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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 2 .

The Costs of Conflict: Prevention and Cure in the Global Arena
Michael E. Brown & Richard N Rosencrance eds.

(Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield/Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, 1999)
278pp. Index. Hb.: 50.00; ISBN 0-8476-8893-3. Pb.: 21.95; ISBN 0-8476-8894-1.

This multi-author work represents yet another collection of disparate short synopses on recent contemporary conflicts. The editors have usefully divided the book up into classifications of failed preventions (Bosnia; Rwanda; Somalia; Haiti; the Persian Gulf), initial prevention (Macedonia and interestingly Slovakia), and mid-course prevention (Cambodia and El Salvador). The conclusion seems to be that earlier pre-emptive intervention would be less costly, primarily for the US. On this point alone, one could hardly disagree. Yet the "costs" of conflict are also very much about avoiding human casualties and injuries, and the eradication of hunger and poverty, as the recent response to the aftermath of the referendum result in East Timor amply demonstrates. This title would have benefited from more specific concentration on the "humanitarian" costs and consequences of not avoiding the escalation of conflicts at a much earlier stage. Then both dollars and lives would be saved in abundance.

Dr. Alan Bullion
The Open University

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