“Conflict Resolution” is basically a “cod” academic discipline. A bit like “Media Studies”.
Its a bit like Synchronised Swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Beach Volleyball in the Olympics. Nice to look at and occasionally interesting but “Is it Sport?”.
Basically in History, Conflicts DO get resolved. Appomattox in 1865. Hiroshima in 1945. Not necessarily by overt “War”. South Africas conflict was resolved by a relatively peaceful transition to Democracy. Israel-Palestine and the wider Middle East is the playground of Conflict Resolutionists. Its attraction is that it is never-ending and therefore a big money spinner for them.
Norn Iron is a challenge for Conflict Resolutionists. Paradoxically we resolved our little conflict by basically ignoring it. We resolved that…it couldnt be resolved. We reached a Peace Settlement which had “creative ambiguity” written all over it. It was all things to all people…..and Nationalists/Republicans and Unionists/Loyalists could claim that the result favoured them.
Of course Nationalists and Unionists might be wrong. Either might be right. Both of them cant be right.
Cards on table time…I LIKE PEACE. I like our Peace settlement. Of course at least part of my support for the Peace Process is built on my belief that it does vindicate the nationalist/republican agenda and will facilitate further movement towards a United Ireland. On a more personal level I am satisfied that the life my children and grandchildren will live will be free of the worst aspects of the life that I lived thru.
But this is not good enough for the Conflict Resolution people. It is not enough that we have an unsatisfactory peace. These people have chosen to pick thru the pieces of the Agreement. They dont want the Conflict to be “parked”….they want it to be “resolved”, facilitated by……..conflict resolutionists.
Not surprisingly few Conflict Resolutionists have actually grown up in Norn Iron. A disproportionate are American and English academics who want to lay their healing hands on me. I dont want that. Not least because they have no mandate to so do.
Unpicking the “creative ambiguity” means unpicking the Agreement itself, which is all fine and dandy if we expolde into violence again and you can shrug your shoulders and move back to write your new book on Conflict Resolution at Harvard or move on to put your healing hands on the next flavour of the month……Afghanistan or wherever.
Actually our temperate climate and general politeness has proved to be a magnet for the Conflict Resolution International Brotherhood. It is just about impossible to walk past Queens University Belfast without falling over delegates from Serbia, Rwanda, South Africa and Palestine.
We cant do much about our climate. But we can do a little about our politeness and simply tell these Conflict Resolutionists that we dont need them and we dont want them.
Essentially they have an agenda which proclaims that we need to re-visit our Past in order to “move on”……for “closure”. The fact is that we have moved on. Its the Conflict Resolutionists who are living in the Past. They tell us that we need a Truth Commission…..for no better reason than the South Africans had one. And of course, a Truth Commission will provide jobs……as researchers etc for …..Conflict Resolutionists.
They massage the egos of ex-prisoners, especially loyalists who dont have the same voice that republican ex-prisoners have thru Sinn Féin. They assidously court “victims”. The fact is that there are almost more “victims groups” than there were victims and frankly no “victims group” speaks with the same voice as another “victims group”.
Conflict Resolutionists may not have much support from REAL people. But funnily enough they have support from lawyers and journalists…..two of the groups which did well financially out of the Troubles. They need another Cash Cow.