Received Histories of Wars and Peace in the Time of Globalization

“Received Histories of Wars and Peace in the Time of Globalization” 

Presented by: Dr. Ranabir Samaddar

Director, Peace Studies Programme

South Asian Forum For Human Rights, Kathmandu


          I make an advanced apology. In this essay I place the question of our historical consciousness squarely at the heart of our cultural self. From the second half of the last century that still continues, our sensibilities and sensitivities were determined by issues of war and peace, of survival, for it followed the Second World War, unimaginable mass murders, destruction and the atomic holocaust. Moreover, our sensitivities were being shaped in conditions of globalisation where global narratives of war and peace influenced our being- in short the history of the consciousness of present self. This essay on conditions of war and peace in the time of globalization is therefore an essay on our historical being also. I speak here of the received histories of peace, I show how our concerns about war and peace are conditioned by their histories of the same. In the process I try to show how the metaphor of civilization brought on from both sides, malevolent and benevolent, Samuel Huntington and UNESCO, is one more element in this received history of clash, war, and peace- one more product of this age of globalisation. Whom the late historian Eric Wolf called people without history, are the new subjects of a post restoration global order. Therefore is the question, with which the essay ends, what does the present time mean in the context of a globalisation of anonymity, statelessness, of “un-homing”, of the loss of civility on which civilization depends, and the new weapons of control and subjugation? In the last ten years people have talked too much of global economics, for once let us talk of the historical consciousness of globalisation, in the process of globalisation of the consciousness of our history of life and death.


            In 1985, impressed by the elements of stability in the post-war international system the historian of cold war John Lewis Gaddis called the post-war period as one of “long-peace”. In an interesting essay he argued that though the peacemakers fell out among themselves immediately after the war and built up the most unprecendent stock of weapons to destroy or at least keep each other in check, there was no war  among them. There was no world war. Without a formal peace treaty, peace had survived. And even though small wars, hunger, pestilence, deprivation and domination remained and continued to characterize the world, there was no war like the second or the first great wars. Even though nothing survived of the wartime consultations between the great powers they had held back their guns. The post war settlement survived “twice as long as the far more carefully designed World War I settlement, has approximately equalled in longevity the great 19th century international systems of Metternich and Bismarck, and unlike those earlier systems after four decades of existence shows no perceptible signs of disintegration. It is, or, ought to be enough to make one think”(1).

            Gaddis of course did not leave it to readers to think. With a flourish he concluded the essay with these words:

            “The cold War, with all of its rivalries, anxieties and unquestionable dangers, has produced the longest period of stability in relations among great powers that the world has known in this century; it now compares favorably as well with some of the longest periods of great power stability in all of modern history. We may argue among ourselves as to whether or not we can legitimately call this “peace”: it is not, I dare say, what most of us have in mind when we use that term. But I am not at all certain that the contemporaries of Metterich and Bismarck would have regarded their eras as “peaceful” either, even though historians looking back on those eras today clearly do.

            What is to say therefore, how the historians a century from now-- if there are any left by then-- will look back on us? Is it not at least plausible that they will see our era, not as “the Cold War” at all, but like those ages of Metternich and Bismarck, as a rare and fondly remembered “Long Peace”? Wishful thinking? Speculation through a rose-tinted word processor? Perhaps. But would it not behove us to give at least as much attention to the question of how this might happen- to the elements in the contemporary international system that might make it happen-- as we do to the fear that it may not?(2)

            This was clearly an argument in the Hobbesean terms which would say that everybody’s war against everybody else (that is, a condition of total war) would maintain peace as everybody would realize that everybody’s war against everybody would destroy everybody. Evidently written in an age of Thatcherite belief in “deterrence as peace”, detente and SALT talks, when it was held that mutual acknowledgment of respective strengths and influences held the key to peace and working relationship, an age hardly  fifteen years old and already seems so distant, “cold war” in arguments like this transformed into “long peace”. Yet there will be no dearth of historians in another ten years who will tell us that peace visits us with the end of cold war. Winston Churchill had said that peace had returned in Europe with the end of what he called the “second thirty years war.” It seems we are destined to be juggled between “war” and “peace” not only in a time frame but in a single incident frame also. All that we shall need is to use these two terms intermittently, interchangeably, depending on our past, the pasts we define for ourselves to start from.

            But what happens to those for whom there is no world history, therefore no vantage tower of looking from the world point of view? Those who are ravaged by wars like Biafra, Gulf, Vietnam? Those who remain “local”, bound by the geopolitics of remaining on the “rim”,  constantly engaged in fending off the “insurgency cross-fires”? It seems world history will have left out these peoples and regions, for their wars did not feature in a world conflagration, latest weapons were not used, international interventionist armies were not dispatched, axis, alliances, dual and triple ententes were not formed, and the “virtual transparency” in international diplomacy ruled out intrigues and made humanity return to the barbaric wars of the old ages(3). Are we then to conclude that “long peace” is made of “short wars”, a reformulation of the Clausewitz’s argument that peace is the condition of war? The end of cold war has made a paradigm shift, which everyone accepts. The point is, if we cannot hold on anymore to a “balance mechanism dominated world system” as the explanatory device for today’s wars and peace (s), what we are to fall back on?

            The short wars of the last fifty years and particularly after 1989- the year of restoration- have been gory, but more important have had world consequences. Yet the historiography, in world historical terms, of the hot wars in “a period of cold war”, that is the period of “long peace”, itself does not attach much importance to these short wars, not because these wars did not cause huge losses of life and resources, but these are thought to have had little consequences in terms of pattern of domination, great power rivalry, arms build up, arms control negotiations, and alliance patterns. If any, these seem to have reinforced them. Therefore, these are only footnotes to the script written in the mainland of post war history where balance of power and systemic compulsions held peace, howsoever precariously. Little wars thus are to be represented in another image and it is not surprising that they are represented in a mirror of a great war. They have to be represented in world history in mirror of a great/long peace. Or, these wars have to be combined in terms of a single discourse that will present them as a single war-against barbarity, lawlessness, for humanitarian restoration, war by the civilized against the uncivilized.

