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Thursday, September 28 • 2:00pm - 2:25pm
Our Conflict Blind Spot: Have we been thinking about the problem the wrong way?

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Solutions to violence are driven by how we define the problem. Defining the problem as idle young men leads to employment programs. Defining the problem as greedy warlords leads to deals that give them power or turn a blind eye to corruption. And defining the problem as deep-seated grievances leads to re-education or propaganda programs. What if these are not the fundamental problems that leads to conflict? Then the solutions might not be solutions at all. Game theorists tend to think about all conflict as failed political bargaining. These bargains fail for a small number of reasons, especially bad information and difficulty making a stable commitment not to attack. It turns out, most conflict interventions can be discussed in terms of their effects on bargaining. And the evidence shows that the solutions with the best track record are the ones that solve the basic problems of bargaining. Examples include mediation, peacekeeping, and some but not all kinds of aid. From the village to the country level, once we redefine the problem, we redefine the solutions that make sense and will work.

Watch the video here. 

avatar for Chris Blattman

Chris Blattman

Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies, University of Chicago
As a faculty member in The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, Christopher Blattman is helping the Institute pursue its global mission by focusing on some of the biggest social challenges in Africa and Latin America: conflict, crime, and state building... Read More →

Thursday September 28, 2017 2:00pm - 2:25pm EDT
Amphitheater Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center