Peacemaking In History Research Paper

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1. Definitions

1.1 Peace And War

War is declared, begun or unleashed, or it breaks out; peace is concluded, settled, agreed or imposed. Ordinary language thus shows an important asymmetry: war is either the outcome of forces neither side can fully control, or the result of one-sided action, while peace has to be established in an effort involving both sides, unless it is simply the result of the dying out of fighting or of the annihilation of one side. For the purpose of this research paper, peace is defined negatively as absence of war and other forms of widespread collective fighting. This static definition does not do justice to the concept of peace as a movement, a process of improvement with stages in between just a momentary absence of war and ideal, eternal peace and harmony. But this positive, dynamic view of peace concerns a different subject; this research paper deals only with the crucial transition from a state of war to a state of peace. War is defined as a state of collective armed violence between politically organized, at least de facto and usually de jure independent communities, during which special law is valid. The main characteristic of this law is the relaxation of the rules which prohibit killing. War does not presuppose continuous fighting. But if fighting ceases altogether, one can speak of a de facto peace. Fighting without application of different law is not war, but anarchy or rebellion. If, later on, the law of war is recognized by both sides, the rebellion or the anarchy has developed into internal or civil war. Civil war occurs between parties originally forming one political community, while war between independent communities is external or international war.



With respect to peacemaking, one fundamental aspect of war has to be mentioned: war has inevitably the character of an ordeal, of a ‘judgement of God,’ as power and not justice decides its outcome (Kant 1968).

1.2 Peacemaking And Pacification

Peacemaking is defined as transition from a state of war to a state of peace by a deliberate action of the parties involved. Departing from a differentiation between three types of peace introduced by Raymond Aron: equilibrium—hegemony—empire (Aron 1962), peacemaking is here placed between two extremes which mark ideal types. Peacemaking proper is characterized by coordination, and hence by full legal (although not necessarily material) equality and independence of the parties. If there is a new conflict between them, it will be international war. Pacification is characterized by subordination. It implies the legal extinction of one party as an independent entity by its incorporation into the other. Usually, it is connected with an ex post denial of the vanquished’s right to conduct war by the victor. If there is a new conflict, it will start as a rebellion and may develop into a civil war. Each concrete case of war termination can be situated between these two extremes. For pacification, an overwhelming victory of one side is a necessary condition, whereas peacemaking proper tends rather to be linked with a stalemate. But the relative strength of the parties is not the only factor deciding the outcome. There are periods in history during which pacification prevails.

2. Peacemaking Before The Twentieth Century

The roots of peacemaking lie beyond the grasp of written sources. Anthropological research as well as written evidence of transactions between literate and nonliterate political communities suggest that wherever there is fighting between politically organized groups, there are also mechanisms to end fighting on more than just a de facto basis, which presupposes some reciprocally recognized arrangements, and thus some reliability and stability. Special oral procedures to memorize the contents of the transactions are developed (cf., e.g., the highly elaborate methods of the North American Indians in their dealings with the Europeans in the eighteenth century, which the Europeans had to adopt as long as they could not simply dictate the terms (Franklin 1938)). While the material stipulations can vary considerably according to the way of living of the peoples involved, the most important and the most difficult arrangements concern guarantees for the keeping and carrying out of the stipulations. Whatever the intention of those who conclude the peace, its oral form tends to limit its scope in time and in space. Frequent renewal, especially after the death of the head of one of the contracting parties, is the most important method to maintain the force of the agreements. Wherever writing develops, peace treaties are among the first instruments for which it is used, and they are frequently written on the most durable materials, like stone or metal. The oldest treaties preserved date from the third millennium BC in the Ancient Near East. They are to be seen in the context of the pacification of vassals, while the first known treaty between great powers is from the thirteenth century BC, between the Hittite and the Egyptian empires. The problem of guarantees is dealt with by oaths and by the invocation of the intervention of deities, while in other cases hostages are given, either unilaterally or reciprocally, or dynastic matrimonial unions link the destinies of the two parties.

