Why Are There Wars Without End?
Published in Inside - Volume XII, No.2
Even as events took place in September recognizing this year's International Day of Peace, most people would concede that some conflicts seem impossible to resolve. Indeed, of the 20 major armed conflicts waged around the globe during 2005, nearly half had been in progress for 10 years or more, and a quarter were more than 25 years old.
Are there common features to these intractable conflicts? With variables that include the psychological, economic, religious, and political, it is difficult to generalize from one situation to the next, much less pinpoint solutions.
Yet those are precisely the goals of a unique new three-year study led by Peter Coleman, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education, and Director of TC's
For several years Coleman and his team have worked to identify key dynamics of intractable conflicts. From those findings, the research team will create basic parameters of intractability and enter those parameters into computer simulations.
"We can use the computer simulations to ask, -'If we change one thing in a conflict, what happens in five years?' -'If we change two things, what happens?'" Coleman says, adding that while most research analyzes the effects of just one or two variables, simulating key changes with a computer model can reveal the complex interactions of changes in multiple variables and their impact on how patterns of behavior unfold over time.
Coleman's team is also developing a survey that will be implemented in the
The research will include a case study of
In October, the research team is meeting in
Ultimately, Coleman said, they hope to create new ways to teach people on a broad scale about conflict: "What we find may have policy implications for how leaders think about policy around conflict and peace and how people involved in conflict resolution are trained."previous page