Political Accommodation and Conflict Avoidance: Superpower Accord on the Neutral Status of States
Audrey Kurth Cronin
One alternative to traditional arms control between East and West is the neutralization of states by major powers. Neutralization can remove disputed states from the East-West conflict and accord them a status of perpetual neutrality, guaranteed by the major powers. In theory, neutralization transforms such a state or territory into a permanent buffer zone, ensuring the independence and territorial integrity of the state, inserting a geographical divider between enemies, and encouraging greater international stability.
Neutralization has a long history in the modern states system, and recent calls for its use as an elixir for international ills have demonstrated a resurgence of interest in the concept. The permanent, unified neutrality of nation-states like Austria and Switzerland seems a model solution for small states caught in conflicts between the incompatible interests of major powers. Since 1945 neutralization has been suggested as a solution for the unification of Germany, Korea, and (in the 1960s) Vietnam. It was briefly attempted in Laos in 1962, and unsuccessfully proposed for all of Southeast Asia by the Malaysians in 1970. Neutralization of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has been intermittently suggested as part of a solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute (though the upsurge of Palestinian nationalism in 1988-89 has now cast doubt on its feasibility), and some commentators have envisioned setting up a neutralized Palestinian state. Recently the Soviet Union has proposed neutralization "on the