Using Force to Prevent Violence: An Evaluation of Theory and Practice

Article excerpt

David Carment and Frank Harvey

Westport CT and London: Praeger, 2001, x, 179pp, US$55.00, ISBN 0-275-96979-7

Using Force to Prevent Violence builds on quantitative analysis and case studies of Bosnia and Kosovo to evaluate the circumstances that enable third parties - such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - to use coercive diplomacy successfully in the prevention, management, and resolution of ethnic conflict. David Carment and Frank Harvey employ empirical methods and test results against many cases, which renders their study of fairly general applicability in determining which set of conditions will enable certain forms of coercion to succeed in preventing or settling ethnic conflict. While readers with no particular interest in quantitative methods may find the central parts a bit hard going, the authors are sensitive to context and contingency, which sets them apart from many other adherents of rational conflict theory. The book's underlying assumptions are entirely reasonable and contradict the sloppy thinking that informs so many accounts of ethnic war - not just the notion that ethnic conflicts are irrational, but also the opposite idea that powerful security dilemmas eliminate human agency and political context and compel ethnic groups to fight, a situation that can only be resolved through the forced separation and transfer of such populations. …