The end of the cold war and the aftermath of the Gulf War gave birth to an overoptimistic view on peace and stability. From an ethical point of view, a pacifist tradition is in place chanting the theoretical merits of peace. Politicians, using phrases like “The New World Order”, with references to “the End of History” were now fostering the impression that peace was practically feasible. Action researchers engaged in conflict and peace studies were eager to take up the scientific gauntlet. Early warning systems and conflict prevention became serious issues, if not fashionable language. As we are engaged at our institute for quite some time with problems of conflict prevention, the main aim of this article is to save the scientific concept from expectations which cannot be fulfilled. If, for reasons of high ethics, we place voluntarism above realism and emotions above aseptic scientific standards, we could end with politics lacking any moral standards.
The West is characterised by dynamism and moral reflexes to bring about good. Within the world’s political domain, the West holds positions of power as well as key economic positions. In practice, the combination of these two factors periodically lead to the former being used to maintain the latter. We need to be aware that this discord will continue to cast a shadow on what – at first sight at least – is undoubtedly a noble aim: to help bring peace and prosperity to the world.