> 3, 2014 > The Role of Enablers in Contemporary Confl icts and the Enabling of Diplomats to Respond to them: an American Perspective

Alan Henrikson
The Role of Enablers in Contemporary Confl icts and the Enabling of Diplomats to Respond to them: an American Perspective


26 2015

The word “enabler” is not an established term of art in international relations. It is not known to International Law or to academic IR theory — or to Diplomatic Studies. Nonetheless, in the real world, the actions of those who make it possible for conflicts that now rage around the world to continue and even to spread are felt, sometimes painfully — even if not clearly seen, closely tracked, or well understood. The nature of “contemporary conflict” is itself problematical. No longer is conflict only the clash of military arms or even another form of violence. Conflict need not always be the result even of explicit antagonism, of “ancient hatreds.” It can nowadays be almost any situation of extreme tension that arises from human desperation within and between societies as, for example, when natural disasters, economic crises, or disease outbreaks such as the current Ebola flare-up in West Africa occur. Conflict is struggle — inner as well as outer. Its nature and shape can change, sometimes suddenly, owing to events. Or, simply, from fear.