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The security dilemma can be used explain and predict ethnic conflict within a given state. Posen’s argument is supported by the belief that the basic tenets of realism provide a clear view of the security dilemma and its relationship with ethnic conflict. I believe the security dilemma in general is largely based in realist theory, and therefore fails to view international relations fairly. I believe that liberalism offers important insight into dealing with conflict that Posen fails to address.Realist theory believes that one states military improvements are undistinguishable as offensive or defensive, and are seen as threats to another state.
This, in turn, requires the opposing state to improve its military to ensure its own self interest. Posen argues that when an empire falls, there will be a power struggle between competing groups, within a state, as a result of the anarchy left by the failing empire. It is argued by Posen that the competing groups variations in the history of their group and whatever military power they may have will threaten other groups, creating a security dilemma, which results in ethnic conflict.I believe the security dilemma is shaped by realist theory because it presupposes military improvements will be seen as threats.
It has been shown that military improvements are not always seen as threats, for example the United States is not threatened by Pakistan having nuclear weaponry. Mutual agreements can be reached to provide trust that military armament isn’t threatening. I believe that ethnic conflict is avoidable within a failing state. Cooperation can occur between groups, if they can see the security it will provide.
Mutual agreements can be reached by ethnic groups to cooperate prior to conflict, which can secure their self interest. Posen feels agreements are often reached after conflicts have already began with cease-fires. He also contends a cease-fire only occurs when one side feels successful and the opposing side fears the result of continued conflict. Posen argues that a cease-fire does not mean peace, and often comes too far along in the conflict, proving international organizations are unable to diminish the security dilemma. This idea further presupposes the ideas of realist. Realist are traditionally skeptical of the ability of international organizations to act as planned. Realist feel that states will not place their self interest the hands of other countries.
I contend that international organizations can play a major role in ameliorating conflict between ethnic groups. If an international organization, acting as a mediating third party, can take steps to clear misperceptions between competing groups, conflict can be avoided. Also international organizations provide other countries the opportunity to take collective action. Posen argues that strong group identity and military power are viewed always as threats by opposing groups. Also it is argued that strong group identity, group cohesion, is a threat because it furnishes a group with ” emotional power” for a military to take offensive measures.
He argues that “when humans can readily cooperate the whole exceeds the sum of the parts”p.359. Why then, cannot this idea be applied to people feeling a strong group identity toward the human race? If humans are able to realize the power of cooperation, and can see that having a strong group identity as humans is beneficial, then conflict is avoidable. If ethnic groups can count on each other to be non threatening, the security dilemma it self can be avoided.I believe that rather than placing the blame for conflict between groups on the security dilemma, it can be placed on the weak condition the failing empire was left in.The state failed due to a weak government and along with weak government many necessary institutions were in poor condition. In states where education and healthcare are priorities, and the government is viewed legitimately it is rare to find ethnic conflict.
If the government provides for its people, then often the people