            Take the example of the Vietnam War. The loss of lives and resources, the use of chemical weapons, the new methods of aerial warfare are by now well documented and evoke little discussion (except for some needs for atonement or the need to exorcise the ghost of defeat once and for all), for Vietnam war is today acknowledged above all one of a scenario of killing fields. It is also acknowledged that it was one of the greatest national liberation wars, comparable with the liberation of China only, and it brought the age of decolocnization and national liberation wars to a close. But in terms of world history, i.e., in terms of the world pattern of competition and collaboration, rise and decline of powers, the Vietnam war is not given much importance, perhaps justifiably so. For, it is a myth that wars and victories by themselves empower a country. How war is executed, how it is sustained, how weaponry is deployed and used, how peace is made, how the strength behind all these is perceived, and above all how war and peace change relations between countries, become crucial for the great power status that is ascribed to a country after a war. Seen in that light, the Vietnam War changed little. It didn’t create a system nor did it undo anything, it did not reduce anyone’s status, nor could it enhance anyone’s, in fact it did not affect the defeated country in terms of power , which it should have had logically, and thus the war remained “local” despite the measured colossal losses. Our history of war remains caught  in their history of peace, their history of war traps our history of “event-less-ness”. The old war ended not with any peace treaty reviving the wartime arrangements between allies but with the collapse of one of the adversaries. The greatest defeat in a war in the post-45 era did not at all affect the losing power in a world perspective. Rather the party which was on the victorious side in the Vietnam war crashed out within 15 years of that famous victory. The compulsions of representation thus make a mockery of events. They are nothing, so long they are not of this “world”, so long they do not make “world-history”.

            How does one escape the compulsions of representation? Before reaching a tentative answer we can make a contrasting references to the Gulf war. The Gulf war was a short war. It was not one of attrition, it showed how modern weaponry could be swiftly mobilized, deployed and used to telling effect. It quickly ended the battle cries of one of the parties who had promised a “mother of all battles”, and a “thousand year war”. Yet world history judges the Gulf war more significant because it enhanced the world status of one party. It ushered in the so-called revolution in military affairs (RMA). War and peace in the Gulf assumes significance much beyond the implications of the same in that area. They symbolized rise of a new concert of powers locked in a holy alliance against any adventure, the emergence of a “new South” engaged  in a partnership with the “new North”- a development which ensured the neutrality of everyone who would have mattered in the war so that a carefully constructed system of peace treaties in the region intended to bury the hatchet is not unsettled- all these have made the dimension of power in the Gulf war and peace immensely significant much beyond the off cited factor of oil. Thus, both war and peace are judged by power and are represented in the scale of world history, the only privileged discursive field to have a measure of power.

            Power is measured in terms of influence. International relations theory has no hesitation in admitting that. But it does a quick trick on us when it tries to naturalize this by eschewing a genealogical exercise, as if “spheres of influence” are natural as biosphere’s. Thus the closed circle of logic runs: if in the post-war era there has been no “war”it is because spheres of influence worked well; if there were no “war” showed that all countries were under one sphere or another; and if there were “wars”, that fact showed how spheres of influence were a reality of life . The law of naturalization works everywhere  the same way. It works by avoiding a genealogical exercise.

            This history is obviously unfair. First, it includes the nations not privileged to be world-actors in world history and politics (after they have been included), is shown as evidence that there are privileged actors in the world whose acts influence others and force these “others” to be drawn in the vortex of world history. A limited history of the emergence of spheres of influence in the Atlantic world and partly in the Pacific world is universalized and a provincial history takes on a global form. The history of the nations and countries, which have their specific dynamics of both war and peace, quite separate from the discourse of the “Atlantic world” and the “great Eurasian landmass” is colonized in a history that in reality is equally specific. It is specific to the clash of spheres of influence between the Atlantic powers and a power belonging to the Eurasian landmass. This is certainly a problem of historiography of the post-war world, but also a problem of rescuing the capacity of the nations not privileged to be world actors to make ironically their own wars and their own peace. Indeed the first problem, that is the problem related to historiography, generates the second one. If it is argued that “for every thousand pages published on the causes of war there is less than one page on the causes of peace”

(4),  the problem that bounces back at us is: is it possible for the received discipline of history (particularly in its form as world history) which tends to assume a meta-form to unearth the history of peace? For, in such history, little peace(s) are bound to remain covered under the discourse of “grand peace”. The problem of disproportion from which studies of the history of peace suffer has therefore a deeper root. Power, influence,

spheres, and area- the elements that make world history and create hierarchies in the grand format remains only as the other(ised) self of this “world”. Yet it is obligatory to show how wars in the post-war era have had their own characteristics to such an acute degree that they cannot be subsumed under the success-story of the long peace. It will be of significance if we realize in that respect, how cold war was often an over-privilege category in determing the way we looked at the world and how the demise of the cold war has brought the world back to “normalcy”, where war and peace maintain their conditional character, that is, their specificaties.

            The age of Metternich age was shattered by the wars of 1848. Indeed historian Eric Hobsbawn places that  age as the age of revolution, and the year of 1848 as the year when the age of revolution ended, and not the age of peace. The world of Bismarck world, suitably an age of restoration and again not an age of peace, ended with the war that began in 1913. The post-war world from 1945 continuously experienced wars amidst long peace, and if we are to go by the estimate of the University of Michigan’s “correlates of war” project, of the 200 and odd wars at least 96 are notable as violent civil, interstate, and extra systemic conflicts(5). The wars in the Gulf, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Algeria, and Bosnia and Kosovo in particular, have drawn the cold war/long peace to a close in a bizarre way. Going by the main argument of the cold war/long peace discourse, the end of “long peace/ cold war” in 1989-91  should have brought back wars, whereas this history of the cold war in the same breath would have us believe that victory in the cold war  was achieved with the capitulation of one. The fact remains that  the so-called world actors have only a limited ability to control these wars, they can at best restrain the parties sometimes and wars occur not always due to the, but in spite of them in as much peace prevails not always owing to them but notwithstanding them.

