Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson. Managing Global Chaos: Sources of and Responses to International Conflict. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1996. xxiii + 642 pp. $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-1-878379-58-0; $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-878379-59-7.
Reviewed by Mark W. Charlton (Trinity Western University)
Published on H-Teachpol (February, 1998)
Managing Global Chaos is an ambitious book both in size and scope and in its intended purpose. The volume has its origins in a conference hosted by the United States Institute for Peace in December 1994 on the theme, "Managing Global Chaos." The immediate purpose of the conference was to bring together the various researchers and authors associated with the Institute in order to provide a state-of-the-field overview of current research on conflict management and peacemaking in the post-Cold War era. As the planning progressed other authors were invited to participate in order to ensure that all dimensions of the issue of international conflict were covered. The result is a massive, 641-page collection of forty-one essays that explore the nature of contemporary international conflict and examine the various instruments, actors, techniques, and policies for managing international conflict.
In producing the volume, the editors appear to have had several goals in mind. They wanted to produce a collection of readings that summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the nature of contemporary conflicts and their resolution. They also wanted to ensure that the research presented bridged the gap between academic perspectives and practical concerns of policy makers and practitioners. At the same time, the editors wanted to use the volume to build bridges between security studies and peace and conflict studies. Finally, the editors wanted to produce a volume that was useful to experts and practitioners in the field as well as to students and the lay public. Although the goals of the volume are ambitious, I believe that they have largely succeeded in their task.
The book is divided into four major parts. Part I deals with the sources of conflict in a changing world. This section begins with an essay by Jack Levy which outlines the contending theories of international conflict from a levels-of-analysis perspective. This is followed by nine essays which tackle the structural, social, psychological explanations, migration, technology, resources, and trade.
Part II of the volume is entitled, "Statecraft, Intervention, and International Order." This section begins with a text of Henry Kissinger's conference speech on "The New World Order." This is followed by two subsections. The first section presents six essays on the changing role of force, coercive diplomacy, and collective security. The second contains seven essays on peace-keeping and humanitarian intervention. These essays cover a range of topics including the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in humanitarian crises and the impact of the media and the "CNN effect."
Part III moves the discussion of contemporary conflicts into the realm of conflict management. The ten essays in this section examine the role of preventive diplomacy, mediation, and multi-track initiatives. Several essays in this section deal with various dimensions of negotiation and mediation, especially in a cross-cultural context.
Part IV looks at the challenge of ensuring a lasting peace. The six essays in this section examine why "orphaned peace settlements" fail and how promotion of democratic governance and peace-building can contribute to long-term resolution of conflicts. The books ends with a fourteen-page essay summarizing the findings of the volume.
Although the volume itself originated in a conference, the editors have worked hard to make this more than a verbatim summary of the conference. Only a couple of selections such as Henry Kissinger's chapter on "The New World Order," and Ted Koppel's two-page article on "The Perils of Info-Democracy," smack of conference talks. The rest of the volume presents thorough, well documented overviews of the topics that they are surveying. In some cases, the essays present a very accessible summary of full scale studies published by the USIP. For example, Michael Lund, "Early Warning and Preventive Diplomacy," Alexander George's "The Role of Force in Diplomacy: A Continuing Dilemma for U.S. Foreign Policy," and David Little's "Religious Militancy" each present a useful overview of the findings published in their larger studies by the Institute.
The editors have done a nice job in organizing and presenting the collection. Jack Levy's essay on contending theories on international conflict nicely presents some context for the studies in reading the essays that follow. The editors present us with a nice variety of essays. Some are comprehensive, state-of-the-art summaries of a particular aspect of the field. Others attack a particular position or perspective.
Managing Global Chaos contains three types of articles, which help to make the volume especially suited as a text for an upper-level international relations course. First, Jack Levy's, "Contending Theories of International Conflict: A Levels-of-Analysis Approach," provides a comprehensive overview of the whole field, placing the subsequent chapters in the book into the context of the field. This gives students an good introduction to the area of conflict studies and provides them a good context for reading the subsequent chapters and having an idea where they fit into the overall field.
A second type of article tackles a specific issue or problem in the area of conflict research. For example, Ted Robert Gurr provides an article on minorities and ethnic conflict, while Janice Gross Stein writes on the role of image and perceptions in international conflict. Since these articles all are quite well documented, they provide the student with a good "gateway" into the broader literature on the subject.
A third type of article presented are specific conflict case studies, particularly in Parts III and IV of the book. For example, after the article by I. William Zartman and Saadia Touval on "International Mediation in the Post-Cold War Era," we are presented with two case studies, one dealing with mediation in the Middle East and one examining the Rhodesian Settlement as a study of successful mediation. A total of six such cases studies are presented.
This book would be useful as a text either for courses on war and peace in the contemporary world or perhaps in a senior international relations seminar course. The excellent combination of overview articles, coverage of the major subfields and case studies make ii possible to provide the student with a comprehensive, and at the same time, an in depth perspective of the field within one text book.
Some of the articles in the book can also be used effectively with other materials. While the volume came to my attention too late to use as a class text this year, I have used several articles in my senior undergraduate seminar on international relations. Especially useful were those that challenge certain prevailing points of view in the field. For example, I assigned the students an article by Thomas Homer-Dixon outlining his views on the relationship between environmental degradation, conflict, and forced migrations. I then had the students read Astri Suhrke's stimulating "Environmental Change, Migration, and Conflict: A Lethal Feedback Dynamic?" which challenges Homer-Dixon's thesis. Similarly, I had the students read an article by John Mueller on the obsolescence of war and then followed it up with Eliot A. Cohen's "Military Power and International Order: Is Force Finished?" from Managing Global Chaos. In both cases, the students found the opposing views to be stimulating and they provided the basis for good class discussion and debate. Other essays, such as Richard Betts, "The Delusion of Impartial Intervention" can be used in a similar fashion.
Managing Global Chaos is a well thought-out and effectively constructed volume. It is one of the few volumes that can genuinely lay claim to success in meeting the ambitious goal of being a volume that is both useful to practitioners in the field while providing an effective classroom resource. I would highly recommend this volume for upper level courses in international relations or war and peace. Given both the relatively modest price of the volume and its 642 pages, students will undoubtedly feel that they are getting good value for their money.
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Mark W. Charlton. Review of Crocker, Chester A.; Hampson, Fen Osler, Managing Global Chaos: Sources of and Responses to International Conflict.
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