Politik und Gesellschaft Online
International Politics and Society 2/2000

Hans R. Blumenthal

Klaus Eßer
Werner Kamppeter
Alfred Pfaller
Winfried Veit
Jan Martin Witte / Wolfgang Reinicke / Thorsten Benner

Hans R. Blumenthal:
Colombia: Dreams of Peace, Realities of War

For Colombia, the 20th century ended as it had begun: in (civil) war. The current, 40-year-old conflict between almost 30,000 guerrilleros, 6000-7000 paramilitaries and 157,000 soldiers ends each year with 3000 deaths, 1500 kidnappings and 400 massacres. In total, roughly 2 million people have been displaced by violence. The causes of the conflict are unresolved social tensions coupled with the loss of legitimacy by and the absence of the Colombian state in many parts of the country. Globalization and the liberalization of the economy have added new problems. But it should be noted that the motives of the guerrilleros and paramilitaries are more diverse than that. Because of the links between the narcotics industry and the guerrillas, Colombia is regarded by military circles in the United States as the West's key security problem. At approx. $ 300 million, the country is the third-largest recipient of US military aid after Israel and Egypt. Over the last twenty years, six Colombian presidents have tried to end the conflict. Three governments opted for the path of negotiation, the clearest example being the current government of President Andrés Pastrana Arango (1998-2002). Not least due to the weakness of the Colombian military, his only option was to open negotiations with opponents whose motives for peace are not absolutely evident. But an armed conflict is deemed ready for negotiations when all sides feel that the costs of prolonging the conflict are higher than the costs of negotiation. In this regard, the Colombian civil war may not yet have reached the necessary maturity. The guerrillas broke off the negotiating process on several occasions and raised the stakes in the war via the taking of villages, massacres and kidnappings. But a different, more optimistic reading is also possible: the talks with the most important group of guerrillas, the FARC, were – against the resistance of the armed forces – held in a "demilitarized zone" granted to the rebels by the government. For the first time, the opponents agreed on a common agenda for talks. Both sides approved of the participation of civil society in the form of public hearings. Both the Colombian public and the US administration now accept that the resolution of the armed conflict is a central condition for successes in the war against the narcotics industry, for improvements in the human rights situation, and for the rehabilitation of the environment. The need for a negotiated settlement is also largely accepted. It seems certain that the resolution of the conflict will not follow the classic pattern of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of the guerrillas into civilian life. Instead, the end of the road will see a new "social contract", a new federal structure for Colombia with high levels of regional autonomy, the integration of the guerrillas into a new system of armed forces, and the legalization of the guerrillas' assets. All of this will incur substantial political and financial costs, and will demand great tolerance from Colombia's people and neighbours. It also seems sure that, without the active involvement of the international community, the process will have no prospect of success.

Klaus Eßer:
The Nation State and the Market Economy in Latin America – Chile as a Model?

The economic development of Latin America is still being fundamentally impeded by the continued existence of established social power structures. We have not seen the decisive interruptions in continuity which helped new actors to break through in the development of the industrial countries. All the shifts in economic policy have changed nothing of the inability of government and society to engender dynamic entrepreneurship and to put vital upstream factors in place. The so-called "Washington Consensus" deflected attention from this key dimension, as did the "Post-Washington Consensus". In this context, Chile has since 1985 or so succeeded not only in stabilising its economy, but also in making it dynamic by expanding commodity and commodity-based exports. Competition-oriented entrepreneurship forced back the previously dominant rent-seeking behaviour. The state developed sufficient independence and strength both to place the affluent classes under pressure to perform economically and to increase their ability to perform. And – not least due to the rapid onset of economic success – it won broad approval from the populace. Nevertheless, Chile is still hostage to the simple resource-based Latin American pattern of growth. In order to catch up with the productive strength and thus the prosperity of the industrial nations, the state will have to join forces with the emerging civil society and set world-market-oriented processes of learning in motion across a broad front. This refers not only to production-related technical expertise, but also to the institutional guidance and support of the economic process and to fundamental attitudes. It is not, however, possible simply to copy Western or Asian recipes for success. There is no way around a creative adaptation to the changed world market conditions. Whether or not Chile achieves this additional breakthrough will largely depend on whether the groups of actors which can carry and drive that sort of programme – a programme which affects the whole of society, and not just economic policy – can assert themselves. The development of Chile since the mid-1980s has created favourable conditions for this. But the vital steps have yet to be taken.

