Summary of "Timing the De-Escalation of International Conflicts"

Summary of

Timing the De-Escalation of International Conflicts

Ed. by Louis Kreisberg and Stuart Thorson

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Timing the De-Escalation of International Conflicts, Louis Kreisberg and Stuart Thorson, eds., (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1991), 303 pp.

Timing the De-Escalation of International Conflicts is a collection of essays which explore the context, policies and strategies of effective conflict de-escalation.

Timing the De-Escalation of International Conflicts will be of interest to those who seek a better understanding of the preconditions for effective conflict de-escalation and resolution. This work is divided into eleven essays grouped in three parts, with an Introduction by Kreisberg. Kreisberg explains the concepts of timing and de-escalation, and raises the three major questions which serve as a theme for the following essays: What conditions are conducive to de-escalation? What are effective strategies for pursuing de-escalation? What are the implications of a policy of de-escalation?

The essays of Part One explore the context for de-escalation. P. Terrence Hopmann examines the impact of the greater international environment on the resolution of international conflicts. Although the relationship is complex, Hopmann draws four practical conclusions. Indar JitRikhye describes the critical factors in determining the suitability of settlement efforts made by the United Nations Secretary General. He draws upon the Cuban Missile Crisis as a case study, to suggest general rules which should apply to the practice of UN good offices. Richard Haass examines the case of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), describing intrinsic and extrinsic factors which promoted de-escalation in that case. Jo Husbands examines domestic factors influencing de-escalation initiatives. Domestic factors described include the political system, public opinion, and the activities of special interest groups.

Part Two describes strategies for de-escalation. Roger Hurwitz offers a practical theory of de-escalation. He argues that A de-escalation is sustained by changes in how parties in conflict define their relationship.@[147] William Zartman and Johannes Aurik discuss uses of power strategies, such as threats, warnings and promises, in de-escalation. They argue that threats are only indirectly useful in promoting de-escalation, while positive inducements are essential for effective de-escalation. Juergen Dedring examines the strategies used by the superpowers in their efforts to de-escalate the 1982-4 war in Beirut. John McDonald describes the various tracks of multi-track diplomacy. He focuses on Track Two diplomacy, and offers practical guidelines for Track Two diplomats. Ralph Earle II assesses the advantages and disadvantages of private settlement interventions in public controversies. He concludes that private negotiations have some limited usefulness, but must be clearly distinguished from official authorities.

The authors in Part Three offer conclusions regarding the conditions for, strategies and implications of de-escalation. Jeffrey Rubin distills some general conditions which contribute to the ripeness of a conflict for de-escalation. He argues that timing is not merely an abstract theoretical concept, but is a key experience of disputants. James Bennett, Goodwin Cooke and Stuart Thorson describe directions for future research on timing in conflict resolution. Effective research must be attentive to the actual practice of de-escalation. In their epilogue the editors discuss the 1991 Persian Gulf War. They conclude that the escalation of the Gulf War was important in establishing the conditions for later de-escalation which promises Amore just and enduring outcomes.@=[273].

Timing the De-Escalation of International Conflicts explores the preconditions for effective negotiations.