28 September 2006

Incentives for peace

Did "codes of honor" inhibit men like Hitler and Stalin? Chirot and McCauley reply that genocidal followers typically think less fanatically than leaders. Farsighted policies of engagement can thus stem genocide from the bottom up rather than the top down. "Those who want to set forest fires," the authors write in a rare punchy image, "will always be around, but if they have less material to work with, they are more likely to fail." For all that, they warn, "no single method seems to us to offer a comprehensive solution." Is the Crematorium Half-Full or Half-Empty? Carlin Romano
Exactly. No single method will work. We cannot therefore delegate the prevention of genocide to existing organisations, however well resourced, however well meaning. Organisations have their own objectives, of which the over-riding one is self-perpetuation; they have few incentives to be imaginative in their approaches to social problems. What is needed are highly motivated new organisations, whose goals are exactly congruent with society’s. These organisations might not have a stable structure, nor a stable composition, but their societally determined goal would be stable. Prevention of genocide and other violent conflict could be the raison d’etre of such organisations, if their rewards were inextricably tied to their achieving it. I suggest Conflict Reduction Bonds, redeemable only when absence of conflict had been sustained for a defined period. These bonds would contract the achievement of peace to the market, instead of to the inevitably poorly-resourced, distracted or corrupted bureaucracies that are currently charged with the task.

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