Werner Kamppeter:
European Integration and the Price of Peace

The European Union has become a peace community. Conflicts of interest are dealt with by negotiation based on binding procedures accepted by all. The former culture of war has been replaced by a new culture of negotiation. This has developed within the institutional structure of the European Community, which from the very outset was characterized by Jean Monnet's approach to integration: the equal status of all member states and the delegation of sovereignty to Community institutions was intended to create transparency and to enable everybody to control everybody. The need for negotiations between the member states and between the institutions of the Community developed dynamically and became more and more wide-ranging. This "functionalist" integration of governing elites makes war between the countries they represent structurally impossible and can even be regarded as a more reliable guarantee of peace than democracy. On the other hand, the effectiveness of the negotiations is not a criterion for success. On the contrary: EU negotiations are cumbersome and laborious and, like all compromises, only produce second- and third-best solutions at the end of the day. But that is the very thing that bears the seed for more and more new negotiations and thus secures the European "architecture of peace". Nor can an increase in economic efficiency be regarded as a criterion for success: the market is in fact the guarantor of the independence and autonomy of economic actors. It divides, and is therefore unable to create any political or other communities. In fact, pure market-based integration will tend to threaten political integration, which is based on compromise, and to undermine its legitimacy. One cannot therefore expect political integration to produce economic advantages. It is true that a larger economic area is less susceptible to external disruption, but it also requires greater efforts to preserve its internal cohesion and sufficient legitimacy. It is notable that small countries usually enjoy greater economic success. Once again, peace has its price. Size implies power over smaller countries and a counterweight to larger ones. The EU and its member states are already very skilled at deriving advantages from the economic and political dependency of small and weak countries. And the EU dreams of becoming an equal partner to the hegemon of the US. In reality, it is thereby threatening to revive on a global scale the old European disease of "balance-of-power games". The concept of the countervailing power does not fit in with the fact that – very much in line with Jean Monnet – attempts have long since begun at international level to forge institutions and rules which restrict power in general, and ultimately also hegemonic power, and which protect weaker countries from such power.

Alfred Pfaller:
Social Democracy in the Globalized Post-industrial Society

Democratic states based on the rule of law are "social" to the extent that they ensure that all citizens participate to an adequate degree in their country’s prosperity. In the 1960s and 1970s, several capitalist industrial states came close to this goal. "Prosperity for all" was based on four pillars: (a) full employment at acceptable wages, (b) insurance against the standard risks of life, (c) income support for those threatened by poverty, (d) free public services (especially education). Today, the preservation of "prosperity for all" is facing four major challenges: (1) tougher international competition, (2) scarcity of sufficiently well paid jobs, (3) the ageing society, (4) an increasingly volatile working life. But it is not just a question of material prosperity, but also of protecting the "sphere of life" from the demands of the market. The "sphere of life" is under threat both from changes in working patterns and from the erosion of traditional family functions. In the face of all four challenges, "prosperity for all" can continue to be achieved (or can be regained) if the welfare state mechanisms are adapted sensibly. In view of intensified international competition, it is necessary to reinforce the principle that social security and solidarity with one's weaker fellow citizens are a matter not of a economic affordability, but of political priorities. Employers' contributions to social security funds obscure this principle. The lack of "well" paid jobs can best be overcome by means of faster economic growth. This is desirable, but full employment without "working poor" can also be achieved at slower growth rates - in three ways: (1) permitting a low-wage sector to exist by deregulating the labour market and adding income support or wage subsidies, (2) tax-funded expansion of government employment, (3) redistribution of work. It should be said that none of these three solutions is without cost. The ageing of society is making pension provision more expensive, no matter which funding system is selected. It is up to the citizens to decide how much provision they want to afford, either collectively or individually. This does not pose a threat to "social" democracy. The "de-standardization" of working life suggests it would be appropriate to decouple social insurance and employment. In the interest of a protected "sphere of life", however, there should be limits to this. Once again, it is not a question of economic necessities, but of political priorities. The erosion of the traditional family functions (largely due to the emancipatory dynamism inherent in modern society) can – at least partly – be offset by more permeable careers (a greater adaptation of the sphere of work to the sphere of life) and by public child care. Each of the challenges described can be tackled at national level. Supranational solutions might be helpful, but are not required. The real question is whether sufficient political support can be mobilized for the necessary changes or whether society is ready to accept a large number of losers due to modernization. The misleading ideology of "equality of opportunity, not of outcome", favours the latter.

