Judith Presler, Sally J. Scholtz, eds. Peacemaking: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000. xix + 311 pp. $34.50 (paper), ISBN 978-90-420-1552-4; $64.00 (library), ISBN 978-90-420-1562-3.
Reviewed by Stacy Bergstrom Haldi (Fellow, Center for Global Security and Democracy, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey)
Published on H-Diplo (July, 2002)
Philosophers Approach Peace from Many Perspectives
Philosophers Approach Peace from Many Perspectives
Peacemaking approaches one of the central issues of international relations from an overlooked perspective: philosophy. Judith Presler and Sally Scholz have compiled eighteen wide-ranging essays that explore the nature of peacemaking. Of even greater importance, this edited volume strives to improve our ability to make peace in the future.
"I believe that it falls largely to philosophical thought to make sense of the post-cold-war world, and that the philosophical community has an obligation to bend its best efforts in this direction" (p. 119). So Steven Lee begins his contribution, "Sovereignty and Positive Peace." Philosophy is the root of international relations scholarship. Now may be an especially propitious time for philosophers to re-enter what has recently been an international relations debate. While the future may confirm the value of more traditional approaches, the end of the cold war seems to have freed scholars to think about old problems in new ways.
It is difficult to generalize about a collection of essays as diverse as those compiled by Presler and Scholz, but some characterizations are in order. First, the majority of the pieces are prescriptive--they focus on what should be done to advance peacemaking. This is especially the case in the first section of the volume, "Theoretical Models for Peacemaking." Moreover, there is considerable concern about what should be done, not simply from a practical standpoint, but from a moral and ethical one as well. For example, in "Moral Foundations of Political Negotiations," Thomas A. Imhoff examines whether "principled negotiations results in agreements more appealing than agreements used in standard negotiation strategies, but also on moral grounds" (p. 7).
Likewise, Jerald Richards, in "Common Morality and Peacemaking", seeks to develop the basic principles of a universal common morality, which he asserts is necessary for positive peace, one including social justice as well as the absence of war (p. 19). Presler rejects Hampshire's theory of procedural justice partly on the grounds that "its considerations and conclusions are not moral considerations or conclusions" (p. 48). This normative focus sets the essays in this volume apart from traditional realist approaches to international relations which are consciously positive and amoral. In that respect, this volume is a useful counterpoint to realist international relations literature.
Another way this volume distinguishes itself from traditional international relations literature is by its focus on society, especially the role of the individual in peacemaking. The third section of Peacemaking is titled "Day-to-Day Peacemaking for a Just World." The six essays in this section, with the possible exception of Alison Bailey's "Race-making as the Process of Enmification," examine the role of the individual. They range from Marilyn Fischer's examination of Jane Addams' pacifism to Sally J. Scholz's use of international-peacemaking methods as a way to respond to oppression in "Catcalls and Military Strategy." Of particular interest is Gail Presbey's examination of successful mediators in African cultures. In addition to providing a fascinating account in its own right, Presbey discusses the relationship between interdependence and mediation (p. 234) in a way that makes her essay more relevant for international relations scholars. This concern with the role of individuals is not limited to the third section of the volume, but can be found in the theoretical section as well. Mary Lenzi, in "Plato and Echo-Feminism: Platonic Psychology and Politics for Peace," concludes that the "interplay between self and society accounts for ever-alternating currents of war and peace" (p. 101). This focus on the individual, the assertion that individuals do matter, stands in stark contrast to structural theories of international relations.
Peacemaking also shares some approaches with international relations theory. Many of the essays in this volume seem to have been influenced by constructivist ideas. For example, Joseph C. Kunkel, in "Reflections on Caring and Peace Politics," discusses the use of conversation to bring a needed objectivity to ethics of caring. He writes, "Dialogue aids in objectifying moral conflicts while remaining in the mode of caring" (p. 113). Laura Duhan Kaplan uses a constructivist approach more explicitly in her intensely personal essay, "Mothering as a Motivation for Pacifism: Theorizing from Inside and Out." Kaplan balances her own experience becoming a new mother (inside) against the possibility that her emotions may be at least partially constructed by society (outside). Kaplan concludes that "simply giving birth and raising children does not, in itself, constitute pacifist praxis" (p. 228).
Not all of these essays break sharply from more mainstream international relations scholarship. The entire second section, "International Intervention and Defense," reads almost like a dissent to the other two sections. In "Ancient Thoughts on Peacekeepers and Other Busybodies," Leo Groarke uses a very different approach than is usually found in the security studies literature. He writes "that interference should be minimal. We must bear in mind its costs, and exercise it in a way that harnesses natural forces" (p. 138). Nevertheless, this conclusion would not set him apart. Nor would Robert Litke's statement that "in a number of contexts we can achieve reasonable goals only through the use of force or some other form of dominating power" (p. 142). This is indeed a very diverse collection of scholarship, and this diversity is a strength that keeps the reader's interest.
"Nonmilitary Responses to Nuclear Threat or Attack," Richard Wendell Fogg's contribution, is the longest and most detailed essay in the book. While offering a "non-military defense" (p. 160) to a nuclear attack, that Fogg correctly argues is even more likely in the post-cold war world, his argument does have shortcomings. First of all, in a parenthetical aside, Fogg wonders, "Could the Pacific War, with so much death, have been prevented if the West had given Japan fair trading rights before the conflict erupted?" (p. 166). By ignoring Japan's invasion of Manchuria, although not central to his argument, Fogg makes it difficult to take his proposition seriously. More critically, his proposal does not give sufficient weight to one of the key characteristics of nuclear weapons: a short time-frame. He should have included this point under his heading, "Objections to the Proposal" (p. 182). It is doubtful that an attacking state will give the victim the kind of time Fogg's proposal requires for domestic opposition to bring about de-escalation.
One of the principal weaknesses of this volume is that most of the essays are too short for the authors to fully develop their arguments. For example, in "Race-Making as the Process of Enmification," Alison Bailey asserts that "[i]n this way whiteness is an invisible package of unearned assets that white people can count on cashing in each day, but about which they were meant to remain oblivious" (p. 264). Bailey is drawing on the scholarship of Peggy McIntosh, but she does not answer "by whom?" Without the answer to that question, her argument loses much of its force. One may conclude that she left this unanswered due to space constraints. If this volume is an attempt to reach out to a more inter-disciplinary audience, it is perhaps unfair to ascribe this sort of prior knowledge to the reader. In a perfect world, one where series editors were not constrained by budgets, each of the three sections in this volume, "Theoretical Models for Peacemaking," "International Intervention and Defense," and "Day-to-Day Peacemaking for a Just Future," would have a volume in its own right.
Peacemaking is a versatile volume. The philosophers who contributed their efforts have kept a reasonably broad audience in mind. In addition to philosophy courses, this book could also be incorporated into courses on conflict resolution to bring in alternative perspectives. Policy makers as well will find plenty to think about in this collection.
Peacemaking brings diverse perspectives to a vitally important global issue: how to build a positive peace, whether among states, societies, or individuals. Realists may not be convinced, however, that the authors here have addressed the issue of power satisfactorily. As Ron Hirschbein, in his contribution, quotes Monster Kody Scott, "raw power" was "intoxicating beyond any other high on the planet" (p. 276). Nevertheless, the genuine optimism of so many of the scholars, combined with their fresh approach to such important subject matter, makes Peacemaking a valuable contribution to the field.
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Stacy Bergstrom Haldi. Review of Presler, Judith; Scholtz, Sally J., eds., Peacemaking: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future.
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