Introduction to IJWP, June 2011
As the Soviet empire collapsed around 1990, there was great hope that the many peoples whose national identities had been suppressed would get their own nation-states. The ideal of a nation-state as the normal form of society has been emblazoned on Western consciousness since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. However, a “nation-state” implies a “culture on a territory” and in Europe today there are few, if any, territories with homogeneous cultures. This was especially true of both the former Yugoslavia and the former USSR, where there were many migrations and intermarriages under the umbrella of secular socialist regimes.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union, many small territories have sought their independence as nation-states, some of these are Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria. These regions are called “frozen conflict zones” because of their unsettled status since 1992. They operate somewhat autonomously within states.
Our first article, by Bernardo Venturi, is on the Moldova-Transnistria conflict. Transnistria, a small strip of land east of the Dniester River, officially belongs to Moldova but in many ways exists as an independent state with its own government, military, currency, and postal service. Its citizens have an affinity toward the Ukraine, Russia, and Poland, whereas much of the rest of Moldova considers itself as part of greater Romania and seeks to enter the European Union through Romania. Transnistria declared independence in 1990, but Moldova does not recognize the secession. Transnistria is recognized by Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but not by any UN member.
Our second article, by Ulricke Graalfs, is on Georgia and the de facto republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. South Ossetians declared independence for Georgia in 1990. A 1992 war in Abkhazia led to Georgian defeat giving Abkhazians their independence. Both of these republics are economically integrated with Russia and are officially recognized by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru, a tiny South Pacific island state.
For practical reasons, pluralistic states and empires have generally kept a margin of separation between culture and politics, allowing some autonomy for cultural groups as long as they subordinated themselves to the political rulers. And, in the case of the Netherlands and the United States, political integration after independence was impossible to achieve without guaranteeing religious freedom to the many cultural groups accepting a new constitution. However, nation-states the size of Transnistria or South Ossetia are too small to defend themselves from invasion without the protection of a larger power. For this reason we must question whether they are really independent.
The Roman Empire had declared Christianity as the official state religion in 380 ad. But the history of the Holy Roman Empire was one of Dark Ages, intrigue, and the attempt by each sphere—spiritual and temporal—to subdue the other. Today we have the development of a third sphere of society, the economic, which also vies for control of the power of governments, particularly in the form of large corporations that are wealthier than many states. Today many scholars view our world as a “post-Westphalian” world.
The dream of a nation-state and the reality of pluralism continue to be a source of great conflict around the world as ethnic and cultural groups have fought over the control of state governments and resources, and promoted ethnic cleansing and genocide. This dream spills over into tribal conflicts for control of African states, for religious control of Middle-Eastern states, and ideological control of democratic states.
When outside states get involved with diplomacy, power politics, peacekeepers, and their own dreams of empire—first-track diplomacy—the solutions become political and cultural aspirations of peoples often continue to be suppressed. So, a new form of conflict resolution known as “second-track diplomacy” has developed, particularly in the former Soviet bloc, in the cultural sphere under the umbrella of Civil Society Organization (CSOs). This form of diplomacy seeks to accommodate cultural differences, and provide greater cultural freedom and autonomy.
Political rhetoric often masks economic goals under religious and cultural rubric. In reality there are three social spheres—politics, culture, and economy—that must be coordinated in a modern complex society. In the economic sphere, we often have some “functional” integration related to the sharing of waterways, power plants, and shared resources. We also now have corporations that, like cultures, have transcended political boundaries. It might be useful to think about addressing tensions between economic institutions and states as “third-track diplomacy.”
Our third article, by Steve Dobransky, looks at the possibility of economic development of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a model for other states. Using the “black pearl model,” he discusses the role of migratory workers who are treated as second-class people in the UAE, but nevertheless find a mutually beneficial relationship working for those who control the vast oil resources. This economy is very different from the development of a country that lacks resources, like Japan, yet may offer a model of economic development that allows otherwise impoverished peoples some form of upward mobility where control of wealth is centralized.
Our book reviews also address many of the developing issues related to civil society, government, and economy, whose underlying principles are love, power, and the market. The rise of CSOs in the secular West are to some extent a replacement for what we called “religions” that served as the basis of community in pre-secular states. They are motivated by humanitarian concerns rooted in the agape love of others. Hence our first book review of Civil Society & Peacebuilding and the next three reviews of books on the relationship of power and love in society are apt. And, in the Middle East where governments continue to control the economy and impede market forces, a book that explains the economic pressures on the young generation, published before this year’s unrest, prophetically explains why such unrest exists and some of the issues that must be resolved in that part of the world.
Gordon L. Anderson
- From the Editor 3
- Civil Society Organizations and Conflict Resolution: Moldova-Transnistria, Bernardo Venturi 7
- The Georgian-Abkhaz Dialog and Second Track Diplomacy, Ulrike Graalfs 35
- The United Arab Emirates and The Black Pearl Model of Economic Development, Steve Dobransky 45
- Civil Society & Peacebuilding: A Critical Assessment, Korey Dyck, reviewer 85
- Does Peacekeeping Work? Shaping Belligerents’ Choices after Civil War, Maia Hallward, reviewer 88
- Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change, Stephanie Nichole Van Hook, reviewer 91
- Peace First: A New Model to End War, Michael Allen Fox, reviewer 94
- Generation in Waiting: The Unfulfilled Promise of Young People in the Middle East, Karen Ross, reviewer 98
- Global Gender Issues in the New Millennium, Third Edition, Tisa M. Anders, reviewer 101