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Western Intervention in the Balkans: The Strategic Use of Emotion in Conflict (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics) Hardcover – September 30, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1107010666 ISBN-10: 1107010667

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Editorial Reviews


"In this important and provocative book, Roger Petersen demonstrates the enormous power that can be achieved through the strategic use of emotions, by carefully analyzing a series of high-stakes interventions in the Balkans. Instead of ignoring emotions, or writing them off as irrational aberrations, Petersen offers a powerful analytical road map that invites us to view specific emotions as crucial resources utilized by political entrepreneurs to achieve their objectives. Serving as a coherent alternative to bloodless and rationalistic reconstructions of conflict processes, Western Intervention in the Balkans constitutes a major theoretical breakthrough that is of immediate scholarly and practical relevance well beyond the region that it covers."
- Lars-Erik Cederman, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

"This superb account of the Serbian-Kosovo and other Yugoslav wars accomplishes three important goals. Its nuanced use of a game theoretical model of ethnic conflict shows that what has generally been lacking in such models is the fact that strong emotions by the participating ethnic groups trump material factors. Once contempt, fear, and hatred of groups in conflict have been firmly established, convincing them to respond to purely material incentives to resolve the conflict is fruitless. Secondly, it shows that because West European and American policy makers failed to grasp this they long pursued wrong strategies to end the conflicts. Finally, Petersen's book makes clear why the Bosnian and Kosovo situations remain unresolved despite an externally imposed, fragile peace. It is a wonderful book."
- Daniel Chirot, University of Washington

"Roger Petersen's book is an admirable and important effort to link the role of emotions with the study of strategic behavior in ethnic conflict. Such a careful linkage is long overdue, and this book is precise and cogent."
- Donald L. Horowitz, Duke University

"Roger Petersen unpacks the recent history of Western interventions in the Balkans to show how easily peace can be subverted by ethnic leaders who know how to appeal to anger, fear, guilt, shame, and resentment. Those who oppose peace use jujitsu-politics: they apply carefully calibrated violence to elicit a spiral of emotions and counter-violence that will bring them new fighters and new supporters. Petersen here extends rational choice theory to include emotions as resources no less important than money and guns; peacekeeping operations will never look the same after you've read this book."
- Clark McCauley, Bryn Mawr College

"Roger Petersen's new book offers a fascinating account of the politics of conflict intervention in the Western Balkans and beyond. Following up on his previous book on ethnic conflict and emotions, Petersen shows how different contemporary configurations of power and status and past histories of violence leave various emotional residues that can be strategically used to sabotage or enhance a peace or prevention plan. Rationally calculating international policy makers thus meet strategically operating local politicians who in turn play with the moods and memories of the population at large. A brilliant demonstration that taking emotions and their historical origins seriously does neither come at the prize of theoretical sophistication nor methodological rigor but can enhance both."
- Andreas Wimmer, University of California, Los Angeles

Book Description

This book integrates three different elements: 1) a theory of how political actors use emotions - fear, anger, resentment, contempt, hatred - as resources in conflict; 2) a history of ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia over the past twenty years; and 3) a study of Western, primarily U.S., intervention practices. It is the first book to treat emotions as resources systematically. The book is one of the most comprehensive and recent histories of the wars following the collapse of Yugoslavia. It criticizes U.S. intervention policy as being overly reliant on a "carrot-and-stick" approach.

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