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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 1 .

War and Peace in Southern African
Edited by Robert I Rotberg & Gregg Mills

(Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution Press, 1998)
296pp. Index. $42.95; ISBN 0-8157-7584-9. Pb.: ISBN 0-8157-7585-7.

The edited volume consists of a number of chapters which address the topics listed in the sub-title. Two chapters deal with the phenomenon of crime within South Africa, two focus on the small arms proliferation and trafficking within the region, one each on the topics of illegal immigration and regional economic development, two on the regional and international dynamics and the drugs trade and, three on military matters.

While the last three, dealing with the institutional innovation of the South African military, and with continental and regional peacekeeping and peace enforcement, are closely related to the larger topic of the title of the book, that is, war and peace. The other chapters are less obviously so. Violent crime, illegal trade (in people, weapons, drugs, cars, etc.) and economic underdevelopment (vividly displayed in statistics on poverty and unemployment) all bear on political instability and social decay. But to accept these as part and parcel of a larger process of war and peace requires explicit argumentation, which ultimately, must bear on a theoretical perspective on war and peace. This is lacking from the editors, and from individual contributors.

The chapters provide good, and at times excellent, descriptive surveys of the topics they address. The more interest5ing contributions, however, are those who venture, even if only implicitly, into offering theoretical interpretations of their findings. Mark Shaw, for instance, assesses the rise in crime within the broader process of democratic transition. On a micro level, Wardop (crime in Soweto) finds the impetus towards crime not only to be a function of financial motivation, but also relates it to matters of status, identity and power. Likewise, Jacklyn Cooks calls for the culture of violence to be dealt with through a "...complicated process of recasting social relations," (p. 106). On a more macro-level, Herbst links the prospects "African solutions to African problems" to the phenomenon of state failure and collapse and the prospect of redrawing state boundaries in Africa (p. 245). Finally, Mark Malan considers the prospects for peacemaking against the prevailing attitudes within the international community.

All these contributions, taken together then pose the question of whether a comprehensive theoretical explanation for the events of civil and political instability in the new democracies of Southern Africa can be found?,p>

Pierre du Toit,
Stellenbosch University

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