From the Editor’s Desk

by Kyrstie Lane, Managing Editor

At the Centre for Conflict Studies, one of our main goals is to provide a platform for the exchange of information between scholars and practitioners, between students and professionals, in the field of peace and conflict studies. With that goal in mind, in this issue of Reflections we have turned to some of our professors here in Monterey, CA, who together cover many areas of expertise, to share with us their opinions and perceptions on a wide range of interesting issues from the field.

Edgard Coly, a professor of French at the Monterey Institute, provides us with this quarter’s cover story and photo. His description of the Cars Rapides in Dakar, Senegal seems at first glance to be a portrait of a cultural aspect of this bustling city; however, his tale reveals itself to be a more disturbing picture of poverty, societal inequality, and political corruption. William Arrocha shares with us his analysis of the insanity of the war on drugs in the United States and Mexico, and the extreme measures of force taken to combat what he describes as a manufactured evil. He introduces the issue as a fetishization of the use of force, and challenges us to reexamine the way we view the war on drugs and the tactics used to fight it. Kayoko Takeda, a professor of translation and interpretation from Japan, was inspired by Pushpa Iyer’s column on neutrality in our last issue. She shares with us the challenges that interpreters face in remaining neutral while working in conflict situations, an issue that is often forgotten or overlooked. Her article gives us more insight into the often very crucial role of interpreters in these delicate situations. Jomana Amara, from the Naval Postgraduate Institute, comments on the recent concept of expeditionary economics in the military, using the example of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her article delves into the differences in the PRTs of various nations, the challenges these teams have faced, and what changes or improvements may be necessary for them to be most effective in the future.

In this issue’s Pedagogy of Conflict column, our director Pushpa Iyer’s appropriately titled piece “The X-Factor” discusses that unnamed yet essential quality that those who work in this field must possess. Though necessary for working in conflict-related fields, this quality is nearly impossible to teach and difficult even to explain. Dr. Iyer stresses the importance of self-reflection for all who seek to work in conflict situations, and the importance of unpacking your personal agenda and being honest about why you want to work in this field.

Picks of the Quarter presents some of the lesser known “side effects” of the “war on drugs: in other Latin American countries, the growing threat of conflict over water in India, and some of the implications the recent, tragic massacre of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier has for the U.S. armed forces, particularly in terms of the mental health of its members.

In conflict studies, the willingness to continually be learning and to be open to new points of view and new ideas is essential. We hope this quarter’s magazine gives you something new to reflect upon.

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