all) parts are rational, they will realize that they are wasting lives and resources for no gain, and thus will agree to negotiate a solution. But if only one of the parties is not interested in making peace - or is posing conditions that the other side cannot accept - the conflict will go on indefinitely, probably amid small tactical victories and defeats and a trickle of casualties - without any strategical or geo-polical change.

This in the case of a conflict between nation-states; if non-state actors are involved things can get even more complicated. In particular, ideologically-motivated organizations will not give up easily, and even if a some groups decide to reach an agreement with the enemy, more radical factions may decide to continue with the fight. Look at the IRA and ETA, for example - and even the Red Brigades.

There are different ways to manage a conflict, but usually it becomes a position struggle: you have to estabilish defensive lines (fences, walls, trenches, outposts, patrol roads, sensors, anti-aircraft and anti-missile batteries etc), man them and keep the enemy at bay. On the other hand, the enemy will use harassing attacks on the defensive lines, maybe missile or artillery fire across the border, and sometimes will try and infiltrate agents to commit bombings and sabotage - against both military and civilian targets (plus propaganda etc).

In case of domestic enemies - which most often use the terrorist doctrine - conflict management means occasional attacks, and arrest and conviction of terrorists. In Italy, while the bulk of the Red Brigades had been destroyed in the early '80s, in recent years reorganized cells assassinated some high-profile personalities (most notably, the labour policy consultant Massimo D'Antona); now these cells have been cracked again.

This is the general overview with a few poignant historical examples; now let's try to adapt it to a present-day thorny situation: the Israeli - Arab conflict.

I decided to publish this post in two parts, actually. The second part will be available soon.


ok, grazie per aver messo il tuo link. A breve ti linko.
Ciao, aa.


Cari Amici
I think that you in Italy have something to worry about, but, if it's any consolation, you may have an advantage over the British. That is because Britain has had a pro-Muslim, pro-Arab policy in its general foreign and colonial policy since the 1920s at least. The Copts in Egypt were already complaining before WW One about pro-Muslim discrimination by the Brits in Egitto then [prima di 1914]. Britain favored Muslim aspirations in India, dividing up the country in order to create Pakistan [if you're in Italy, you should check out the excellent article in Il Foglio by Carlo Pannella on Pakistan published about a week ago]. In Israel the Brits favored the Arabs from 1920, despite their commitment under the League of Nations mandate to foster development of the Jewish National Home. In Sudan, they placed the tribal Blacks at the mercy of Arabs/Muslims, with the resulting massacre/genocide of several million since 1956. Where there was a conflict between Arab Muslims and non-Arab Muslims, the Brits favored the Arabs, as in the case of Kurds in Iraq. Yet Italy in recent years has tried to be more balanced in its Middle East policy and has not coddled the Islamist extremists the way the UK has done, which earned their capital the sobriquet Londonistan. If Pisanu and his administration really watch them very carefully, as they promise, then Italy may escape the horror. In any case, you see that favoring Muslims over many many years did not spare Britain from the recent attacks. Of course, public opinion must push the govt, otherwise people like the Il Manifesto journalists will push them.

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