Arie Kacowicz, Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, Ole Elgstrom, Magnus Jerneck, eds. Stable Peace Among Nations. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000. vii + 326 pp. $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7425-0180-5; $114.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7425-0179-9.
Reviewed by Wyatt A. Reader (Political Science, California Community Colleges)
Published on H-Diplo (August, 2002)
Decades ago, long before the articles that make up this volume were written, another generation of students and aspiring practitioners studied and discussed the same intellectual sources as these authors. Among these was this reviewer, who now finds this chance to review a very cogent and thoughtful book. Arie Kacowicz and Yaacov Tov have assembled in their volume another effort to develop a theory of peace--not just peace but a stable peace, whose lasting benefits and characteristics are far more likely to give men and women opportunities for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Reviewing this work, a product of those more well known in the study of international relations, is a little like attempting to define one's own universe. For those less versed in the subject matter, some or much of the material presented may be new or seem like new ground. Karl Deutsch and Kenneth Boulding, to whom this current volume's contributors owe intellectual groundings, provide the baseline for these authors now taking their own rightful places in searching for a meaningful theory of peaceful relations in international life. Several of the authors acknowledge the debt owed to both.
The book is made up of papers given at a series of conferences in Europe and Israel. Taken together, the articles constitute a marvelously straightforward book and plan for an explanation of the history of international life. This book is divided into two parts; the first focuses upon theory, while the second illustrates the theory in a series of five case studies, and a final chapter is devoted to summation of the theory and the cases as a whole.
In the first half of this book, nine chapters examine various aspects of a theory of stable peace. In the introduction, the authors give us their volume plan and organization, along with a brief overview of each chapter and each author's own contributions to the theory. They then go on to pursue four research questions: what is the nature of stable peace; why and how do stable peace come into existence; what conditions are required to sustain stable peace over time; and what are the implications of this theory for foreign policy? These form the basis of this study through the application of a comparative historical method.
Anyone looking for a quick overview of this volume should reference the introduction and chapter 1 by Kacowicz and Tov. They give an easily read, general presentation of how these cases and their theory fit together. Delving further into the works and researches published, there is an attempt to explain Egypt-Israel relations as a model and an expanded fourfold model to peace: adversarial, restricted, rapprochement, and cooperative. These can be understood as a linear dimension reaching from precarious peace to conditional and, finally, stable peace. In chapter 2, J. D. Hagen examines the 1815-1854 Concert of Europe, for aspects of stable peace in international life with specific attention to the role domestic political conditions play within peaceful states. The essential characteristic for stable peace to exist, he claims, is the presence in each of the "key powers" of "moderate rulers", such as those who constituted the Concert during those years. Obtaining power over the society and government of each state, gives Hagen the basis for a stable peace. Moderate leaders and groups, as he shows, prevailed in the Concert of Europe. Revolutionary leaders such as Napoleon tend to upset this stable peace; therefore, Hagen turns to domestic political conditions within states to explain why such peace occurs.
Chapter 3 turns attention toward regional explanations for stable peace, although the author, Benjamin Miller, continues to recognize domestic sources, particularly the role of democracy, in bringing about peace. "Moderation in the domestic situation" is a required condition, since stability "avoids extremes," very much like Aristotle's doctrine of the golden mean (p. 43). Like chapter 2, it points to the need of moderate domestic situations for stable peace to be realizable, while raising questions of instability which, as Miller demonstrates, develop from domestic political groups and individuals who could be recognized as "moderate" in the conduct of their political and historical lives. Ultimately for the author, normative arrangements at the regional level serve as a more significant basis for stable peace than the international level of relations. This implies, international law should be seen not only as a focus of research but also as a means of understanding relations between peoples.
Chapter 4 is a discussion of the importance to common identity among groups and peoples. This factor was clearly in play during the era of the Concert of Europe after the defeat of Napoleonic France. It is this quality of "sameness" which allows members to identify as enemies those who do not belong in the commonality of political life. This aspect allows stable peace to exist, whether it be democracy in the present day or (in the case of the Concert) commonality to aristocracy for the principle basis to society, as well as to international life.
