Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik

Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik

Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik

Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik

Synopsis

For most of the twentieth century, the most critical concerns of national security have been balance of power politics and the global arms race. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the motives behind them, however, demand a radical break with this tradition. If the United States is to prevail in its long-term contest with extremist Islam, it will need to re-examine old assumptions, expand the scope of its thinking to include religion and other "irrational" factors, and be willing to depart from past practice. A purely military response in reaction to such attacks will simply not suffice. What will be required is a long-term strategy of cultural engagement, backed by a deeper understanding of how others view the world and what is important to them. In non-Western cultures, religion is a primary motivation for political actions. Historically dismissed by Western policymakers as a divisive influence, religion in fact has significant potential for overcoming the obstacles that lead to paralysis and stalemate. The incorporation of religion as part of the solution to such problems is as simple as it is profound. It is long overdue. This book looks at five intractable conflicts and explores the possibility of drawing on religion as a force for peace. It builds upon the insights of Religion, the Missing Dimension of Statecraft (OUP,1994)--which examined the role that religious or spiritual factors can play in preventing or resolving conflict--while achieving social change based on justice and reconciliation. The world-class authors writing in this volume suggest how the peacemaking tenets of five major world religions can be strategically applied in ongoing conflicts in which those religions are involved. Finally, the commonalities and differences between these religions are examined with an eye toward further applications in peacemaking and conflict resolution.

Excerpt

When one thinks of religion's role in world history, violent confrontation is usually one of the first images to emerge. History is replete with illustrations of the divisive role that religion has played, as is today's contemporary world. In the numerous conflicts of identity that are currently raging in such places as the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, one invariably finds a religious dimension. While religion is clearly central to so much of the strife that is taking place, it is also being looked at as an instrument of peace. The contribution of this book is that it sees religion not as something to overcome or ignore, but as an important part of conflict resolution and the promotion of peace.

In the following pages, Dr. Douglas Johnston and his team of eminent scholars examine how the peacemaking tenets of key religions can be brought to bear in five ongoing conflicts around the world. This effort represents an important step in acknowledging religion as a defining element in international security and in recognizing the largely untapped potential of a new form of diplomacy characterized by the authors as “faith-based diplomacy. ” Faith-based diplomacy speaks to the heart, mind, and spirit of the combatants—to those things that they hold most dear—not simply to the intellectual or material issues that dominate the practice of realpolitik. In so doing, it provides a transcendent capability that, under the right circumstances, can resolve differences where all else has failed.

While the factors addressed by traditional methods of diplomacy and statecraft are important, they are often insufficient in and of themselves to ensure peace on a lasting basis. They tend to underestimate the underlying grievances of the disputants, as has typically happened in the Middle East peace negotiations. Time and again, agreements like those hammered out at Camp David, Oslo, and Sharm al-Shiek have had many believing, or at least . . .

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