The CSS Blog Network

Fund Peace, not War

Tunnel, courtesy of twicepix/flickr

Tunnel, courtesy of twicepix/flickr

Back in the days when I was practising for my driving test came the moment to overcome my first tunnel. There are lots of these in Switzerland, and they tend to be rather long… My teacher warned: “Don’t look at the wall, or you’ll crash right into it; focus on the middle of the lane instead”.

Indeed, one of our many cognitive biases is to focus too much on immediate dangers, while losing sight of the way out.

The US Congress was contemplating the wall and forgot about the lane when it voted to cut all of the funding for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on 17 February.

If you aren’t familiar with USIP yet, I recommend you take a look at their excellent publications series, or at this praise of their field work by Anthony C Zinni, a former commander in chief of the United States Central Command.

Meanwhile, a wave of support for USIP’s work has spread in the hope of persuading the Senate to vote otherwise. Two senior staff members argue here that it makes a lot of economic sense to invest in peace and conflict prevention rather than pay for the wars these efforts contribute to avoid. As Anthony Zinni puts it, “the institute’s entire budget [$43 million] would not pay for the Afghan war for three hours“.

Last autumn, a study by Media Tenor and the Institute for Economics and Peace measured peace reporting in international media. Their detailed case study of Afghanistan demonstrates that media coverage has been focusing on defence and crime, while neglecting news of progress in critical areas needed to build lasting peace.

Lack of visibility is a real problem when it comes to persuading busy non-experts to give you money. On the face of it, “I trained 20 people in negotiation skills this month” doesn’t sound quite as decisive for national security as “I killed an insurgent today”.

Building peace is not spectacular. It’s slow and a lot hard unrewarding work. But it’s still the most efficient way out of the tunnel. Good luck and a lot of courage to our colleagues at USIP!

ISN Quiz: Armed Non-State Actors

Test your knowledge of the ANSA ABC, the focus of our Special Report this week.

[QUIZZIN 7]

ISN Weekly Theme: The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Peres Center for Peace Soccer Game, with Israeli and Palestinian coaches / photo: WrenB, flickr

Peres Center for Peace soccer game, Israeli and Palestinian coaches / photo: WrenB, flickr

It’s one of the oldest and most controversial conflicts in history: The Israeli-Palestine Conflict. We’re dedicating this week to examining the issue, presenting views from all sides.

The ISN at this year’s Global Media Forum

Global Media Forum Banner

Bonn is hosting the second Global Media Forum (GMF), 3-5 June, organized by Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

The forum addresses conflict prevention in the multimedia age, with the main topics including media freedom, media in Africa and the challenges posed by new technologies.

Read all about it, as the Deutsche Welle has recently launched the GMF blog. The conference organizers are also on Twitter @DW_GMF. Photo material will be available on the Deutsche Welle Flickr page.

As for us, we will be at the GMF in Bonn this year. Stay tuned for our liveblogging from the GMF and for our conference daily tweets (@cviehmann on Twitter).

Page 6 of 6