Peter Jones

Abstract

This article explores the attitudes of Canadian officials towards international conflict mediation and towards the potential for greater official Canadian involvement in the field. The study is based on extensive interviews with Canadian officials who have been involved in mediation at various points over a 20-year period. It finds that Canada, and particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), has taken a largely ad hoc approach to its involvement in the field. Prior to the initiation of this study, there had been no attempt to develop an institutional capacity in this field within DFAIT or to keep track of the personnel involved in such experiences, much less to develop a trained cadre of such individuals. This stands in contrast to the efforts of countries that have prioritized mediation as a foreign policy activity, such as some Scandinavian countries and Switzerland. Many of those interviewed pointed to these countries as potential models for Canada in this field, but it became apparent in discussions that most of those interviewees were not necessarily well-informed as to what these countries have done; there was just a general sense that these countries do it well and that Canada could learn from them. Moreover, none of the interviewees demonstrated significant familiarity with the vast literature on mediation. Those interviewed made recommendations as to how Canada might develop its official mediation capacities so as to play a more active and focused role in this field.

The Falling Rate of Profit and the Great Recession of 2007-2009

A New Approach to Applying Marx’s Value Theory and Its Implications for Socialist Strategy

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Peter Jones

In The Falling Rate of Profit and the Great Recession of 2007-2009, Peter Jones develops a new non-equilibrium interpretation of the labour theory of value Karl Marx builds in Capital. Applying this to US national accounting data, Jones shows that when measured correctly the profit rate falls in the lead up to the Great Recession, and for the main reason Marx identifies: the rising organic composition of capital.
Jones also details a new theory of finance, which shows how cycles in the profit rate relate to stock market booms and slumps, and movements in the interest rate. He discusses the implications of the analysis and Marx and Engels’ work generally for a democratic socialist strategy.

Peter Jones

Despite saying that they will never “talk to terrorists,” many countries have done so. Often these dialogues have included a component of so-called “Track Two Diplomacy.” This article examines whether such a dialogue could be held with al Qaeda and other such groups. Research demonstrates that dialogues have been useful in ending terror campaigns in certain circumstances, but that they were never the decisive element. Where they have been useful, dialogues have helped to distinguish those members of terror organizations who are willing to talk from the hardliners, in helping to develop ‘acceptable’ players on the other side, and in allowing the two sides to better understand each other. The article finds that a dialogue with the hard core of al Qaeda is likely impossible, but that some elements may be willing to talk. Such dialogues will be localized and will be about specific concerns and, like in other cases, will be about seeing if there are elements of the movement that can be detached from the hard-core base. Track Two may have a role to play in these dialogues, but expectations should be kept modest.

Peter Jones

Summary

Back-channel diplomacy allows participants to hold dialogues with actors with whom they are not prepared to talk openly. The secrecy of back channels can, however, permit a small elite to escape oversight and scrutiny to achieve unaccountable aims. This article examines the ethical dilemmas raised by the secrecy of back channels. It seeks to develop some practical ‘tests’ that can be used to ask whether a back channel is straying, or has strayed, into dangerous ethical territory. The article advances three such tests for further development, but also concludes that they cannot be ‘absolute’; the context in which a back channel operates is the key variable.

‘Requisite irony’ and ‘the knowledge-based economy’

A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Drafting of Education Policy in the European Union

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Peter D. Jones