Stopping Wars: Defining the Obstacles to Cease-fire

Stopping Wars: Defining the Obstacles to Cease-fire

Stopping Wars: Defining the Obstacles to Cease-fire

Stopping Wars: Defining the Obstacles to Cease-fire

Synopsis

The road from war to peace is a puzzling and uncertain one. To those who fight and die on it, it is seldom clear where the journey will end- and those responsible for finding the path are rarely more perceptive. Of the few signposts that exist, perhaps the most visible is the cease-fire. No war ends without one. Stopping Wars is the first attempt to catalog the reasons why some wars are so difficult to stop- even when both sides want the fighting to end. James Smith examines the problems encountered by protagonists as well as third parties attempting to achieve a cease-fire. Each chapter is devoted to a specific obstacle that Smith analyzes and then illustrates via in-depth case studies, drawing on such conflicts as the Iran/Iraq War, the Gulf War, and the Yugoslav wars. Smith assesses the role of third parties in trying to persuade people to stop fighting and examines what happens when obstacles to a cease-fire cannot be overcome.

Excerpt

If there is one requisite condition for stopping a war, it is that the people in charge must have some willingness to try and end it. Unless someone can force the warring parties to stop -- a difficult task, rarely attempted -- there will be no cease-fire until the belligerents themselves see it as a viable option. This is an obvious point. What is less obvious is what factors prevent consideration of the alternative in the first place. What this chapter intends to show is that in most cases, the major factor inhibiting a willingness to cease fire is a disagreement between belligerents over their relative bargaining power -- their ability to achieve their objectives -- and the likelihood of that bargaining power growing or diminishing with the passage of time. As we shall see, there are a number of things which reflect this tendency: belligerent concerns with the gains the enemy might make under a cease-fire, actual or expected victory, and actual or expected intervention, can all decrease interest in a cease-fire. in the final analysis, a willingness to cease fire requires both belligerents to agree on their respective bargaining positions, and those positions must be either very different (there is a clear winner) or relatively equal (there is a stalemate). Further to this, each belligerent must perceive that although its opponent might gain something by continuing the fight, its own power will not be increased, and that goals can now be achieved without violence. Finally, there must be a perception that the cease-fire will not decrease their own power in any major way. Provided that belligerents are not under pressures which lead them to believe that they either must or can not cease-fire, it is only under these conditions that belligerents will even consider ending the fighting.

Gaining the Upper Hand

War is a situation in which the resort to violence has been taken on the expectation that it will result in fresh bargaining power deemed necessary . . .

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