“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
In discussing international affairs, we talk often of conflict, tension, disturbance, volatility. It’s somewhat more rare to talk about peace. Many times, it’s to reference a temporary respite in some long-fought struggle or a momentary compromise in a simmering confrontation. We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that peace is simply an absence of conflict, as if it does not necessitate the coordination, skill, and concerted effort that conflict and warfare requires. In reality, peace is often infinitely harder to uphold and maintain than conflict.
There has certainly been some recognition of this shortcoming in the way that we talk about international affairs. Over the past several decades, research institutes devoted to peace have sprung up throughout the world. Peace studies is now a recognized interdisciplinary field of study. In fact, there’s a Peace and Reconciliation Studies program here at the University of Maine. Scholarly journals exist devoted to peace research and peace studies. In short, there is a growing movement to study peace with the same sophistication and depth with which we pore over conflict, confrontation and hostility.
The posts featured for this week all deal with the complex machinery of peace, in different ways and to varying degrees. The students have been hard at work on their final papers, so the blogging requirements have been somewhat more lenient these past few weeks, with students putting up optional posts as they have time. As a result, these posts cover two weeks rather than the traditional weekly round-up.
Nevertheless, we have some really great featured posts. Jennie Bailey offers a post on the likelihood that Nigeria’s newly elected president, Mahammadu Buhari, may be able to bring order and stability to that country. Hannah Cole considers the controversial “right of return” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the forms of compromises that might pave the way to a lasting peace. Cody Morgan examines the tentative agreement reached with Iran over its nuclear program and the likelihood that it survives these initial stages, creating a lasting drawing down of global tension. Vie Nadeau-Carney examines the ways that education might improve the lives of children in Pakistan and create a peaceful and more stable society for future generations. Molly Nevins examines the costly impacts of corruption on efforts to increase economic development, peace, and stability in Sub-Saharan Africa through foreign aid.
We’re nearing the end of the semester, about to start out final week of classes. Thus, our course blog will soon be coming to an end. Stay tuned for a final round-up post in which students offer an overview of what they have learned working on their topics this semester and offer predictions for the future.