> Vol. 5, No 3. 2015 > Golden Opportunities for Civilian Power

RICK BARTON
Golden Opportunities for Civilian Power


15 2015

The United States needs a united, affirmative agenda for conflict response in the 21st century. As the complexity and impact of far-flung conflicts grows, we must respond both effectively – to help countries resolve the top issues driving violence – and strategically – providing the right tools only when cases are ripe for our help. While state-on-state violence has declined, today’s conflicts are more varied. They erupt faster, with a greater ease and diversity of violence, under less control of political elites. Popular revolts are expanding, driven by emotion and commitment and spread by narrative resonance and all manner of media, often fueled by neighborhood meddling. Where the 20th century saw large conflagrations that killed nearly a hundred million people, the 21st century has started with hundreds of smaller, less ordered, yet fear producing events that kill dozens on most days and create a broad sense of insecurity. Overt attacks from within a region may no longer be necessary because of the ease of reach into other countries to promote conflict. These aspects of crisis are emerging at a time when the American people are looking for alternatives to the kind of interventions we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan.