Undoing feudalism : a new look at communal conflict mediation
Hetrick, Randal A.
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This paper argues that modem intrastate communal warfare exhibits several unique qualities that distinguish such conflicts, significantly, from the wars in America's historical experience. It demonstrates that identifying the social constructions of reality is a central task for analysts seeking to comprehend the characteristics that define communal conflict. It explains that the objectives for which communal conflicts are waged are often perceived as indivisible, zero sum contests in the most absolute sense and thus differ, fundamentally, from those upon which many inter-state wars of politics are predicated. It illustrates the pernicious but seldom discussed effects of incoherent force structure which provide both the catalyst to escalation and an unavoidable obstacle to negotiations. It concludes that the state-based, implicitly coherent. rational actor paradigm for international relations is simply inadequate for the task of analyzing and describing communal conflicts which manifest no such characteristics. The paper proposes a two-fold conceptual strategy for mediation based upon the extent to which a given conflict has escalated, and the level to which its internal force structure has fragmented toward incoherence. The proactive strategy addresses conflicts at an early stage and applies a sociological approach to disarm misperceptions and deconstruct conflict. The reactive strategy requires a forcibly imposed ceasefire followed by extensive sociological, economic, and psychological approaches toward undoing feudalism, that is, toward reunifying fragmented communal society
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