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Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide Hardcover – September 15, 2011
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"Winning the War on War reveals the greatest untold story of the past two decades-that contrary to popular impressions, war has become substantially rarer and less dangerous... This book could change the understanding of policy makers, opinion leaders, and a wide readership."
-Steven Pinker, professor of psychology, Harvard College; author of the bestseller The Blank Slate
"Goldstein's argument that we're actually beating back war seems counterintuitive, but he marshals some impressive arguments..." -- Library Journal
"A surprising study that suggests warfare is decreasing ... Optimistic, useful history of diplomacy as counterweight to brutality." -- Kirkus Reviews
"An optimistic, if controversial, assessment by a respected anti-war advocate." -- Publishers Weekly
"Professor Goldstein has written a novel, highly informative, and exceedingly valuable book." -- David Hamburg, President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York; former president, AAAS
"A highly readable account of the nature and problems of peacekeeping, ... an important contribution to public understanding of international affairs." -- Brian Urquhart, Former Undersecretary-General of the UN; author of Ralph Bunche: An American Life and Hammarskjöld
"Does what no other book has attempted, providing a synoptic view, and narrative, of the slow but successful evolution of UN peacekeeping. It takes an unusual and unorthodox approach that works very well indeed." -- Paul Kennedy, Professor of History, Yale University and author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.
From the Inside Flap
The astounding truth: peacekeeping is working
Preeminent scholar of international relations, Joshua Goldstein, tears down one of the greatest myths of modern history. Despite all the hand wringing, fear mongering, and bad-news headlines, peace is on the rise. Fewer wars are starting, more are ending, and those that remain are smaller and more localized than in past years. Incredibly, no national armies are still fighting each other--all today's wars are civil wars. This worldwide decline in armed conflict is crucially important for America's shift from a decade of war to an era of lower military budgets and operations.
Goldstein's groundbreaking analysis of the empirical evidence is convincing, but the real power of his argument lies in the accounts of experiences on the violent frontlines where peace must actually be put into effect. His vivid "boots on the ground" account shows how today's successes in building peace grow out of decades of effort and sacrifice by ordinary and extraordinary people working through international organizations, humanitarian aid agencies, and popular movements around the world. At the center of this drama is the United Nations and its sixty-year experiment in peacekeeping - overwhelmingly supported by American public opinion - which is making a measurable difference in reducing violence in our time.
Taking us from his own sleepless night in Beirut as shells landed in nearby streets, to the agonizing failures of the international community in Bosnia and Rwanda, to the recent triumphs of peacekeeping in West Africa, Goldstein tells the most exciting and important untold global story of our age. He shows how large-scale looting, sexual assault, and atrocities are being stopped, and how we can continue building on these hopeful and inspiring achievements to keep winning the war on war.
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This book was recommended by Gregg Easterbrook in one of his TMQ columns. He steered me into some other good nonfiction finds in the past. This one wasn't as good, but it is good to know, and to sum it up, the best way to end wars, civil and otherwise, is to put a force between the sides and disarm them. The UN has actually done this a number of times and it was the only thing that stopped conflicts in trouble-prone regions. We mostly hear now about the problems peacekeepers cause - I heard on the radio today complaints about pregnancies, rapes, and violence - but they are our only hope for places like Syria, the Congo, and Central America. Because of the politics of the US and the Republicans/conservatives, who want to keep the UN dysfunctional by underfunding it so they can complain about it, things never get done as well as they should. A few billion to the UN now may save us 500 billion in the future. Unfortunately, there are people who love to fight in this world, and they tend to get themselves in charge of things, but most people will only fight if it is the only option and they are happy to put their guns down and go home if they have better opportunities there. The key to ending war is to make them see this option and then make it happen. Rebuilding a place like Syria if people ever stop shooting, should give every able-bodied person left a job if things are handled well. Good luck with the last aspect of it; they will probably bring in cheap labor from elsewhere and everyone will be worse off.
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.
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.
Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
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.