Raimo Vayrynen follows with a discussion of security communities, very much in the intellectual tradition of Karl Deutsch, whose work several decades ago, put pluralistic security communities into the vocabulary of political science both as an analytic tool and as a model for stable peace. Magnus Ericson discusses the need for more case studies in Chapter 7 while presenting his own views along the explicit line of Kenneth Boulding¹s analysis and theory from previous decades. Ericson includes a brief discussion of Richard Rosecance¹s 1986 work on trading states and his comparison of these with military states.
Chapter 8 takes a slightly different approach, exploring the Schumann Plan in Europe with its development and management of the European Coal and Steel Community. Here the author stresses the importance of regional self-reliance on an economic basis--i.e., trade, commercial institutions, and the elimination of trade barriers--as another important basis for stable peace. Business conducted within a region provides a basis for peace, while trade will suffer in conditions of instability.
The final five chapters examine developments of stable peace in five particular cases--for example, Sweden's relations with its neighbors, German-Polish relations after 1945, and relations between Israel and Egypt. Each of these peaceful communities is discussed as an example of stable peace in practice. Finally, the closing chapter by Ole Elgstrom and Magnus Jerneck summarizes general conclusions about stable peace and the theory.
Of the various chapters, this reviewer found chapter 5 on the "Cognitive Dimension," by Rikard Bengtsson, the most interesting. In speaking about trust and confidence as a base for stable peace, Bengtsson explores the role of intelligence as a human condition for peaceful relations. Bengtsson cites Boulding, thereby offering emphasis on the economic aspects of theory, while using the Baltic Sea area and its Council as an example of multiple factors in stable peace, i.e. trust, knowledge, socialization and learning. Cognitive learning, in this reviewer's opinion, should provide a very rich source for future intellectual study and research both as a historical focus and as a political concern. This nugget seems to me to be an important one in the theory of stable peace. As a concern for the policy analyst, potential predictive values should not be overlooked. For the historian, it represents another example of how history can and does retain its value as a means of finding explanations for social and international life.
While the volume sometimes seems abstract in its exploration of theory, it does make a substantive contribution to longstanding concerns of political theory and historical method. By providing this worthwhile attempt at bridging academic practices that divide professional approaches, the book constitutes an eloquent answer to those practitioners and political scientists who might consider historical study irrelevant. The use of case studies demonstrates effectively that history has a role to play in explaining and understanding not only international relations but also day-to-day concerns of practitioners. It does not attempt any ultimate questions about whether there should be a science to politics. This more disciplined focus, with its brevity and method, gives substantial support to the practice of scientific method and its relevance in approaching politics and history. By exploring not only history but theory through means of an inductive method, by linking empirical research to the attempt to develop a theory to explain peace, an important foundational stone has been placed in attempts to build a larger theory of history in international relations and political meaning.
If the volume has a weakness, it is likely to be found in the contributors' reliance upon economics and economic theory as a basis for international life and history. However economic factors are never given the place of sole determinant. In fact, the volume explicitly rejects such a method, relying instead upon a more disciplined and inclusive understanding. Stable peace comes from multiple causes and dynamics rather than merely economic forces.
The book's brevity might also be considered a weakness, as it is only three hundred pages, including an excellent bibliographical section. The case studies frequently are short of historical detail. However, this may be forgiven in a work devoted not to an encyclopedic account of international history, but rather to identifying those factors that can lead to a peaceful world.
Stable Peace Among Nations provides a guide to future and further researches for the practicing professional. It serves as a short, well-organized guide to international relations for the beginning student. With some supplementary materials, this volume would be an excellent text for organizing and studying IR at the undergraduate level. For the graduate student aspiring to a career in history or political science, this volume provides a substantive basis for making the transition to practice as a professional. For those seeking a career in the foreign service, the volume should whet the appetite to demonstrate hands-on applications of theory in future cases of diplomacy and relations.
This book and its authors have placed before us a solid contribution to both political science and history. It does not purport to be the final answer to all questions about peace, but it does give those who would mine its nuggets and quarry the constructive dimensions excellent tools for pursuing their own interests and researches into a more stable and peaceful world.
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Wyatt A. Reader. Review of Kacowicz, Arie; Bar-Siman-Tov, Yaacov; Elgstrom, Ole; Jerneck, Magnus, eds., Stable Peace Among Nations.
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