Conflict theory as preceding step to Security Studies - Analysis - Facultad de Derecho

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Conflict theory as preceding step to Security Studies – Analysis

Alfredo Angulo Palma

Security Studies gives us lights on threats which endanger a referent object in International Relations; however, it only displays, before an unskilled eye, the comportment of actors during conflicts. Only the iceberg tip that is not enough for performing an analytical study, and of course, not adequate for distinguishing some tangible causation of such conflict. To dig deeply in conflicts, and before going toward Security Studies’ analysis, one preceding step is needed for unmasking the true origin of an explicit conflict.

Johan Galtung, the famous Norwegian mathematician and philosopher, stated that conflict is the addition of contradiction, presumption and attitude, and comportment.

His well-known Conflict Triangle shows all relations among the aforesaid, and three aspects of the parties to the conflict: subjective (between), motivational (inside), and objective (outside). These cannot be treated separately, and only their integration could lead to display the hidden causes of conflicts.

In the other hand and upon international conflicts, Joshua Goldstein & J. Pevenhouse (2010-2011) sorted the international conflicts in two groups. Going further from the core grounds in International Relations as the war is, they classified conflicts in both Conflicts of Ideas and Conflicts of Interest. By doing so, interconnective levels of power and goals emerge and these are specified. Whether exists an «inside» and «outside» the conflicts, then the Galtung theory is more usable due to the Norwegian scientist made a clear difference between dispute and dilemma, called them conflict’s atoms. These atoms are very helpful for guiding a deep analysis.

Imagine the State as a rational actor, and a specific situation going into a conflict condition. Is genocide a dispute or dilemma? Is a political conflict a dispute, dilemma, or both? To answer these queries is essential to remind their definitions. Two (or more) incompatible goals which are pursued by a being “in” generate a Dilemma. Two (or more) beings “among” trying to get a scarce resource produces a dispute. As Alan Collins (2013) said, in his notable work “Contemporary Security Studies”, it is required to have an approach to security.

In international relations, there is not a rigid method for developing a study. Much more important is developing a strong scheme related to the study´s subject. No matter the type of conflict, the analysis’ goal must lead for disclosing and finding out the true causes of conflicts, otherwise the dealing on a specific conflict will exhibit flaws.

Security Studies is a complex, ample, and vast field, and therefore It demands aid for narrowing the scope. Taking into consideration that in every place where alive beings are, also the conflict will be present. The Conflict Theory´s grounds should help in this sense. Shrinking the security subject also will help the analyst to identify if the conflict is the result of ideas or interests.

Finally, the foremost part is that arguments constitute the essence of every scholarly work, then is prudent the usage of the Conflict Theory before starting the Security Study. In this regard, as a complementary action, the Goldstein’s classification will be another aid. The eye of analyst lastly will watch the rest of the iceberg and not only the tip.

Categoría: Carrera de Relaciones Internacionales

Alfredo Angulo Palma

Máster en Servicio Internacional por la School Of International Service de la American University. Licenciado en Administración de Empresas por la Universidad Federico Villarreal.

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