            But let us go back to the question of specific wars. The turmoil in Eastern Europe towards the end of the second war and in the immediate aftermath was certainly linked to the issue of sphere of influence, but not a product of that. In country after country like Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the old imperial power that knew the region most intimately was found too weak to intervene, which it would have surely done had it the required strength. In colonies like India the final surge  of the nation  freedom movement had started. The collapse of Britain and France, and Britain in particular, signaled the decline of the old imperial tradition and the beginning of de-colonization. The theatre was indeed the widest- from borders of Oder-Niesse to the delta of Irabati, Mekong, and Yangtze. And it has taken  almost the same period as the long peace to complete-- a process as fundamental as the emergence of super powers, appearance of nuclear weaponry, formation of blocs, and spheres of influence. It is not that the second process did not have effect on the first. Suffice it to mention that the very process of state formation in these “new area” in world politics was shaped in a substantive way by the great power strategy of partition to realize spheres of influence. Thus Germany was partitioned, so was Korea, then Vietnam; India, Yemen, Palestine, Cyprus- all these lands were subjected to partition by the great powers. Radha Kumar’s researches on Bosnia have shown how partition has been for quite some time a managerial strategy of stabilizing a situation that seemingly is totally out of control, and in the process becomes the usher  of a new round of instability(6). The extent to which the states formed in these areas in the post-war period have been influenced by that mode of origin has not been historically measured and appreciated yet, not even in the case of Germany(7).  In short, even though the end of the second war has a justified centralizing narrative, here too we have several histories of war, end of the war, and then peace. Indeed, whereas in some cases the actors of the war went by the supposedly discarded Wilsonism, like resetting an international organization, following a policy of national self-determination and proclaiming a liberal world order, in other respects the actors were found to have proceeded not much beyond the nineteenth century concepts of balance of power, a committee of world policemen, and a series of alliances. In the most vital aspect of “who controls Europe? Europe behaved in an unprecedented manner. It not only  welcomed the Marshall Plan, so compromised was it with threats of revolutions and the awareness of its own inability to maintain the earlier power and influence that it begged America to stay over, in the process reviving the nineteenth century notion of balance of power even by partitioning the continent. The history of cold war thus has within it many histories, some imprisoned in the past some certainly characteristic of the new age(8).

            In the same way the post-war wars have also their specific histories. First, partitions brought in its wake wars, some still continuing. The Kashmir war was fought three times between India and Pakistan. The dispute remains unsolved. Wars in Congo, Palestine, Lebanon, the Horn of Africa, Bosnia, are other instances. Second, low-key wars as form of diplomacy are very much the way in regions where state formation could not solve the nationality question. Third, republicanism wherever on ascendancy has sparked off wars. The unending rounds of war in Afghanistan are an evidence of the effects of that “forced march of history”. Fourth, borders in parts of the globe have not only occasioned great games, but some major

wars also as the war between China and Vietnam. Fifth, arms sale builds up the arsenal and the “baroque arsenal” itself becomes a temptation to be used and tested. Sixth, there are covert wars fought by outside powers with mercenaries and also by trained émigrés as in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, Angola, Laos, Burma and elsewhere. Seventh, the classic peasants revolutionary wars have also been a constant feature in the post-war world, though such wars are on decline. And finally the world witnesses the wars of self-determination in scattered places like Sri Lanka, Kurd region, Burma or Kashmir. It is instructive to remember that in most cases these types are not pure in reality. Ethnicity, border, partition, arms sale and a variety of other factors combine to produce wars.

            Ironically with globalisation as political policing weakens, wars become scattered. The Policeman who are left to do the duty are often tired; war fatigue overwhelms them(9).  A curious combination of isolationism and the lingering desire for world role marks the great powers at this time. Only new political arrangements can take away some of their burdens. But that means first the post-war process has to exhaust itself. The long peace was the first half of that process. The scattered wars and peace(s) mark the second one. In this era therefore we shall see more security doctrines, more efforts to erect a system that can control the scattered wars and peace(s) while avoiding deployment commitments-security doctrines markedly different from that of the cold war/long peace years.


            Restoration in all ages is supposed to have brought peace. In some instances this peace creates conditions of new wars, in others it strengthens its own conditions and democracy. The point is: after the restoration of 1989 where do we stand?

A comparison with events of the past in discussing the possibilities of peace in the post-restoration periods maybe gainful. The Napoleonic wars were concluded by the restoration of order, which was so suffocating that it needed a series of revolts for fresh winds to blow in Europe to certain extent. On the other hand, the Bismarckean order unwittingly allowed the labour movement and democratic characters to develop in Europe. The restoration of some old style regimes in East Europe after the war in 1945 was absurd and they quickly collapsed. There was effort to restore order in China after 1945. American intervention in support of restoration could not prevent the overthrow of the ancient regime; the revolutionary was succeeded. A new order emerged. It quickly attained stability having gained people’s confidence. In Burma old order was restored and peace has not returned to that country since then. In the entire East Asian and the Pacific Rim, the Atlantic world led by the United States buttressed its position after  1945 by constructing a defence perimeter around China. Corrupt regimes were held up. Wars therefore raged in that region for a long time. The US troops did not withdraw from the Korean peninsula, from the Philippines, from Okinawa in Japan, British troops stayed in Malay, French troops in Indo-China.

