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Politics of Peace making

Page history last edited by Peace Studies 15 years, 9 months ago

FrontPage     Resources     Concepts:Themes


Kegley Jnr, C.W. and Raymond, G.A. (1999) How Nations Make Peace, New York: St Martins Press and Worth Publishers.



At the heart of liberal theorizing about issues of war and peace is the contention that an unbridled pursuit of national self-interest is destructive. Rather than emphasizing self-help, liberalism ‘seeks to discover ways in which separate actors, with distinct interests, can organize themselves to promote economic efficiency and avoid destructive physical conflict, without renouncing either the economic or political freedoms that liberals hold dear’ (Keohone 1992, p.174). Power, for liberals, resides in adhering to ethical principles. For them ‘international behavior and outcomes arise from a multiplicity of motives, not merely security, at least if security is defined solely in military or strategic terms’ (Holsti 1995, p.44). Following a war, liberal theory counsels against approaching peace making from a zero-sum outlook that permits the winner to extract the greatest possible gains at the loser’s expense, stressing the principle of reciprocity that is predicated on the expectation that behavior sent will be returned in kind. To maximize the prospects for enduring peace, liberal theorists reason that harsh punishments and staggering penalties will backfire, while clemency and compassion will produce cooperation and compliance. [p.21]



For realists, liberal dreams of peace through conciliation ignore the nasty, brutish facts of international life: The strong dominate the weak, the powerful take advantage of the powerless, and relations between former enemies are determined more by the military might each possesses than by principled concern for each other’s security and status. … Realism believes power trumps principles. To the realist, the road to ruin is paved with utopian hopes about the good will of others or the applicability of morality to the ruthless struggle for power in international relations among [p.22] rival nations seeking self-advantage: ‘States … should not be held to the same moral standards as individuals because to do so subverts their capacity to conduct prudent policy’ (Monoson and Loriaux 1998, p.288). From this realist ethical posture, peace settlements should not be grounded in expectations that an adversary will reciprocate kindness, because defeated states are likely to interpret generosity as weakness and use lenient treaties as an opportunity to resume the pursuit of power. Apprehensive over the possibility that an indignant loser will try to avenge its battlefield humiliation, realists recommend firm settlements as the only reliable method of maintaining postwar peace. [p.23]


…. Liberalism and realism, the two most common theoretical lenses policymakers use when inspecting the political topography of the postwar world, advance diametrically opposed recommendations. Policymakers need a theory backed by evidence that answers the questions of how nations should make peace. Which theory – liberalism or realism – offers the strongest basis for developing policy prescriptions to guide peace making in the wake of war? [p.23]


Moral Principles and Policy Prescriptions for the Resolution of Armed Conflict

... Mirror imaging, the propensity of each side in a conflict to see in its own actions only rectitude and in those of the adversary only malice, reduces the prospects for leniency by the winner and acquiesence by the loser. In such an atmosphere of mutual distrust, victors face difficult choices in sorting out short-term desires from long-term interests. What they want may not be what they need.  Even from an advantaged position in which the enemy surrendered unconditionally, the victor must still decide what kind of peace agreement would enhance security. Should the peace be lenient or punitive? Can it combine elements of conciliation with retribution? How will the prostrate enemy respond? What countermoves are likely once the loser recovers from defeat? Military triumph solves certain problems but creates new ones. ...


Given the far-reaching repercussions that result from how victors deal with the defeated, what steps can be taken to solidify a durable peace settlement? ...


Prescription 1: Military strategy in war fighting should be coordinated with the political strategy for peace making.

At the root of the danger is the difficulty of separating military objectives from basic national goals. Although people tend to see a country's foreign policy as the product of a single calculating intelligence, in fact most governments are amalgams of large, semiautonomous bureaucratic organizations that have their own interests and hold different conceptions of national security. Since policy is often formulated by a small group of senior officials, each of whom may occupy a leadership position within one of these organizations, it can be difficult to orchestrate words and deeds in a coherent program that will be implemented faithfully by subordinates. Fearing that bureaucratic politics [p.231] contaminate military decisions, the armed forces sometimes are given substantial leeway in shaping the conduct of the war. Yet when crucial military and political decisions are compartmentalized, battlefield triumphs may not advance political aims. ...

... The purpose of coordinating political and military strategy is to ensure that the process of war termination facilitates postwar peace building. Although political leaders decide war aims, they must avoid the temptation to micromanage the war effort and never lose sight of their responsibility for seeing that military action should service the political goal of making peace. [p.234]


Prescription 2: Planning for the postwar era must begin early.

Unfortunately ... postwar policies rarely emerge from deliberative plans; they unfold incrementally through a tyranny of small decisions, owing more to impulse than design. Lacking a grand strategy for the world of their making, victors usually improvise and muddle through the immediate aftermath of war. ...

To prevent policy drift, victors need to project what is likely to occur at the end of the war, anticipate the potential obstacles to a lasting peace settlement, and design a plan for surmounting them. Planning means forecasting the range of plausible futures, setting clear goals for attaining a specific desired future, and recommending actions for realizing that future. The sooner a formal attempt is undertaken to accomplish these tasks, the greater the chances that decisionmakers will be alerted to peace-making opportunities they might otherwise miss. [p.233]


Prescription 3: Prepare the public for the transition from war to peace.

Nationalistic fervor, so important for mobilizing the population for war, can become an obstacle to concluding a reasonable peace. Political leaders frequently stoke the fires of xenophobia on the home front to encourage sacrifice in the war effort. [p.233] ...

