Last night as part of my research for my piece on foresight and conflict resolution I was reading The Future: Images and Processes by Elise and Kenneth Boulding. As a long time peace researcher, Elise has found that the world lacks images of peace, and therefore an ability to truly move towards peace.
The history we read is structured on wars and the associated winners and losers. Much of national research and technology advancement is based on this idea of continued conflict. We are always preparing for the next conflict, the next type of enemy. Just the other day The Christian Science Monitor published an article called Unmanned drone attacks and shape-shifting robots: War’s remote-control future. Elise quite rightfully questions our seemingly natural habit of building more advanced technologies to be able to fight the greatest of adversaries as our strategy for maintaining peace. She refers regularly to the phrase ‘preparing for peace through war’ as the dominant global paradigm. The fact is however, if we are always preparing for peace through war we will always face violent conflict. If we were truly moving towards peace, then we wouldn’t need a remote control war. Which to me emplies both a growing distaste for violence and an increased ability to be violent. The questions then are, will this technology potentially lower war casualties by making strikes more focused and specific? Do they eventually lead to a new form of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) that will leave both parties at a standstill for fear of fallout? On the other hand, we need to remember that it’s really only a minority of people involved in violent conflict that have access to these ever more advanced war technologies.
Elise’s concept of images brings to question something bigger for me, do groups or countries who have been in conflict for a long time like Northern Uganda, Israel/Palestine, Somalia, and so on, lack the ability to create images of a peaceful future, and therefore do they lack the ability to strategically move in a direction of peace? What might the role of foresight facilitators be in conflict resolution?
This post has also been published on IFTF’s Future Now blog.