            Today we have a similar scattered picture before us. In the Balkans, the old order cannot come back; with NATO troops order is sought to be restored, but we do not know whether the experiment of setting up a state as part of restoring order and peace will be successful and whether without a state restoration peace restoration will be complete. Similarly in Somalia, Palestine, El Salvador, Algeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Rwanda, Congo, Afghanistan, Combodia, and in some more countries- restoration of the old; that is ruled out by the “state of the state” itself; the state is ravaged by attrition, militarism, fratricide, corruption, elite gangsters and downright destruction by an occupant army-either by any of these factors or by all these combined. In those countries, introduction of a constitution and the erection of a state structure has become an essential part of the task of restoration. In 1848 declarations of constitutions signaled the challenge to the restored order; in 1919 order was restored on the basis of a liberal vision of a world and a new phase of constitutionalism- but this vision was so weak that forces of aggression, militarism, and fanatic anti-communism went a head to revise the settlement within ten years of it. In 1945 the liberal order could be restored at the heart of the Atlantic world only at the  cost of partition, and the colonized world was invited to participate in that order through such grotesque form of de-colonization that the de-colonized nations still reel under its impact.

            The task of peace restoration thus has landed into the deep, the heart of the question itself. The question of war and peace lies in the secret origins of the formation of state- shrouded in mystery, deep in slumber. Everyone talked of the states-systems prevailing in the world or in parts thereof. They talked of treaties, strategies, alliances, diplomacies, and policies. State-system was to be strengthened, or reformed, or maintained, or changed. But what when the state itself becomes unsustainble? When state incessantly occasions war and is then eaten up by it? When peace is actualized even at the state level by private initiatives, i.e., by true public initiatives? When the history of the state becomes inadequate in chronicling the history of peace initiatives, of dialogues? When the task of restoring peace becomes inseparable from that of changing the state in order to restore it? It is then that we understand how this module of state handed down by a global history that is world history, has become so unworkable. We shall be able to see-through the mysteries of war and peace- mysteries that succeed in making a period of the breakdown of the state appear as a period of long peac(10).

            It should not therefore possibly cause much surprise that the triumphal literature of late eighties and nineties characterized by that mood of “globalism” does not fully reckon with the fact of the breakdown of the state in many parts of the globe. The crisis of the state as evidence in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Cambodia and other places still appears as more of a managerial problem. Peacekeeping, peace enforcing, peace stabilizing and “constitutional reinforcement of peace from outside” are considered part of an international  managerial strategy for salvaging the state. But there the problem is defined as stabilizing the state against forces of “ethnicity” which threaten and sometimes succeed in internationalizing an essentially local phenomenon. Therefore the international strategy is to quarantine the sickness, to closely monitor the situation, apply multilateral, multi-pronged therapy with various degrees of force, to cure the state of a problem which is seen as not intrinsic, but essentially one of internationalization of the local, the globalisation of fragmentation(11).

            Yet there remains a sense of unease in this whole scenario. The triumphal literature emerging in the aftermath of cold war has developed around two main themes. The first theme claims, that with the failure and collapse of the socialist system, there is no ideological rival to liberal capitalism, by implication of the liberal system, no other aspiration backed by any kind of popular legitimacy. The second theme sees in the decline and departure  of the parallel politics the emergence of a genuine world system whose last obstacles are in the process of being removed. States, particularly of the third world, cannot any more fantasize about national paths or national alternatives. Global economic institutions and international division of labor have finally made capitalism the site on which state is to be managed. Political programs and economic practice are to recognize the necessity that state management, liberal values and economic openness within a world capitalist system have to go comfortably hand in hand.

            The unease in this mood of triumph is reflected in the texture of the literature. Some say, that though the state is not under interrogation, the agenda of reconciling the state with the post-restoration world is hard and arduous. Some say that even in these sure times the state is severely threatened with massive migrations of population, ethnic extremities, hunger and pestilence in large parts of globe, unpredictably rouge behaviors, laxity of international laws, hordes of unemployed laborers, unruly currencies, and above all existence of a political class uneducated in the liberal doctrines of governance. Some say that globalization is threatened with clash of irreconcilable civilizations. Others finally point out that the global system, particularly the economic system, is itself unstable. The globe itself is not prepared for the massive forces of globalisation. This uneven texture revealing the fears, suspicions, and uncertainties marking the triumphal moment makes useful as if the world has re-entered the nineteenth century(12).

            Then too the states were not prepared for post-restoration world. Alliances, ententes, congresses, and treaties- all these marked the long century. The Metternichean age that seemed to Gaddisas the period of peace, we have already mentioned, appeared to others the “age of revolution”(13). By the time the states had been educated in the rules of a system, too much of imperatives and imponderables broke it up.  Then too, the unanticipated factor of globalsiation of expansive trends played havoc with the carefully constructed edifice of states-system so much so that the truly monumental agenda in the Versailles deliberations was achieving “national self-determination”, “home rule”, “setting borders”- the by now forgotten story of Wislonianism(14).

            The third world as a problem has reared its head again; it is again a problem for the successful completion of the Westphalian project of creating  a global order and maintaining peace. Drawn in the vortex of several global events and developments like de-colonization, partitions, citizenship laws, emergence of monitions, ecological destruction’s, hardening of borders, immigration realities, and most important a geographical widening of capital and labor market, the career of the state in the third world today symbolizes the intractability of the problem of race, ethnicity, citizenship and alien-ness. States are crashing out of existence or becoming shadows of past. States had to be formed de novo after 1919, after 1945. In today’s moment of triumph the same imperative has raised its head. Coming out of the sedate chambers of social anthropologists the subject of state-formation has become the issue of world politics today(15).


            But while global political managers are busy with restoring the state, what happens to those who have lost the state in this “dangerous liaison” between globalisation and national power? What about those who will have no history in their non-state life? I speak of the crucial question that the phenomenon of immigration poses today in international politics.

            There was a time when for its own formation a state required a subject population. However it was the territory, which more or less marked out this subject population(16).  Not so today. States required defining who are the citizens and by implication or by explicit formulation who is an alien. The category of immigration functions as a political marker of these two definitions. The sociological implication of this signification is immense. A fictive ethnic core, a differential modus operandi of statehood (that separates a state from others, separates its core from the periphery in its internal structure and defines its citizens as different from other groups) and the representation of hatred needed for the state to function- all these pertain to the fact that from a biological theory of subject population we have arrived at a sociological theory of the same with the consequence that a state can explicitly claim today the fact or need for sitting itself in a “particular culture”. Immigration in this way is not only an issue of labour ecomonic but of the politics of the current time when state and nation have become almost un-differentiable, when the subject and the citizen have become almost synonymous, and the ideology of the state has in effect made a return to antiquity. In the era of state enterprises the old centuries when the cultural basis of some solidarity was taken as natural are perhaps on us. All this has immense consequences on the conflict pattern in the world today and the capacity of the international order to tackle the conflict.