Winfried Veit:

The Middle East on the Road to Peace

With the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria and the – admittedly laborious – progress in the talks with the Palestinians on a definitive peace settlement, Ehud Barak, Israel's Prime Minister, has given a fresh impetus to the Middle East peace process. For the first time, there are on the horizon hesitant signs of hope of an end to the more than 100 years of bloody conflict between Jews and Arabs at the start of a new millennium. This hope derives from a substantial shift in the interests and options of the various sides. Today, Israel's security is far less reliant on control over certain strips of land, and is almost exclusively based on superior weapons technology. Also, Israel can expect a major peace dividend: in a peaceful environment, it could build on its relations with Europe and the Mediterranean in particular, and also, in economic terms, with Asia. For Arafat, the leader of the Palestinians, the range of options is shrinking. The prospect of peace between Syria and Israel (in return for handing back the Golan Heights) threatens to deprive the radical opponents of peace in the Palestinian camp of their Arab allies. Palestine will then come under very strong pressure to agree terms for peace. However, the new strategic criteria do not as yet guarantee that Barak's strategy will bring a breakthrough. Even if both Israel and Palestine are willing to agree terms for peace, the issues at stake are vital for each side, as more and more people are crowding onto increasingly scarce land with diminishing resources (particularly water). In addition, there are the religiously onhanced claims on both sides to holy places in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean coastline, and these are further exacerbating the conflict. But there are also a number of extremely complex problems to be resolved with Syria which affect fundamental Israeli security interests on the one hand and the way Syria has so far understood its role on the other. Furthermore, there is a threat to peace on the domestic front. The referenda promised by Barak on any future peace agreements with Syria and the Palestinians have yet to be won. The opponents are already on the campaign trail.


Jan Martin Witte / Wolfgang Reinicke / Thorsten Benner:

Beyond Multilateralism: Global Public Policy Networks

Governments and international organizations are increasingly unable to address complex global public policy issues. Their capacity to solve problems lags hopelessly behind the challenges facing them. A growing operational gap is emerging, along with a participation gap, because the democratically legitimized problem-solving structures are becoming less and less relevant. A problem-solving mechanism in the international arena which could fill both gaps might be provided by trilateral public policy networks in which government agencies (or the interstate organizations authorized by them), business representatives and NGOs work together on a loose but nevertheless results-oriented basis. These networks combine the moral vigour of the civil organizations with the material resources and the interests of commerce and the rule-making power of states and their international organizations. They also bring together the totally different "cultures" of the three spheres. The resulting synergies enable public policy networks to respond more effectively to new problems. They can break up in an innovative way the cognitive blockades which have become entrenched in organizational cultures. Because they take a result-oriented and not a principle-oriented approach, they can set in motion a constructive search for solutions despite the contradictory interests of the partners. And – precisely because they give consideration to such diverse interests – they can ensure that the compromises negotiated meet with wide acceptance. Global public policy networks serve (a) to place new issues on the "global agenda", (b) to liberate the negotiation of global rules and standards from entrenched opposites and to advance the process, (c) to gather and disseminate solution-relevant knowledge, (d) to create markets for problem-solving products, (e) to implement official international decisions in an innovative manner, and (f) to create co-operation-enhancing confidence between what were previously rather antagonistic parties. Public policy networks derive from new problem situations, but they need active cultivation and nurturing. Their success depends on competent management and often on a high degree of personal commitment from individual "network entrepreneurs". It is also important to offset result-oriented efficiency against acceptance-oriented commitment from all parties. Public policy networks certainly do not replace the traditional political authorities and their international organizations. Rather, they enable them to do their job more effectively.



© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | net edition gerda.axer-daemmer | 4/2000