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Lessons in How Not to Fight a War


Ali Ahmed

THE NEW PROTECTORATES: INTERNATIONAL TUTELAGE AND THE MAKING OF LIBERAL STATES
Edited by James Mayall , Ricardo Soares de Oliveira
C Hurst & Co., London, 2011, pp.375,

VORTEX OF CONFLICT: US POLICY TOWARD AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN AND IRAQ
By D. Caldwell
Cambridge University Press,Cambridge, 2011 (First South Asian Edition 2012), pp. 389, Rs.995.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 9 SEPTEMBER 2012

The volume edited by Mayall and Oliveira emerged out of two conferences in 2006 and 2007 at which papers by a galaxy of theorists and a few practitioners were refined. Finally put together in 2010, it is a meaningful contribution to the evolving field of peace studies. It deals with the significant theme of peace building. The overall verdict in the book is that even if the concept of putting broken societies back together again is laudable, its materialization in practice leaves much to be desired. This owes in part to the problems of turning societies around into pale images of the western models and the politics intrinsic in the exercise detracting from any good intentions there may have been behind the exercise in the first place. The book is therefore a useful criticism of reconstruction in its visualization and practice, best encapsulated by its title: ‘New Protectorates’. The book is organized in two parts: Part I situates the concept of peace building, fashionable in the mid-2000s, in the historical setting as it evolved conceptually in Europe and practically in Africa. The context is provided by the system of protectorates and mandates at the turn of the last century and under the League. It then brings the story up to date by dwelling on perspectives of the US and Europe and emerging powers such as China and India. The impetus to the concept in the US is seen in the legacy of US expansion into Latin America and across the Pacific. The Chinese interest in the concept is discerned in the need of that authoritarian State to ‘belong’ to the international comity. Indian participation is revealed as reluctant owing to wanting to be counted among the reckonable powers, even while holding out for that recognition. Part II deals with governance of societies in international humanitarian crosshairs. The logic of peace operations is revealingly dissected in a chapter with the thesis that these failures are due to the inherent tension between what is politically feasible and what is administratively desirable. The UN is at the same time a multilateral institution and an international bureaucracy. The outcome is ‘organized hypocrisy’ with States adopting an ‘as if’ style of policy in which ‘the official commitment to UN peace operations is eclipsed by both the interest in low-cost, low-performance operations and the interest in ignorance about performance in the first place’ (p. 181). Given this, the chapter ...


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