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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2001, Vol. 4 No. 1 .

Peace Operations Between War and Peace
Erwin Schmidl (ed.)

London: Frank Cass, 2000
184pp. Index. Hb.: £37.50; ISBN 0-7146-4989-9. Pb.: £16.50; ISBN 0-7146-8052-4.

This is a somewhat unusual collection of articles on peace operations. It contains a wide range of studies whose only common denominator is their focus on various aspects of peacekeeping, enforcement, or other forms of peace operations. The introductory overview by Schmidl covers the familiar conceptual and historical ground on the evolution of peace operations. He has also produced a summary analysis for the book. The reader would benefit more by reading the more comprehensive and important analyses of peace-maintenance tasks by Jarat Chopra and his co-authors than the summary provided in this book.

The most interesting contributions in the book come from somewhat unusual perspectives. Thus, Thomas Mockaitis explores peace operations from the vantage point of counterinsurgency warfare. The author's approach is conceptually muddled and ethically troublesome, but he seems to make an important point by comparing especially the operations in Somalia in terms of counterinsurgency. In fact, this perspective may help to explain why Somalia became such a debacle.

The book also contains a comparison of experiences in Srebrenica and Somalia by Chris Klep and Donna Winslow. They provide a reflective analysis of the difficulties faced primarily by the Canadian and Dutch forces in these violent places. The authors refer to inadequate training, logistical problems, unclear rules of engagement, political complexities, and other factors as reasons for the international failure in Srebrenica and Somalia.

Moreover, both the Dutch and especially the Canadian peacekeepers became involved in clearly criminal acts in Sbrebrenica. Klep and Winslow conclude, however, with a happy note that both governments started a soul search and have mended their peacekeeping practices since then. Unfortunately, there seems to have been much less multilateral learning from Somalia which has rather prompted unilateral reactions, especially in the United States.

The latter problem is addressed indirectly by Christopher Dandeker and James Gow who explore the impact of "strategic peacekeeping" on military culture. They recognize that, in addition to the problems of interstate coordination in peacekeeping activities, the need for robust operations pose challenges also to the traditional national military culture. As there is, in peacekeeping, no Clausewitzian binary choice between victory or defeat, military cultures must become more flexible, while at the same time civil-military relations may have to be redefined.

The effects of peacekeeping on established military cultures and practices are, in part, due to the different environment compared with war. Fabrizio Battistelli, Teresa Ammendola and Maria Grazia Galantino link up in their intriguing contribution the indeterminacy of peace operations to the postmodern nature of its environment which is fuzzy, in the cybernetic sense of the word. Although the correlation established, for instance, between the "postmodernity" of soldiers and their motivation to become engaged in peace enforcement seem to be dubious, the article is refreshingly different from the standard studies of peacekeeping.

Raimo Väyrynen

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