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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have to admit that, like most people, I did not question the conventional wisdom that the world was going to hell in a hand basket, especially where war is concerned. Looking at Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other places where horrible event are taking place, it's not hard to see why.

Goldstein challenges that belief with data. In fact, that's one of his main points. As Jack Webb used to say on TV's Dragnet, "I want the facts, ma'am, just the facts." That's this book's mantra. Forget what you think you know, look at the facts, and then decide.

The book likens our situation to having jumped "out of the fire, into the frying pan." The frying pan is hot, so we tend not to notice that things are improving. It also notes that the media has a tendency to highlight the violence and bloodshed, so it's understandable that, based solely on our emotional reaction to the news, we think things have not improved.

The book is surprisingly well written for one of its genre -- meaning I am enjoying reading it not just for the hopeful message it conveys, but that it's also fun to read.

Highly recommended!

Martin Hellman
Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Every day, we turn on the news, and the world seems to be getting more and more violent. In his new book, Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide, Joshua S. Goldstein argues that, contrary to popular belief, armed conflict is actually decreasing around the world. The central theme of Winning the War on War is the role that the UN and its peacekeeping missions plays in this decline.

Goldstein first reviews the trends in war since 1945. In spite of an upswing in civil war in the early 1990s, there has been actually been a significant decline in both the number of wars and war-related deaths in the post-Cold War era. There were 1.5 million deaths in the Vietnam war, compared with 55,000 deaths during the Salvadoran civil war. Also missing are the large-scale, violent interstate wars, which have virtually disappeared from the world stage.

Although Goldstein acknowledges there are a variety of possible explanations for the decline in violent conflict, he attributes a large part of it to the development of the international community, specifically the UN and peacekeeping. While he admits that there are still many inadequacies in the UN's structure and ability to make policy, he places strong emphasis on its abilities to change war-making into peace-building. The second section of the books analyzes several stages of peacekeeping-from the early years when the invention of peacekeeping was still new to more recent missions and the improvements that have been made. Goldstein pays careful attention to the failures and successes in peacekeeping in the early 1990s, and argues that the UN has learned from its mistakes, allowing it to function more effectively in the realm of peacekeeping.

In the third section, Goldstein returns to his assertion that war is actually on the decline. He challenges common held beliefs, such as the argument that there are more civilian deaths in war than there were 100 years ago-a belief he argues came to be held by most people due to an error in the preparation of the UN's Human Development Report 1994. Goldstein also discusses what types of war we are facing now, namely civil war, and devotes some time to explaining the causes of both the onset and the termination of civil war. Goldstein ends with a chapter on how to continue with this decline in war by investing in the UN, and focusing our future efforts on war prevention, diplomacy, and peacekeeping.

This book provides an excellent overview of the most relevant studies and prominent theories in the field of peace politics. It is a must-read for anyone interested in war and peace studies, who may also want to check out his related article in the most recent issue of Foreign Policy, "Think Again: War."

Bruce A. Roth, Executive Director
Daisy Alliance
Author of "No Time To Kill"
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
If you are like me you are always looking for something positive to keep going, to keep hope alive. In my ever widening search I came across Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide the subject of this book review. Old lefty Joshua S. Goldstein paradigm-altering well -researched study suggests that things are not as bleak as those on the right and left have led us to believe.
This is not a sing Kumbaya - New Age -all is unfolding as the universe intended - book. Goldstein points out that in his opinion there is nothing particularly nonviolent in human psychology or physiology. He also believes that there is no great nonviolent evolutionary process at work. The progress toward a more peaceful world is demonstrably uneven and fragile. However, his well-written book (which works as a survey course on war and peace) points out what works and how we should strengthen those things that work. The most effective instrument of peace is the United Nations.
As I read Goldstein's narrative I was struck about how both main stream media and the right only reports peace keeping failures. If it bleeds it leads is the rule for local and international news. Peaceful successes don't get noticed.
With almost no support from the United States, Goldstein argues that UN peace keeping efforts - often eviscerated and almost always inefficient - are the main cause in the effect of a more peaceful world.
His book can be heavy going. Interspersed throughout Goldstein's book is the tragic story of rape as a weapon in war. Sadly violence against women is as old as war itself and rape has long been a means of destroying the social fabric of perceived enemies. Happily, Goldstein also chronicles the powerful and increasing role of women in bringing peace to war torn regions.
Two examples: For decades, in the oil rich Niger Delta armed groups of men battled the oil companies to stop their predation. Sick of the violence by both sides women began nonviolent protests and direct negotiation. And in 2009 measurable progress began to be seen on the ground.
In the largely nonviolent transformation of South Africa's apartheid society usually focuses on the heroic work of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. However, research shows that in community after community it was women who made the difference in effecting reconciliation.
Even if you don't buy his thesis on the United Nations Goldstein's book should be read for its many nonviolent heroes . Among them is Ralph Bunche, a life long educator and career diplomat. Bunche was the first in his family to go to college, the first African American to earn a Phd in political science and the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in bringing an end to the first Israeli - Arab league war in 1950.
Another soldier for peace is USC professor Gerald (Jerry) Bender a self described " licensed lunatic". While working in Angola to bring peace Bender blew the whistle on the CIA's secret war in Angola under Reagan. His report to congress led to the end of funding for the Agency's destabilizing operations allowing the UN peace keepers to help bring peace to Angola.
Finally, there is peace's heroic martyrs: Count Bernadotte - assassinated by an Israeli fanatic in 1948 and Dag Hammarskjöld - who died in a fiery plane crash in Rhodesia in 1961 - to name two of the more famous martyrs for peace.
I whole heartedly recommend Winning the War on War. I downloaded the book in minutes on Kindle app for 12.99. I also endorse Goldstein's call to fully embrace the UN - especially the blue hat from some God-forsaken poor nation under-supported, under- trained, scared out of his mind standing between warring factions. At the minimum we should educate ourselves on the many, many people who have brought peace or attempt to bring peace often at the cost of their own lives. There a lot more out there fighting the good fight than we know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I never would have believed it if I hadn't read the facts. Dr. Goldstein makes a very convincing and well researched argument about the decline in violence world wide. I had the chance to hear him at a Symposium for World Peace at Sivananda Yoga Retreat Ashram and knew that I needed to read more. What a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Goldstein not only demonstrates in excellent detail the decline of armed conflict, but also argues convincingly why, among several causal factors, the role of United Nations peacekeeping has been crucial.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Joshua Goldstein has made an enlightening case for the decline of violence in the world. Quite often our viewpoint is obscured by the glamorization of armed conflict as events instead of the pattern. He identifies the stakeholders in the sensationalization of armed conflict. Also, there is empirical data to demonstrate that international collaboration, world-wide news coverage and peacekeeping troops can reduce and eliminate forms of armed conflict. I am not a pacifist, but I can clearly read the reduction in armed conflict through the armed competent peacekeepers.

A brief history of mankind and armed conflict was captured, where I realized how peace in the world is not newsworthy. For example, crime has decrease nationwide, yet crime incidences are always the lead story in local news. Many benevolent international organizations have a stake is the glamorization of armed conflict.

Goldstien also make the case for the US to become more involved in more international collaboration.

This is a very insightful book and it makes me very hopeful for the future of mankind. There are alternatives to war and armed conflict.
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on September 30, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is for a college class. It showed up right on time and the price was way better than the school book store.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Mostly, this book was a great read and very informative, except that it didn't seem to include Latin America in most of its "worldwide" assessments. It's a big place... maybe take a look at it sometime?
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0 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
This work is strictly an opinion piece which is designed to support the candidacy of president obama. It is definately not worth your time or money
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