            We can again look back to the lessons of history. Europe took nearly two centuries for its states to find their cultural basis. The Jewish question was finally solved only with extermination, their emigration, and the formation of a Jewish state. Still after the war when the states were to be erected anew, Christianity had to be repeatedly invoked for the stabilizing the states-system(17).  With immigration of Turkish, Arab, and Bosnian workers into the West European countries, we find Europe reaffirming its “historic cultural basis”. Islam , Slavism, orthodoxy- these are the invasions against which states in Europe have raised guards. This situation confirms the “presence of the past”(18). We have here the reworking of the problematic of state-formation in a situation where the past story of the state refuses to vanish away like the ghost that hovers over the site that has witnessed repeated construction after periodic demolitions. That is why the question of state-formation, statelessness and prevention of conflicts has become irreducibly political. The project of nationalization of a society for imparting stability to the state is not complete if aliens are not marked out.

            The irony is clear, clearer when we remember the circumstances of South Asia. The post-colonial nation form was to be the ultimate form of political institution. For the realization of this form, the process of constitution and development of  nation form required the production of non-state people from time to time. Thus the entire process of decolonisation including partitions, wars, and the deliberate acts of enforcing territoriality produced non-state persons in a country, and also in the states within it. But this process of production is so violent that it gives rise to anxiety, is this form going to be the ultimate form? Will not the massive flows of population give rise to other structures that rupture the fusion of the state and the nation? Indeed we find that the influx of people makes the process of nationalization ever delayed, ever incomplete, for every community produced by the process of state making is substantially imaginary, and therefore there always remains the possibility of newer communities being created out of the national process of ethnicisation.

            The South Asian region was decolonised through the strategy of partition. As a key element in state-formation, partition however has not been unique to the sub-continent. Rwanda, Ethiopia, korea, Cyprus, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, and many other countries have been either partitioned, or virtually partitioned, or have been on the verge of partition as a part of the post war settlement, new state-formation and the creation of a new states-system. These in any case remain historically inadequately studied in their significance in terms of “globalisation and fragmentaion”(19). Crucial in such significance is the generation, through such process, of the continuing waves of migrants and refugees and their impact on state-formation and subsequent state-development. The emergence of modern India was through one of the biggest population transfers in human history. Between 1946 and 1951, nearly 9 million Hindus and Sikhs came to India and about 6 million Muslims went over to Pakistan. Of the said 9 million, 5 million came from what became West Pakistan and 4 million came from East Pakistan. Immigration into India, particularly eastern and northeast India has continued under the shadow of the exodus/influx of that time with of course new patterns but with very substantive continuities also(20). Its impact on the state and politics at regional, national, and local levels, in terms of institutionalized and non-institutionalized domains, has been critical but again unfortunately inadequately studied. Though we have by now studies on the northeast, we are yet to generalize them as element of state-formation in South Asia. Think of the impact of the non-state persons such as the Chakmas in Arunachal and Mizram on the politics of these states, the Bangladesh aliens in Assam, the Sri Lankan Tamils in Tami Nadu, Biharis in Bangladesh, the Bhutanese of Nepali origin in Nepal, the Afghans in Pakistan and Tajikstan, or the Bangladesh in Karachi, Lahore and other parts of the Sind and Punjab(21). The impact of the exodus and also the entry of various groups of people from and in Burma have been similarly acute in terms of the Burmese state and also the politics of South-east Asia(22).  These are all potential and actual issues of violent conflicts in the region.

            War, struggle for national identity, ethnicisation, all these have created in this region as elsewhere a “virtual partition” situation. Yet in a sense these are not exactly new in history. Ethnographic and anthropological studies have documented how population movement was a crucial factor in state-formation in past pages, linked as it was with kin-linkages. What lends newness to the situation is the backdrop of citizenship against which alien-ness is defined, immigration is characterized, policies on “near abroad” are formulated, the nation is periodically defined and announced, and the hierarchy internal to the subject population formulated. In this situation the old differences between jus soli (right of soil) and jus sanguinis (right of blood) do not mean much for both are equally operational in marking off the non-state persons and in fencing the (territorial) state. Non-state persons are non-citizens, often non-nationals, often they are unwanted where they are born and stay and also where they may be pushed back/forward. Citizen is an essential attribute of the state not only for defining the subject population, but also for defining the other end of a transactional relation whose one end is the state. That is why today the “citizen” is often taken as the “national”, for state and nation  as different entities do not signify much( 23), though at one time state had tried to adopt non-national forms. Religion, language, “tribe”, and territory- all these define minorities, and as such they define a particular category of citizenship and relate to the general problem of the national acceptance of the reality of immigration. Frankly speaking, in this respect the experiences of Europe and South Asia are not much different(24). If we take into account the experiences of Germany, Italy as moderate examples and Yugoslavia or the Caucasian states as rabid examples, the whole issue is not purely a “third world” issue... the “revenge of the nations” is visiting the states wide across the globe(25). Hatred, violence, an exclusioninst legal system of beneficiaries, a system of identifying the potential disruptors or groups of disruptors of statehood-each of these is required for the formation of a state. Seen in this light, the category of nonstate persons shows that state-formation is not a one-time affair; it is an exercise is perpetuity in as much as state legitimating remains a permanent plebiscite(26).

