Summary of "International Conflict Resolution: The US-USSR and Middle East Cases"

Summary of

International Conflict Resolution: The US-USSR and Middle East Cases

By Louis Kriesberg

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Kriesberg, Louis. International Conflict Resolution: The U.S.-U.S.S.R. and Middle East Cases. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1992, 275 pp.

International Conflict Resolution presents an analysis of international conflict de-escalation and negotiation by investigating Arab-Israeli and U.S.-USSR de-escalation efforts.

International Conflict Resolution will be of interest to those who seek to understand the history of conflict de-escalation during the Cold War, and in the Middle East. This work is divided into nine chapters with an epilogue.

Chapter One presents an overview of de-escalation and peace-making strategies. Three theoretical approaches to international conflict are describes: statism, pluralism and populism. The author argues that win-win solutions are possible in international conflicts, and that effective conflict resolution will rely on the use of persuasion and positive sanctions. Chapter Two then examines U.S.- USSR relations and Middle East cases. De-escalation efforts in each case are examined and contrasted. Chapter Three argues that de-escalation generally occurs because takes the initiative and begins the conflict resolution process. Kriesberg presents chronologies of major U.S.-USSR, and Arab-Israeli de-escalation initiatives. Based on these chronologies, the author distinguishes four general de-escalation patterns. These patterns include multiple de-escalation initiatives, differing frequency of initiatives over the course of the conflict, and differing levels of activity among the various parties to the conflict. Chapter Four then seeks general explanations for the timing and causes of de-escalation initiatives. Kriesberg identifies three explanatory factors: domestic circumstances, international context, and the relations between the conflicting parties. The impact of each of these factors is explored in some detail, in regard to both the U.S.-USSR, and Arab-Israeli situations. While the interplay of these factors is too complex to permit one single de-escalation strategy, the author does explore the general implications for de-escalation of these factors.

Chapter Five discusses the process of starting negotiations. Many initiatives fail to spark negotiations. Kriesberg explores the ways in which the content, form and context of initiative can be more and less effective in promoting the move to negotiation, once again drawing upon U.S.-USSR, and Arab-Israeli cases. Important factors in bringing conflicting parties to the negotiation table include leadership, popular support for peace, quality of the adversaries relationship, and the presence of a conceptual framework which supports resolution. Chapter Six then investigated the negotiation process itself. The author evaluates various negotiated de-escalation agreements between the U.S. and USSR, and between Arabs and Israelis. Based on these cases the author suggests some general guidelines for producing effective negotiations. Chapter Seven focuses on the consequences of negotiated agreements; which agreements have resulted in lasting de-escalation? Drawing upon his case studies, Kriesberg argues that while implemented agreements tend to last, the consequences of such agreements vary. The variations and commonalties are summarized in the conclusion to the chapter.

Chapter Eight discusses the cumulative effects of five decades of peace-making efforts. The author draws on his earlier findings to explain why U.S. - Soviet relations improved, yet the Middle East remain very conflicted. The final chapter takes a broader view of U.S.-USSR, and Arab-Israeli relations. The author assesses the costs of such protracted conflicts. He evaluates the extent to which the conflict resolution perspective explains and accounts for actual occurrences, and suggests implication for future policy-making. Finally, the author explores the relation between conflict de-escalation and peace-making. In the Epilogue the author briefly analyses the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

International Conflict Resolution presents a thorough investigation of international conflict de-escalation initiatives and processes in the Middle East and during the Cold War. The text is clearly written, and numerous tables and chronologies make the historical record very accessible.