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The Term Limit Peace Theory

The ‘Term Limit Peace Theory’ (TLPT) bears resemblance to the ‘Democratic Peace Theory’ (DPT) characterized by the notion that democracies never go to war with each other.  The ‘DPT’ is very contentious since democracy is a complex subject to define. The ‘TLPT’ is a concept I use to describe the nature in which nation states behave when they have fully functional presidential term limits in their constitutions. Nations that implement and strictly abide by presidential term limits never engage in full blown internal civil war and power struggles. There always a few exceptions to the rule but overall this concept holds true. Term limits are very powerful in containing the desires and aspirations of potential challengers, opposition groups and explosion of civilian led revolutions. The cyclical and predictable power change eliminates the danger of power seekers to resort to war or other unconstitutional measures to assume power.

One of the strategies that I believe can be implemented to promote and preserve peace across the globe would be persuading nation states to include and abide by presidential term limits in their constitutions.  This idea is nothing new in the realms of international politics in fact many modern republics across the globe have already adopted some form of constitutional statute on term limits. We live in a world that often assimilates successful ideas and I believe term limits provide geopolitical peace and stability within nations and therefore fall in that category. This is not a suggestion that super-powers invade sovereign states to spread this doctrine but rather a gradual process of leading these nations to the river without forcing them to drink.  Incentives can be utilized to make the water more desirable and the masses can be sensitized to have that thirst for democracy and representative leadership.

This is a very critical issue of our time considering the numerous military conflicts and revolutions that continue to evolve and escalate into war. The international community has had no answers to contain revolutions that have led to the fall of a growing list of regimes during the Arab spring from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and others including Syria which is currently in a state of civil war. Millions of lives have been lost and more continue to perish while the international community watches.

There is no doubt that having term limits would have prevented most of these revolutions even though it’s arguable that the root cause of the demonstrations was floundering economies.  High un-employment, poor-pay, rising food and fuel prices and the widening gap between the rich and poor played a critical role in driving the masses to the streets. The fact that many of their leaders were operating under the umbrella of autocratic regimes that were immune to the ballot added fuel to the fire—transforming the demonstrations into revolutions.

The failure of diplomacy and the power struggles among stake-holders within the Security Council once again demonstrates how flawed and irrelevant the United Nations has become. It is time to revisit the drawing board and devise new ways in which the international community can create a more legitimate platform for promoting peace and a clearer vision for humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect. It is laughable that “arming the rebels” or “picking sides” between enemy combatants has become a major strategy to curtail human rights violations and genocide.

Reconfiguring the dynamics within the Security Council is imperative including abolishing the veto power held by permanent members. A permanent standing U.N army should be considered rather than relying on peacekeeping forces. This would allow for more legitimate, quicker, decisive and well coordinated military interventions when needed. A long-term approach that should be aggressively implemented involves executing policy that would prevent and reduce the occurrence of civil war and genocide. The United Nations and member states should promote, encourage and incentivize democratization with term limits. This will create more stability and improve the approach to governance across the world that would eliminate the necessity and complexities of humanitarian intervention.

© Kawuma

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