In This Review

Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States
Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States
By Jesse Driscoll
Cambridge University Press, 2015, 264 pp

Taking a deep look at the fighting that took place in Georgia and Tajikistan in the early 1990s after the Soviet Union disbanded, Driscoll questions many of the core assumptions scholars make in the literature on international peacekeeping. He knows this academic field well and is fluent in its key arguments, but he also spent two years in the places where these wars occurred and among those who fought them. This kind of firsthand research gives his analysis real heft. In both cases, it was not the eventual triumph of state authority, the clear defeat of one side, the disarming of the warring parties, or the arbitration of international mediators that allowed the conflict to end, as many theorists would assume. Rather, he argues, it was the deals that opposing warlords worked out among themselves, based on the bounty they could share, in a system that tolerated or even exploited their avarice—not least because they frequently came to constitute the state. In both cases, Russia acted not as an honest broker but as a source of the spoils of war.