Review: The Quest For Viable Peace–International Intervention And Strategies For Conflict Transformation (Paperback)

Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class

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4.0 out of 5 stars Five Pillars of Peace a Great Start–USG/DoD Start with the Last, No One Manages the First Four!,

March 17, 2006
Jock Covey
This is a first rate long-overdue book, and has motivated me to take a close look at other US Institute for Peace publications, such as “Engineering Peace.”

The book presents, with varied contributions, a clear-cut model with four parts: moderating political conflict, defeating militant extremists, institutionalizing the rule of law, and developing a legitimate political economy. As William Shawcross teaches us in “Endless Conflict,” most humanitarian interventions are so inept that they create an instant black market and make continuing conflict even more profitable than it was before.

Throughout the book, reading the polite observations here and there, it is clear that we no longer lack the knowledge needed to execute complex emergencies, but rather than the United Nations and its Members nations are still refusing to be serious about providing the manpower and resources in both a timely and sustainable fashion. Throughout the book one reads of clear-cut situations where the force commander knew precisely what was needed in the way of people, tools, and dollars, and “the system” simply refused to provide it for years at a time.

The concepts are now mature: Pillar I is Humanitarian Assistance; Pillar II is Civil Administration; Pillar III is Democratization and Institution Building; and Pillar IV is Reconstruction and Economic Development.

I was especially impressed by two aspects of the book early on:

1) A comprehensive list of intelligence requirements for advance inter-agency planning, **all** of which could be satisfied by open sources of information; and

2) A list of eight coalitions needed for Kosovo that could serve as a model for any Combatant Commander: political, military, relief, rule of law, democratization, reconstruction, human rights, and donor.

The book comes with an interesting poster useful for classroom environments.

I put the book down thinking to myself that we need to split the Special Operations Command in two: a black hat side for dealing with bad guys one on one, and the traditional black behind the lines skulduggery; and a white hat side to serve as a hub for stabilization and reconstruction missions, in partnership with the Northern Command, which is correctly seeking to recast the National Guard as both a homeland defense force and a short term foreign stabilization force with military police, combat engineering, medical, PAO, JAG, and other capabilies. The only problem with that is that they are mostly white boys that have never left their counties. Combining them with an over-lain special operations force with deep inter-agency collaboration and foreign langauge and area skills, might be workable proposition.

I also put the book down believing that Ambassador Bolton needs a three star military deputy and a very big stick. We have to clean out the fat-cat first-class junkies from the UN, and replace them with serious people capable of doing real-world campaign planning with military precision and discipline. We need a UN Decision Support Centre with a global open source information collection and processing network, supported by regional Multinational Information Operations Centers (MIOC) funded by and supported by each regional Combatant Commander.

Bottom line: this book is quite excellent, but it loses one star for not having detailed of manning and organization as well as detailed budgets for notional complex emergency planning and operations staffs and force structures.

This book should be translated into French immediately, for the half of the UN that hates English.

See also:
Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political–Citizen’s Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption
Via Internet: Defense Science Board, Transitions to and From Hostilities

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