            Migration is admittedly as old as human history, but as suggested earlier, international migration even of several decades and sometimes one or two centuries before creates implications for the revisionist strategy of the state and thus begins to exercise acute impact on the inter-state and international agenda. Thus Indians in Fiji or Uganda, Chinese in south east Asia, Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka, Armenians in Ajarbijan, Turks in Germany, Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, and elsewhere in West Asia, are the classic non-state groups who pose a problem because they are perceived as a threat to the sovereignty to the state, for they are the minority, they are the perpetual reminder of the fictive ethnicity of the state. Involuntary migrations consequent to a natural disasters, civil wars, political persecutions, repression on minorities, total economic breakdowns involve millions of people. They are the subjects of “new slavery”. International system requires them, but is yet to devise a system of managing them. The international system needs migrant labor, invading armies of émigrés (Cuban émigrés in the USA or the Afghan mojahids in Peshawar), and sex-slaves. The hordes of involuntary migrants mix with streams of voluntary migrants. A widened information network, mobility of capital, the oil powered economic boom, a re-division of global labor, proliferation of small arms and of other methods of low key insurgency, the growth in world population, the historical “revenge of the nation” in the ethnic form- all these make immigration an important item in the agenda.Thus the state has become of pressing concern in the list of global anxieties.

            We all know that globalisation in its first true incarnation that is colonialism, was the first impetus to migration. About 30 million people had arrived between 1861 and 1920 in the United States, a country of immigrants already responsible for the displacement and extermination of the indigenous population. Europe saw huge intra-Europe migration to the Baltic, the black Sea and the Central lands. The period between the Potato Famines, the Programs creating the fleeing jew, the forced migration of an estimated 15 million slaves and the migration of indentured labour more widespread than slavery encompassing some 40 countries and involving 37 million people ending as late as 1941 is indeed a long one- a duration equal to that of colonialism. The political effects are only now being felt(27).  New patterns then emerged with changes in labour market and the general process of decolonisation. The West became so much terrified of immigration from countries of Asia, Southeast, Europe, Mediterranean and North Africa that immigration studies prospered. Yet the uncertainty in the international relations theory in its response to the complex realities of the post-restoration world ranging from the neo-Nazi movements in Europe and elsewhere, re-emergence of racism, collapse of the state system in large parts of the globe, to the crisis in international institutions such as the UN organizations or the peace-keeping forces, reveal its inadequacy as a form of knowledge, its anxious reaction to trends which had been long in human history but new in its significance in terms of politics- both of the state and the globe(28).

            International relations theory cannot satisfactorily answer three questions: first, do contemporary borders exist primarily to control movement of people? Second, are border controls effective in stopping the entry of aliens? Third, are these controls instruments of human rights abuses and injustices?  These issues remains outcaste to a disciplining long obsessed with great powers, great games, great outcomes and great destinies. This neglect has consequence in terms of political theory also. It is  a consequence in form an irony. Among the defining features of the liberal politics has been the graduation of the state from the bondage of kinship, the constitution of the subject in form of individual citizens, the evolution  of the state as one end of a transactional relation and the uncertain merger of two forms of power-- the centralised juridical power of the sovereign and the “capillary” form. Yet the current pattern conflicts show this graduation as highly suspect. The constitution of fictive ethnicity as the basis/core of the state, the configuration of minorities as immigrant communities, the invasions on territoriality which has been all long the prime attribute of modern state, show that the modern state may not be that modern; that while the state takes up the agenda of modernizing itself through nationalization, decentralization, citizenship laws, and above all accepting and negotiating globalization, the state in fact through such process is busy  in reinventing kinship(29).  A revisionist state thus ends up by seeking forms of the past. The moment of triumph characteristic of the age of restoration is in many ways a moment of admission of defeat. International relations at the end of the twentieth century featured by the globalisation of fragmentation therefore looks so similar to the relations in the nineteenth century. Possibly it never left that age.

            Yet we must not think that such a condition is suddenly on us. It has its own history. If the First World War showed how fragmented the world had been for the past hundred years, the Second War’s end brought no decisive change in that situation. The contradictory trends of globalisation and fragmentation were to prevent any resolution to the equilibrium-less world. In the beginning it seemed that individual states were being reconciled to the systemic world. Keynesianism, now limited in effects as individual (state) therapy, was supposed to be better as a global therapy. International economic order was growing and it was assumed that where Keynsianism would fail, monetarism would bring the rouge states to order. European imperial control would give away to a new charter of controls that would fine-tune the states- system. But the universalism of the Atlantic Charter had to domicile itself in America. Monetarism, Americanization, neo-imperial controls, and the fusion of Westernization and Americanisation defeated the universalism of Atlantic Charter. In short, within Atlanticism lay the seeds of its failure, the very universalism was giving birth to its opposite. The contradiction were elemental. The realities of globalsiation characteristic of the cold war era, namely, trans-national corporations, territorial segmentation of production, financial integration, structured choices between orders and ideologies, the preponderance of the nation-state, and the fusion of globalisation and Americanisation, were seemingly absolute. Yet, immigration, labour flow, the emergence of the self in world politics demanding the right to determine its future, ethnicity, appearance of new nations and new regions, global recessions, monetarism and outright plunder, have ruled out any lasting impact of cold war and of the way this “war” has ended. The “removal of the geopolitical constraints of the cold war” (30) removes the certainties of the preceding decades. It ushers in a regression to pre-existing times(31).


            But regression into pre-existing times, if that is what restoration is, is paradoxically one step in front also, for restoration in most of the time in recent history has been accompanied by globalisation and universalism. This has happened partly to justify the act of restoration. But besides the need for legitimacy, there has been always a spring-effect, that is to say, the restored power always needed to follow an expansive policy- a kind of “roll back” that Brezinsky advocated in late forties, a policy that betrayed a sense of insecurity, of not being confident of the world. The sense of insecurity increased as the insecurity of the restored power afflicted the restoring power also. Therefore, raw force, barbarity, loss of civility, single minded will to destroy the adversary- all these have marked the global expansion of the victorious powers of both varieties, restored and the restorer. The spread of barbarity, the absolute evaporation of the culture of trust and reconciliation, and the concentration of force to erase the adversary are the characteristics of the new global age. This is facilitated, as the object of that force is not the vanquished power, which has left the stage in any case, but the anonymous people, the subjects without history, who do not have any more the state to protect them, but who raise the specter of lawlessness. It is of that globalisation that no one speaks of, and I propose to discuss though briefly by way of concluding this essay.

