- Albert Einstein
Negative Third Party Effects
Director of the Education Program at the United States Institute of Peace
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Q: Last question and then I will let you go. I just wondered if you could give me more examples of conflicts where the third party actually contributes to it's protractedness rather it's resolution because that is sort of proactive and not quite as explored as what third parties can do to solve a conflict.
A: Right. An example, which is not an American example. Let me give you an example of the role that we as third parties have played in some conflicts that have made them go on and on and on. Cyprus is one, because of the way Cyprus in a way was, the fighting stopped in Cyprus; it was frozen. But there wasn't enough, no one put in that energy to resolve a conflict. It was very difficult to resolve and particularly for the NATO countries where you had two allies taking the sides of the two different parties. So it was a very, very difficult one and as long as the fighting wasn't going on and people weren't killing each other, more or less the international community was satisfied to let it stay there. And that is not to say that there hasn't been tremendous amounts of efforts to solve it over the years. But you know frankly you can see that if the same kind of effort was put into the Cyprus as has been put into the Middle East they would have solution. So there are times for reasons of it's own a third party or the international community would rather deal with a frozen conflict than with a resolved conflict. North-South Korea may be another example. Now there is a lot of movement, but I am talking about before, it was frozen you know along that DMZ for a very, very long time.
A non-American example of a third-party that came in and got caught in the conflict and then left is India's role in Sri Lanka. India became involved partly because they, in India you have a whole large Tamil population and there was some feeling, some pressure on the Indian government from this population to do something about this conflict in Sri Lanka. So they came in partly as outsiders and signed an agreement with the Sri Lankan government which at that point it wasn't clear, because the agreement was between India and Sri Lanka, not between the warring parties, but India I suppose saw itself in some ways as a guarantor of Tamil rights inside of Sri Lanka. So they signed an agreement with the Sri Lankan government and as part of that agreement they sent peacekeeping troops into Sri Lanka and the peacekeeping troops became targets of attack. And in fact, they were harassed and they got into fights and in fact they started more or less acting like real troops, not peacekeeping troops. And of course then there was Gandhi's assassination, which was interpreted in India as a direct result of it's intervention in Sri Lanka and so that pressure to stay in there turned into pressure to pull out and India pulled out practically the next day and didn't come back. In the mean time it left behind a very inflamed situation. Who knows what the motivations for India, I think they were very complex to go into this but it was very clear that their intervention partly on the side of peace, helped to prolong that conflict in Sri Lanka. Now it is a little bit unfair to pick on that one because it is complex and it is as I said it is non-American so one would want to highlight some of the roles the US government had played. You can look at the cold war, you know, we have prolonged a lot of conflicts as part of our foreign policy. So did the Soviet Union. So you know there are examples of these.