Peacebuilding in Postconflict Societies: Strategy and Process; Military Intervention After the Cold War: The Evolution of Theory and Practice; The Quest for Viable Peace: International Intervention and Strategies for Conflict Transformation

In This Review

Peacebuilding in Postconflict Societies: Strategy and Process

By Ho-Won Jeong
Lynne Rienner, 2005
260 pp. $55.00
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Military Intervention After the Cold War: The Evolution of Theory and Practice

By Andrea Kathryn Talentino
Ohio University Press, 2005
376 pp. $26.00
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The Quest for Viable Peace: International Intervention and Strategies for Conflict Transformation

Edited by Jock Covey, Michael Dziedzic, and Leonard Hawley
U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2005
368 pp. $22.50
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How can societies escape from conflict? Jeong examines evidence from numerous cases to consider the processes of demilitarization, political transition, development, and reconciliation, addressing the role of both insiders and outsiders. The book is extremely well informed and repays careful attention. Unfortunately, the author's method of developing ideas by drawing on particular features of disparate conflicts, often out of context, also means that the book is rather dense and tends toward a taxonomy of techniques and approaches without any strong themes, other than the need to take an integrative approach, coming through.

Very special problems are created when outside forces enter conflict-prone societies and try to put these societies back together again. As Talentino notes, despite the very mixed results of successive interventions, the practice has not stopped. Her book provides a competent survey of the main interventions of the 1990s, from Somalia to Kosovo, with some concluding musings on Iraq. In the last case, questions of motivations and international support loom larger than in the other cases, which benefited from widespread international sympathy. The basic question in all cases is neatly put: "How can outside actors instill and entrench liberal norms in states governed by realist insecurities and divided by violence?"

Dziedzic makes a similar point in his conclusion to the U.S. Institute of Peace volume, observing, playing on Clausewitz's famous line, that "'peace' is but the continuation of conflict by other violent means." The persistence of violent power structures creates a vacuum in the rule of law and a criminalized political economy, both of which can only be rectified with time, resources, and perseverance. With his co-editors, Covey and Hawley, Dziedzic provides a thorough, authoritative, and focused analysis of how these issues were addressed in the Kosovo operation. The practical experience of the editors and their contributors shines through in an analysis that covers advance planning, dealing with continuing conflict, and defeating extremism, as well as promoting the rule of law and developing a viable political economy. The wealth of knowledge that is now available on the common problems that face outsiders when they get involved in these conflicts makes it all the more depressing that it was so willfully ignored when it came to Iraq.