            Michael Ignatieff in “Blood and Belonging” speaks of the almost semi-erotic gun culture of the checkpoints and contrasts it with the responsibility of guns in yester-times when violence reminded of the need to be responsible. You had the  means of violence, so you had to responsible for you could not use them indiscriminately( 32) But that responsibility was gone with each period of restoration when the victorious  power used violence indiscriminately, to show that the event of restoration was final. Thus the defeat of every anti-colonial uprising in China was followed by bloodbath. The Mutinyof 1857 in India the Boxer uprising in China, or the uprisings in Vietnam were drowned in the blood of genocide. Similarly, the victorious army after the Paris Commune in 1871, the state forces, hoodlums, and the gangsters in Indonesia in 1965-70, the fascists in Chile in 1974 -75, and Lebanese rightist forces and the Israeli army in Beirut in 1983- all pursued a policy of deliberate terror through indiscriminate use of violence. Then came chemical warfare, gas warfare, biological warfare, and above all the nuclear bomb dropped once on the civilians of the two defenseless cities, all these showed how spread of barbarity accompanied waves of globalisation. Hitler’s methods, initially considered as exceptional, quickly gained acceptance wide across the globe- from French methods in Algeria, British methods in Malay, American methods in Vietnam, and Serbian methods in Balkans to Pakistani method in East Pakistan, and the games of the warlods in sub-Saharan Africa. Several countries not mentioned here have been no better. The issue is why and how are globalisation and the spread of methods of genocide organically connected? It is here, it is well to remember, local and the global are truly linked in a “world history”.

            Spread of technology and the scientific community, diffusion of methods of coercion and of counter-insurgency, privatization and eventual breakdown of the state, and the sinister air of virtual reality, all have played their role in universalizing terror, mass murder, and in the manufacture of global silence over such genocides accompanied by selective protests(33).  Clearly we are witnessing the eclipse of a sense of responsibility. The demise of ideology, we often forgot, brings in the demise of the moral community also howsoever the presence of such moral community might have conveyed at some time a sense of freedom-less-ness. In this era of virtual reality characterized by a lack of territorial constraints and mass public pressure, concentration of attack has ushered in revolution in “military affairs”- sophisticated electronic and psychological warfare as shown in Kosovo- Which has not been lived up to its claims of targeted annihilation, but certainly successful to a significant extent in manufacturing global silence(34).  The “new wars” that we witness are products of globalisation, which they in turn advance. We can advance two theses here. First, the civil wars of mutual claims of recognition and determination have done away with every sense o responsibility, restoration of trust, and  a just reconciliation of claims. Precisely because old territorial forms of political living (territorial units such as a state, county, province,autonomous republics in a multi-national state, nation-state)) are considered irrelevant, that the grab is up for new forms of territory as a matter of life and death struggle in the politics of recognition and determination. In this sense, new wars do not signify banal geopolitics. Second, the new wars on the basis of the RMA cannot be fought without a political consensus (G 7, new north-new south, Christian, western, Atlantic), and the RMA thus provokes globalisation of confrontationist politics. It may not be preposterous to argue therefore that neutrality today is more difficult than it was in the days of cold war/long peace(35).

            In any case, the curious history of globalisation should not escape our eyes. Community, state, nation, region, civilization, and the globe, all have been dumped into the box that the current history of globalisation is. They may jostle for space. But that is fine with today’s global order. Similarly, the “internationalism of Gillette’s chairman” and the one “expounded by Tagore or Gandhi” both finds accommodation in this current history(36).  This history is producing regions at a furious pace that may work as containers of all these entities. Asia was never a whole to justify its name. It was either east or south or the near east or central or the rim named as Asia-Pacific(37).  Similarly, Europe has never been Europe- the two treaties of Locarno and Rapallo exemplified the agony of trying to make sense of the many Europes in one Europe, an agony that still continues(38).  It all depends on the gaze. The production of political regions to bring the disparate political entities into some order and tie them in a template has become global. In reading this curious history where a sudden expansion of finance market and mobility of capital, information and skill is invoked to assert the supremacy of the monetarist economics and the end of the age of political confrontation (with the possible exception of the clash between civilizations, but that is not a political clash, but a civilization-clash, so the argument would run), we shall so well to remember that behind our back, escaping our gaze, a new global politics is shaping up. The fault-lines of that politics are not yet clear. But there is no doubt that in that politics we shall see the engagement of the principle of justice with that of claims and rights, the engagement of the ethic of responsibility with the reality of power unconstrained by responsibility, of our history of wars and peace with their history of the same, an engagement of our statelessness with their state.

            The early marks of these engagements are visible in the forms of new political realities in many parts of the world. They give lie to the dubious claims of this curious history, the globalisation promotes trade, trade promotes development, development produces interdependence, and interdependence produces peace, in one phrase that sums up the cinema, liberal peace(39).