... Accentuating a diabolical image of the enemy may rally the populace when morale is low, but it will distort the peace settlement unless public expectations regarding the fruits of victory are attentuated before the fighting halts. Praise for an opponents valor, differentiating between those who fought with honor and those who committed war crimes, and reminding one's own citizens of the plight of victims on both sides are critical in reversing the effects of wartime propaganda that denigrates the enemy's character. [p.235]


Prescription 4: Victors should not ignore the passion for vengeance.

The need for vengeance derives from powerful emotions that peacemakers ignore at great risk. It generally arises in the aftermath of premeditated campaigns of aggression that violate international humanitarian norms, such as those undertaken by the Axis powers in World War II. If the victims of these campaigns believe that wrongdoers failed to receive their just desserts, a sense of closure is never reached and private acts of retaliation are likely to follow. Evil must be condemned and its perpetrators held responsible for their appalling deeds. The issue for victors is not whether angry emotions that demand punishment for wrongs are irrational and therefore inapproriate for consideration when crafting a peace settlement, but rather when and how it is reasonable to satisfy these demands. [p.235]


Prescription 5: Avoid taking revenge, but seek retributive punishment for the culpably guilty.

To assert that a passion for vengeance is sometimes warranted is not to advocate wanton vindictiveness. Unrestrained vengeance has the potential to degenerate into an endless blood feud. ...


Retribution lacks the resentful, vindictive spirit of revenge; it avenges a moral transgression dispassionately, without personal rancour. ... Retributive justice attempts to halt this escalatory momentum by taking jural-like activity out of private hands, distinguishing between crimes and their punishment, and placing limits on the penalties wrongdoers pay.

Two basic schools of thought exist on the nature of retributive justice. The maximalist school, represented by Immanuel Kant, holds that there is a duty to punish anyone who is guilty and culpable for wrongdoing and that the punishment should be equal to the seriousness of the offense. Minimalism, the second school of thought, also expresses moral indignation over the behavior of the culpable. However, it asserts that punishment should be relative to the [p.236] seriousness of the offense and, unlike in a strict liability system, allows for mitigating circumstances that can partially or completely absolve the offender.


For victors seeking adurable peace, a minimalist conception of retributive justice offers several important benefits. First, by holding specific individuals accountable for any war crimes or crimes against humanity that they may have committed, it defuses the possibility that charges of collective guilt will be leveled against an entire defeated nation, as happened to germany following World War I. Second, avoiding collective condemnation facilitates the normalization of relations between victor and vanquished after the war. Third, by showing that international humanitarian law cannot be violated without impunity, it helps those who were victimized bring closure to the experience. Finally, by eschewing revenge in favor of retributive justice through a fair and impartial judicial process (ideally through an international tribunal), reconciliation and the pursuit of restorative justice can begin. [p.237]


Prescription 6:  Victors should forgive the forgivable, but not forget.

Reconciliation is a process of developing a mutually conciliatory accommodation between former enemies. It is a dynamic, sequential process that requires actions by those who have suffered wrongs as well as by those who have committed them. The former consists of forgiving; the latter, apologizing. [p.237]


Prescription 7: A dictated peace is a precarious peace; victors should involve the vanquished in settlement negotiations. [p.238]

... victors in search of a durable peace settlement should apply the Golden Rule to diplomacy, treating the vanquished the way they would wish themselves to be treated were they in the same position. So long as one is not dealing with an utterly ruthless, depraved opponent, restraint and a readiness for conciliation can evoke gratitude and set in motion a positive spiral of tension-reducing reciprocation. Victors who couple firmness regarding their their own interests with fairness towards the interests of others encourage defeated powers to work within the postwar system. Nowhere is this more important than in resolving outstanding territorial issues. A fair disposition of territorial claims, coupled with simple, unambiguous, and prominent lines of demarcation, are critical to building a lasting peace. [p.239]


Prescription 8: Beware of allies whose interest in the peace negotiations centers on gaining the spoils of victory. [p.239]

With victory in sight, aggressively self-interested members of large wartime coalitions will likely be tempted by the chance for booty and begin jockeying for a peace settlement that furthers their own selfish aims. At this point it is crucial for those states with aspirations of building a durable peace settlement to use the waning days of the war to unite behind a collective peace plan. If major issues are left unresolved until a formal peace conference, the most determined ally will end up in possession of important assets which then can be removed only through a perilous confrontation. [p.240]


Prescription 9: Victors should be prepared to use military force after the war ends.

The durability of a peace settlement hinges on the [p.240] victor's ability to (1) anticipate how dissatisfied parties may challenge new security arrangements and (2) develop effective contingency plans for arresting these challenges. ... Conciliation is unlikely to succeed without the backing of a credible deterrent. [p.241]


Prescription 10: The vanquished have responsibilities in making peace. [p.241]

Defeated nations are always in poor bargaining positions. Yet they are not without power. In certain circumstances, a principled posture by accommodationists within the defeated country can influence how victors behave once the fighting ends. [p.242]


From Just War to Just Peace [p.243]


Peace agreements encapsulated by by a web of collaborative, partner-specific norms of prudence are more resilient than those lacking normative support, because international norms add predictability to future relations by communicating the scope of each state's entitlements, the extent of its obligations, and the range of its jurisdiction. Liberals and realists agree that postwar diplomacy cannot be divorced from the normative climate in which it occurs. If victors do not reinforce international norms that buttress the war termination agreements they sign, the vanquished will attempt to establish alternative norms that can be used to undermine the peace settlement. [p.248]

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