Collective Security beyond the Cold War

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Collective Security beyond the Cold War

Edited by George E. Downs
University of Michigan Press, 1994
275 pp. $39.50

This collection of essays investigates the prospects for collective security after the Cold War from a rather abstract point of view, beginning with early chapters on game theory. Despite the clear preference of some of the authors for collective security, many of the essays are quite modest in predicting what the approach can achieve. The two historical chapters on the classic balance of power system by Charles Lipson and Michael Doyle, for example, suggest that the Concert of Europe might provide a better model for the present than a broad Wilsonian international legal mechanism. The book does not reach any startling conclusions with regard to present-day problems: Charles Glaser argues that NATO continues to be the best framework for European security, while for Steve Walt collective security toward the former U.S.S.R. amounts to little other than a mutual agreement between outside powers to stay out (though he somewhat inconsistently argues that there ought to be intervention not for security but for human rights purposes). One gap in the book is its failure to address more forthrightly the acute predicament of the only universal collective security mechanism out there, the United Nations, as revealed by the recent debacles in Somalia and Bosnia.

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