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Great Decisions series takes look at building a lasting peace
Craig Greathouse, assistant professor of political science at North Georgia College and State University, discusses peace building and conflict resolution Monday evening at the Gainesville Civic Center as part of the university’s Great Decisions series.

Great Decisions 2010

Hall County
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Mondays
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville

Forsyth County
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays
Where: Hampton Park Library, 5345 Settingdown Road, Cumming

Week 6: Global crime

Building a peaceful and stable nation is no easy task.

Craig Greathouse, assistant professor of political science at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, explained that stability can take decades and even generations to accomplish.

Greathouse was the speaker at the school’s fifth installment of the Great Decisions series, which focused on peacebuilding and conflict resolution and was held Monday night at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Greathouse explained that after violence ends, peacebuilding is the process that aims to address the cause of conflicts and develop durable peace.

“It’s one thing keeping the sides from shooting at each other. What’s difficult is changing societies,” Greathouse said.

The U.S. has attempted peacebuilding several times since the Cold War with moderate success, Greathouse said.

America sent peacebuilding missions to Somalia in 1992, Haiti in 1994, Bosnia in 1995, Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003.

“Some of them we failed spectacularly at,” Greathouse said, pointing out Somalia’s continued chaos.

But in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, results are mixed.

“Are we being successful in some parts? Yes. Are we not being successful in some parts? Yes,” he said.

Following a conflict, there are a number of necessary steps before a state can successfully run on its own.

First, the basic needs of food, shelter and medical care must be met.

“Historically, if you’ve got people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, they’re more likely to look at extreme causes,” Greathouse said.

Once that’s taken care of, developing a stable government is the focus.

“You have to have governance,” Greathouse said. “Government is essential for keeping a society running.”

A judiciary body is also essential for a state to enforce laws in a nonviolent way.

“You need nonconflict resolution,” Greathouse said. “If you can get people to accept law, your chances of being successful go up.”

Greathouse said for peace to come, there must be international commitment, internal capacity to change and a halt to hostility.

“These three elements have to work together,” Greathouse said.

Peace is most difficult to establish in states with religious or ethnic conflicts.

“People don’t like to compromise about core values,” Greathouse said. “It’s much more difficult to solve these problems.”

It is also difficult for foreign powers to solve issues when there are many factions involved.

“If I’m only dealing with two groups, I can get them in a room,” Greathouse said. “If I’ve got to negotiate with 20 groups, the likelihood of them saying yes to something goes down.”

Greathouse said mixed success of peacebuilding over the years has caused the American public to question its worth.

“The idea behind peacebuilding is really good,” Greathouse said. “The question is, are we going to be willing to do it. Change in society takes time, and in some cases it takes generations.”

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