Tuesday 30 August 2011

Lessons from a Decade of Conflict

Looking back at the last ten years, it is tempting to wonder if the world has not learned anything at all about conflict and conflict resolution in that time.

Afghanistan may have been a war of necessity after 9/11, but the international community continues to under-value the need for functioning government institutions to deliver services and justice free from corruption, and consequently the insurgency is now stronger than ever. Pakistan, where millions of people have been displaced by militancy and counter-terrorism activities, enjoys no more stability than ten years ago. Iraq, a thoroughly avoidable war justified through a political abuse of the memory of 9/11, took the lives of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and more than 4,400 US military, far more Americans than were killed on that fateful day in September 2001.

In monetary terms, these wars alone have cost trillions of US dollars and played no small part in the crippling government debt crisis in America today.

Equally worryingly, universal values took a serious hit over the past decade. We witnessed extrajudicial renditions and imprisonment at the hands of Western governments supposedly dedicated to universal human rights. Even worse, torture became an issue of public debate rather than a moral red line.