WPR Feature Issue: Intractable Conflict

For those of you who enter the site through the blog, I’d like to encourage you to take a look at our new feature issue, which just went live today. In it, we take a close look at three intractable conflicts that have resisted solutions for generations, and that we’ve all seen drifting in and out of the headlines for decades now: Sumantro Bose examines the Kashmir conflict, Brian Calvert looks at Sri Lanka, and Gareth Jenkins shines a light on Cyprus. (All three sub. req.)

What I found most fascinating, in going through them all, is that while the three case studies share some common characteristics, in many ways they bear no resemblance to each other. Sri Lanka’s brutal violence, for instance, contrasts with the relative peacefulness of the Cyprus conflict. But the lack of bloodshed in the Cyprus dispute has not made it any less recalcitrant. Similarly, the regional/European elements of Cyprus, extending beyond Greece and Turkey, contrast with the relatively bilateral level of impasse in Kashmir. But the latter conflict, though limited to two principles, has been no easier to solve.

As Bose discusses with regards to Kashmir, as much as territorial or ethno-nationalist disputes, these conflicts have to do with competing ideologies of nation-statehood. That means different things to the different actors involved. But it is the ideological elements, more than the military or political ones, that often stand in the way of resolution. For that reason, as Calvert point out, it will take some time before we’ll know for sure if the end of hostilities in Sri Lanka will translate into an end of the conflict.

Anyway, I recommend all three. And in case you haven’t noticed yet, we’ve made the “Discuss” feature at the top of each article a lot more user-friendly. You still need to be subscribed to comment, but once you’re logged in, it’s really a snap.