Conflict Management: Intentions & Time Factors

 Speaking early this month at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner, Obama mock-threatened the boyband idolized by his daughters with those words: “Boys – don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: Predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

The audience applauded the President’s crude, cruel and coarse humor without realizing that the said remarks in themselves and the appalling response was being watched by the world-at-large as an indicator of a specific mindset in how to deal with conflict management by the US political establishment and the American public. The implicit message in the President’s speech was that a lethal, quick and debilitating response by brutal force to any adversary is the strategic doctrine of the Obama administration in face of a conflict situation – deliver the blow first, ask questions later!

Human conduct and behavior are the mirror image of the internal thought process which reflect hidden intentions. Humanity at large has devised language and used rhetoric as a concealing strategy to hide intentions. Take for example, Obama’s rhetorical excess.  He came to the American presidency with a specific promise of “change” and a commitment to “world peace” and “building bridges” with Islamic nations. In reality, what Obama has done is to expand the American right-wing ideological doctrine to promote worldwide conflicts and to conduct conflict-management by military force.  Obama “expanded the war on terror into North-West Pakistan,” wrote Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian news recently. “According to one recent estimate by Pakistani officials, the CIA’s Predator drone strikes killed 700 civilians, the majority women and children, during Obama’s first year in office… Obama has ramped up the killing spree, firing 18 missiles on May 10 (2010) alone. And the normalization of these almost every day massacres proceeds apace.”

It is instructive to understand the relationship between “time” (as a process in the execution of a specific policy) and real “intentions” of policy makers in the conducting of conflict management. Obama, and for that matter the entire Western political establishment, has been quick in delivering military solutions against the Afghan insurgents (though absurdly impractical and strategically flawed). On the other hand, the Western powers and now Obama’s administration have been deliberating “timelessly” about giving a fair and just solution to Palestinian issues of a homeland after theirs was illegally snatched by the Zionists (this act illegitimately endorsed by the West) six decades ago. There seems to be no concern, either on a humanitarian basis or for political efficaciousness, that a long period of nearly 7 decades has gone by without giving due justice to the impoverished people made homeless by deliberate political intentions plotted in  Western capitals. Consequently, it is obvious that the longer the “time-span” in the resolution of a conflict management, the more this process points towards hidden and deceitful “intentions” of the major political actors involved in perhaps not giving a just and reasonable solution to the issue.

Another vivid example of this long extended “time-span” and deceitfully concealed political “intentions” in conflict-management is India dragging its feet on the Kashmir issue. Though over sixty years have gone-by, the Indian political establishment was still deliberating “on the issues of confidence-building measures, economic development, strengthening of ties across the Line of Control, good governance and center-state relations” with Srinagar in May 2006. In the forthcoming Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Kashmir on June 7, 2010, the Kashmiri Chief Minister and the Indian P.M. will be discussing essentially the same issues that were deliberated in the May 2006 talks. The primary objective of the June 7th meeting is to “assess the movement forward in the dialogue process and how it can be taken to its logical conclusion.” The question is: what logical conclusion?  Isn’t it absurd to be still talking about “the movement forward in the dialogue process” after over 60 years have gone by? Why is India still at the “dialogue process” stage? Doesn’t it tell us loudly and clearly that India has no intention of resolving the Kashmir issue or making a commitment to bow to the demands and to the political aspirations of the Kashmiri people? The fact of the matter is that India is not planning to let the Kashmiri people decide on their own political future and on their own political independence or destiny.  The long “time-span” combined with hidden Indian “intentions” is a testament to this ugly political reality. The Kashmiri people are left with only one option: continue their struggle for independence in whatever manner and by whatever means they have to!

Compare this deliberate delaying strategy of long “time spans” intertwined with concealed “intentions” in conflict-management with the swiftness of political action in a given conflict situation where “intentions” are honorable and long “time-span” tactics are not used to conceal hidden political “intentions” and “agendas”.

Brazil’s President Lula da Silva and Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan were able to hammer out in a mere 18 hours of negotiations with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the agreement to resolve and defuse the so-called international crisis (an issue fabricated by the US-Israeli-Western alliance) over Iran’s nuclear activities. The agreement, simple and straight-forward, makes provisions for Iran to transfer 1200 kilograms of low enriched uranium to Turkey within one month and to receive in exchange 120 kilograms of higher-enriched uranium for medical purposes within one year. Case closed, solution found, conflict management by good “intentions” and swiftness in “time” put together in viable political judgment and simple prompt political action.

Not acceptable (as expected) in Washington, London, and some of America’s allies who have dismissed the agreement as a “delaying tactic”. The practitioners of delayed “time frames” and hidden “intentions” cannot come to terms with sophisticated swiftness in diplomatic skills and the search for peaceful resolution in an initiative that might change the prevailing strategic outlook in global conflict management.

There is another important side to it: If the Tehran agreement sticks, the US and its allies fear that there might be a recognition in the developing countries, most specifically in Turkey and Brasil “that rising powers have a stake in sustaining a rules-based global order.” And that is precisely what the US-Western imperialist political establishments cannot imagine contending with.

Rules-based global order is not an option viewed favorably and positively by Washington and its allies in Western European capitals.  The sky will fall should the likes of China, Turkey and Brazil be the flag-bearers of a rules-based global order and contribute to the development of a conflict-management strategy as major political actors. From the western perspective, they should simply be “stakeholders” in a system that must remain undisputedly controlled by the US and its allies.

“Seen from Ankara or Brasilia, or indeed from Beijing, there is an important snag  in this argument. They are not being invited to craft a new international order but rather to abide by the old (Western) rules. As I heard one Chinese scholar remark this week, it is as if the rising nations have been offered seats at a roulette table only on a strict understanding the West retains ownership of the casino… Imagining a different future, though, is not the same as coming to terms with it. IF the West wants global order, it has to get used to others having a say in making the rules,” wrote Philip Stephens in the Financial Times recently.

A rules-based global order – that does not seem to be a prospect in the near future!

Didn’t Barrack Obama say just the other day: “Boys – don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: Predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

That is the shape of things to come…Unless we, the people around the world, collectively put an end to the US-Western mindset!

Unfortunately, India has already fallen into that Western way of thinking!



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