1.      John Lewis Gaddis, “The Long Peace--Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System” in Gaddis, The Long Peace-- Inquiries into the History of the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p216.
2.      ibid., p 245
3.      Yet it must be remembered that in the Gulf as much in Vietnam it was a multinational army, the loss in terms of human life was also colossal if not as much, new weaponry deployed with as much rapidity, peace efforts by third parties as desperately and as carefully made.
4.      Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War, cited in The Long Peace, p 217.
5.      In South Asia, for example, the conflicts like those in Kashmir, Sind, Sri Lanka, the CHT, and Afghanistan have shown with remarkable consistency both internal and external linkages. One insurgency analyst has chosen to describe the situation in terms of “crossfire”. See Subir Bhaumik, Indian’s North East-- insurgency Crossfire (NEW Delhi: Lancers, 1996).
6.      Radha Kumar, Divide and fall? Bosnia in the Annals of Partition (London:Verso, 1997); see also the review essay by Arvind N. Das, “The End of Geography”, Biblio, March-April, 1998, pp 8-9; on this theme further, Clive J. Christie, “Partition, Separatism and Naitonal Identity-- A Reassessment”, Political Quarterly, 63(1), January-March 1992, pp 68-72. However Christie’s argument about the need to separate two kinds of partition, ideological and identity generated, can be accepted only in a broad format of decolonisation where the simultaneous processes of partition, decolonisation and new state formaiton were ushered in by war and the decline of the old imperial tradition.
7.      Indeed only with the reappearance of “one” Europe, we now see what the partition of Europe did to the continent. The least that we can say is that old rivalries reappearing and the states system in Central and Eastern Europe being redrawn, Europe often reminds us of an older stage in state formation. The impact of the post-45 arrangement of spheres of influene in East Europe inparticular does not always seem very profound. For a relevant discussion, see Geza Jeszensky, “More Bosnias? Natioanl and Ethnic Tensions in the post-Communist World”, East European Quarterly, 31 (3), September 1997; and Sarah A. Kent, “writing the Yugoslav Wars-- English Language Books on Bosnia (1992-96) and the challenges of Analysing Contemporary History”, American Historical Review, 102 (4), October 1997.
8.      One has to only see some of the debates in the European circles of political thinking reflected in the pages of The European Jouranl of Internaitoanl Affairs to have an idea of how Europe thinks today of the “Americanisation of the Continent”. For example, “An Interview with Mark Eyskens”, the previous Prime Minister of Belgium, 7, Winter 1990; “A Conversation with Joachim Fest”, the co-editor of Frankfuter Allgemeine Zeitung, ibid; Guiseppe Sacco, the well-known columnist, “Europe and the World”, 10 (4), 1990; the whole section on “De Gaulle and his Century”, 9 (3), 1990; “Britain in Today’s World-- An Interview with Michael Heseltine”, a prominent Bristish conversation politician, 6, Autumn 1989; and the two essays in the same number, William Safran, “Is France becoming America?” and Marie-France Toinet, “Convergence in Disguise”.   
9.      Two recent reports in the New York Times by Barbara Crossette, “UN is urged to upgrade Peacekeeping Department”, 24 July 2000, and “Rwandan Pleads for Quicker Intervention in World’s Hot Spots-President Paul Kagme of Rwanda Expressed Disappointement in the Faiuler of Stronger Nations to prevent the Ethnic Massacres in 1994”, are revealing on this count.
10.  The mystery seems to be most to the celebrated campaigners of peace. Of the nine Nobel Peace Prize recepients in 1971-80 only two were concerned with human rights violations and popular protests: Amnesty Internaitonal (1977) and Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1980). Rest, typical of the worries of a world where only the presence or absence of nuclear weapons counted and the typical conflict-resolution mumbo-jumbo of the cold war age-- to mention a few: Willy Brandt (1971), Henry Kissinger (1973), Eisaku Sato (1974), Andrei Sakharov (1975) and Menachem Begin and Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat (1978). Again in 1981-1990, Lech Walesa (1983), Internaitonal Physicians For The Preventation of Nuclear war (1985), XIV Dalai Lama (1989) and the most singularly incapable of addressing the question of war and peace in the third world, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachov (1990). The Nobel Peace Lecturers are also instrctive as they show how peace movement in the two decades had only the Atlantic world in mind when they spoke of “global” dangers. See the 2 volumes of Tore Frangsmyr (ed.), Nobel Lectures-- Peace, 1971-1980 and 1981-1990 (Singapore: Scientific Press, 1997).     The myopia is addressed partly in Mary Durfee and James N Roseneau, “playing Catch-Up: Internationl Relations Theory and Poverty”, Millennium: Journal of Internaitoanl Studies, 25 (3), pp 521-545.
11.  On the issue of peace-keeping, peace- enforcing and helping the stae to stand on its feet there is a growing literature which begins of course with the evaluation of the Military Staff Committee of the UN, see, for example,Johnathan Soffer, “All for One or All for All - the UN Military staff Committee and the Contradictions within American Internationalism”, Diplomatic History, 21 (1), Winter 1997, pp 45-69; Eva Bertram, “ Reinventing Governmetns-- The Promise and Perils of United Nations Peace Building”, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 39 (3), September 1995, pp 387-418; D. Holiday and W. Stanley, “Building the Peace- Preliminary Lessons from El Salvador”, Journal of Internatioanl Affairs, 46 (2), 1993, pp 415-438;
12.   The triumphalist literature is extremely varied. Hoever the reader can get an idea of the uneven texture from Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (London: Penguin, 1992); J.L Gaddis, “International Relations Theory and the End of Cold War”, Internatioanl Security, 17 (3), 1992-93; Paul Kennedy, Preparing for the Twentieth Century (New York: Randon House, 1993); W.C.Wohlforth, “Realism and the End of the Cold War” Internatioanl Security, 19 (3), 1994-95; A. Varsoi (ed.), Europe 1945-1990s-- The End of an Era? (London: Macmillan, 1995); Thomas J. Mccormick, “Troubled Triumphalism-- Cold War Veterans Confront a Post-Cold war World”, Diplomatic Hitory, 21 (3), 1997; s.P. Huntigton, “The Clash of Civilisations?”, Foreign Affairs, 72 (3), 1993; Huntington, “if not Civilisations, what? Paradigms of the Post Cold War World”, Foreign Affairs, 72 (5)1993.   The return to nineteenth centry in today’s discourse of war and peace has to be on some other ocassion discussed in greater detail. Not only historians like Gadddis recall tha lst century while discussing peace, ironically references to cold war also bring back the preceding century. Theodore Draper in the essay, “ Prophets of the “Cold War” in his Present History-- On Nuclear War, Detente, and Other Controversies (NEW York: Random House, 1983, pp 371-399, recounts the theme as it had featured in the nineteenth century, and discusses in that context the famous remark by Alexis de Tocqueville made more than hundred years ago about Russo- American control of the globe.
13.  Gaddis, “The Long Peace”; Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1975).