In This Review

Peacemaking From Above, Peace From Below: Ending Conflict Between Regional Rivals
Peacemaking From Above, Peace From Below: Ending Conflict Between Regional Rivals
By Norrin M. Ripsman
Cornell University Press, 2016, 224 pp
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In searching for the sources of peace between regional adversaries, some scholars emphasize the importance of top-down diplomatic overtures and others focus on the bottom-up efforts of citizens to reach across borders to change social attitudes. In this groundbreaking book, Ripsman argues that successful peacemaking requires both approaches. Initial breakthroughs rely on governments’ negotiating formal peace settlements, often over the objections of their publics. But for the agreements to endure, rival states need to earn the buy-in of their societies, and this requires the long, slow work of groups working to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the two countries. Ripsman draws these conclusions from detailed studies of the peacemaking between France and Germany after World War II and Israel’s peace processes with Egypt in the 1970s and Jordan in the 1990s. In each case, a formal agreement was necessary to settle territorial disputes and prevent violence, and leaders were motivated by statist and geostrategic interests. But the move from what the scholar Alexander George called a “precarious peace” to a “stable peace” happened only when individuals and groups on both sides made efforts to change hostile attitudes and build trust.