Power, Morality and the (R)evolution of Strategic Integration:
An Analysis of International Conflict Prevention
Context and Literature
Strategic integration and peace-building is a fairly broad concept outlined in a number of seminal works (Walter, 2002; Tschirgi, 2004; Philpott/Powers, 2010; Toft, 2010) that essentially seeks to address conflict prevention, management and resolution at basically all levels of society. More specifically, its central premise consists in devising elaborate and mutually beneficial solutions to the different aspects and manifestations of contemporary conflicts through considering a preclusion or pre-emptive rectification of their underlying causes and grievances as essential to the peaceful long-term preservation of international order and security. In that regard, closely related ideas such as those put forward by various globalization and integration theories, notably Complex Interdependence Theory (Keohane/Nye, 1997) as well as early functionalism and neo-functionalism (Mitrany, 1933, 1976; Sewell, 1966; Haas; 1958, 1964; Groom/Taylor, 1975) are of particular significance to how a greater degree of international governance and stability may be established in the contemporary world.
In addition, the pioneering writings of the 'English School' (Hull 1977, 1984; Wright 1978, 1995; Buzan 1983, 1997; Hurrell, 2007) likewise provide valuable insights in relation to the idea of 'strategic integration', above all by asking how states' common interests and their fear of unrestricted violence (Hull, 1977) may ultimately serve to broaden modern definitions of not only established inter-state rules and norms, but of more collective and morality-based security conceptions as well. Finally, as the idea of different types of power projection in global affairs is key to the development of coherent 'strategic integration' policies, academic expositions on the various kinds of power sources available to state actors in contemporary politics, particularly in the form of 'smart power' (Nye 2004, 2011; Crocker/Hampson/Aall, 2007) and 'structural power' (Strange 1987; Guzzini, 1993), should also be thoroughly studied in the larger context of 'strategic integration' schemes.
Strategic Integration in International Politics
The international community these days possesses the requisite power tools and material capacities to intervene in both sub-regional and trans-regional conflicts the world over. Still, even the most powerful among its constituent member states hardly ever appears capable to altogether prevent them, much less to shape and direct their outcome in a peaceful and largely non-violent fashion. The interdependence of an increasingly globalized political economy economic; the normative provisions and standards of international institutions; the political, financial and cultural cooperation achieved through supra-national entities such as the UN and the IMF; the lethality and universal destructiveness of nuclear and biochemical weapons; and, above all, the relative degree of systemic stability witnessed these last few decades may all indeed have served to render the spectre of all-out territorial conflict and inter-state strife slightly less threatening than in centuries past. Yet while the visible face of war and conflict may thus have been altered by technological advances and/or more durable and sophisticated structures of human association, threats of a cross-regional, if not global international order still continue to exist into the early 21st century.
These threats and dangers to the international system manifest themselves in various forms and shapes, ranging from jihadist extremism and acts of fundamentalist terrorism on a small and larger (e.g. transnational) scale, the unchecked exploitation and depletion of the planet’s natural resources, economic protectionism and a sustained global recession, failure to securitize deadly pathogens and pandemics in affected areas, resurgent nationalism, revanchism and/or irredentism in politically volatile and unstable regions, inter-state antagonism over unsettled territorial issues and mineral rights (e.g. Israel-Palestine, Kashmir conflict, East Asian maritime disputes, etc...), the political and judicial disintegration/failure of small and middle-sized states, blatant and ongoing disregard for basic human rights; and, arguably most perilous of all, nuclear proliferation and the emergence of a fully armed nuclear terrorist state. One may argue that none of these problems as yet constitutes an immediate menace to the territorial integrity or national sovereignty of western states, or at least not the extent that the expansionist ambitions and military prowess of revisionist states in the 20th century repeatedly threatened the very survival of established international norms and systems.
Once again, however, it is imperative for international society to not merely detect and respond to short-term risks and dangers to its approved modes of operation. Instead the very nature and multi-layered dimensions of an intricately interwoven global security framework commands us to identify pre-emptively any such developments and grievances which, no matter how insignificant or peripheral they may appear to our own safety and prosperity, might nonetheless already carry the seeds of future long-term altercations and disputes. Yet while we fairly often recognize the growing interconnectedness of individual events and forces in seemingly disparate corners of the world, our over-all strategic approach to such potential conflicts unfortunately still lacks an equally pronounced degree of systematic global integration.
More specifically, although both unilateral and multilateral responses to regional security incidents often draw on a variety of power types to either manage or control them, varying according to the contextual backgrounds of these conflicts from hard military power (e.g. air strikes, asymmetrical warfare, limited interventions, etc...) to different kinds of soft power (economic sanctions, monetary incentives, development aid programmes, energy provision, cultural exchanges)—or a combination of both under the increasingly popular term of ‘smart power’—, joint efforts by the international community to devote a commensurate amount of their time, resources and commitments to the mutually conducive objective of strategic integration as a key and indispensable precondition to trans-regional conflict prevention have yet to materialize in an adequate and truly comprehensive fashion. In other words, the maintenance and proper functioning of the present international system still relies all to heavily on reactive policies and operations to eliminate security threats and conflicts rather than on proactive strategies to pre-empt or mitigate against them. The occasional application of hard and soft power initiatives may indeed most of the time suffice to curtail the worst excesses and/or potential spill-over effects of regional upheavals, yet without a concurrent and ongoing investment in a plurality of structural and (trans)-formative power forms to bolster the transnational safety and stability of concerned areas as a matter of principle, international society will most likely continue to be deprived of the elementary means and mechanisms to forestall the periodical recurrence of endemic conflicts in the first place.
Undoubtedly many promising schemes and solutions have already been adopted to avoid regional conflicts as well as their possibly far-reaching and inimical consequences for the security and well-being of the larger international community. For instance, it is widely accepted that the recruitment process of fanatic extremists are not merely restricted to war-ridden places such as Iraq or Afghanistan, but that it might just as well originate in the deranged minds of dissatisfied individuals living in our very midst and who, for various reasons, may ultimately be drawn to fundamentalist propaganda as a result of perceived injustices allegedly committed against their people or religion by western civilization. Similarly, it is commonly understood that the speedy, peaceful and orderly resolution of civilian conflicts and sectarian violence is of critical importance to the shared interests of nearly all modern states, notably in terms of precluding the potentially irrevocable spread and establishment of trans-continental terrorist networks seeking to gain access to the considerable weapons arsenals of recently toppled or incapacitated regimes. Likewise, there have been numerous attempts in the economic sphere to achieve a genuine reform or greater regulation of the international market system, particularly with a view to strengthening global financial institutions and making them less vulnerable to cyclical disruptions. Moreover, minimal economic growth is also frequently related to a re-surfacing of nationalist sentiments and/or seditious tendencies, especially as concerns individual states' continued willingness to embrace without questioning the capitalist structures of a liberal international order which on account of its arguably inherent shortcomings and deficiencies they might eventually no longer regard to be entirely beneficial to the promotion of their own national needs and interests.
- Quote paper
- Joe Majerus (Author), 2016, Power, Morality, and the (R)evolution of Strategic Integration, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/433426