The security dilemma can be used explain and predict ethnic conflict within a given state. Posen’s argument is supported by the belief that the basic tenets of realism provide a clear view of the security dilemma and its relationship with ethnic conflict. I believe the security dilemma in general is largely based in realist theory, and therefore fails to view international relations fairly. I believe that liberalism offers important insight into dealing with conflict that Posen fails to address.
Realist theory believes that one states military improvements are undistinguishable as offensive or defensive, and are seen as threats to another state. This, in turn, requires the opposing state to improve its military to ensure its own self interest. Posen argues that when an empire falls, there will be a power struggle between competing groups, within a state, as a result of the anarchy left by the failing empire. It is argued by Posen that the competing groups variations in the history of their group and whatever military power they may have will threaten other groups, creating a security dilemma, which results in ethnic conflict.
I believe the security dilemma is shaped by realist theory because it presupposes military improvements will be seen as threats. It has been shown that military improvements are not always seen as threats, for example the United States is not threatened by Pakistan having nuclear weaponry. Mutual agreements can be reached to provide trust that military armament isn’t threatening. I believe that ethnic conflict is avoidable within a failing state. Cooperation can occur between groups, if they can see the security it will provide. Mutual agreements can be reached by ethnic groups to cooperate prior to conflict, which can secure their self interest.
Posen feels agreements are often reached after conflicts have already began with cease-fires. He also contends a cease-fire only occurs when one side feels successful and the opposing side fears the result of continued conflict. Posen argues that a cease-fire...