In the course of time, the main topics of peacemaking, besides peace itself and its guarantees, turned out to be territorial, financial and economic. Sometimes they were supplemented by clauses dealing with the destiny of certain populations. Peacemaking proper was almost invariably connected with an amnesty for those who had supported the enemy during the war, based on a more general promise of reciprocally forgiving and forgetting what had happened during the war. The contracting parties were to behave as if peace had never been interrupted, thus marking a sharp contrast between war and peace. There was also a strong tendency in all parts of the world to stress the perpetual character of the peace concluded, not so much as an expression of a realistic expectation but rather as a reminder of a general characteristic of peace (Fisch 1979).

Whether peacemaking proper or pacification prevailed in a certain period and in a certain area, depended to a great extent on the general nature of the relationships between political entities. Well-documented genuinely pluralistic systems of a balance of power (which tend to foster peacemaking proper) are rare. The cases which probably came nearest to it were relationships between the Greek city states in the fifth and fourth centuries BC and between the Hellenistic states before the Roman conquest. Even here, there were tendencies for hegemonies to develop as with Athens or Sparta in Greece. Later the Greek system was absorbed by an empire, first Macedonia and then Rome. It is however to be supposed that in areas and periods with many smaller political entities, of which we have few written sources, peacemaking proper was also the rule. In international systems built around powerful empires, on the other hand, there was a strong tendency to pacification, certainly in the formal, although less in the material sense. Great empires, among them the Roman, the Chinese, the Islamic Khalifate, and the Ottoman and the Mogul Empires, frequently showed a reluctance towards peacemaking proper, claiming some kind of over lordship over their neighbors and rivals. They tended not to conclude formally reciprocal treaties with them but to impose unilateral edicts on them, or else they limited the duration of treaties. The Islamic doctrine, for example, allowed no peace but only armistices of up to 10 years with non-Muslims. Peace was not agreed, but granted. However, reality often belied these pretensions; de facto the solution was frequently one between equals, and sometimes the empire was even in the weaker position.

In European history there is a somewhat different interplay between peacemaking proper and pacification. In the Middle Ages there were two trends towards pacification. On the one hand, the Emperor had a claim to supremacy over all the rulers of Christendom. In practice, this claim had hardly any importance; peacemaking among the great monarchs was legally and formally reciprocal. Thus, the basic structure of peacemaking in Europe after major wars was peacemaking proper long before 1648. Much more important with respect to pacification were, on the other hand, feudal relations between lords and vassals on various levels. Vassals tried to acquire full independence, which included the right to be a party in war and thus to become a subject of peacemaking, while lords tried to gain full control over their vassals, which led to attempts at pacification. The result of the century-old struggle was a balance of power-system with fully sovereign entities which, among themselves, practiced only peacemaking proper. In some countries, the ruler (usually a king) had been able to subjugate his vassals by methods of pacification, while in others, especially in the Empire, the vassals had gained full or almost full sovereignty.

Modern European history from the sixteenth century, and even more from the seventeenth century onwards, is thus characterized by a system of legally strictly equal relations. In its framework, particular methods of peacemaking were further developed. During the war, various kinds of peace feelers would be extended. Frequently, mediators played an important part, either as honest brokers or as great powers which tried to influence the settlement according to their own interests (on mediation in general, see Touval and Zartman 1985). The process of peacemaking proper tended to be broken up into three stages: armistice, with cessation of hostilities and, frequently, important material settlements—preliminary treaty, containing the core of the settlement— definitive treaty. This was, however, never a necessary pattern. Preliminary peace treaties played a really significant part only in the 19th century. Frequently, the most important decisions were taken even before hostilities ended (Pillar 1983). One of the most salient features were the peace congresses after general European wars, especially those in 1648, 1713, 1814–15, and 1919. The first of them, in Munster and Osnabruck, which led to the Peace of Westphalia, was an important stage in the development of a European system of legally equal, sovereign states. But it was not, as is frequently claimed, the point of departure for this system, which had much older roots. Such congresses developed general, often multilateral settlements which were likely to be more stable than mere bilateral peace treaties. Their success was remarkable, especially after the Congress of Vienna in 1814 15, which constituted a kind of joint hegemony, combined with a joint responsibility for the peace, of the great powers. But after all, general peace settlements had as their corollary general wars.

This was, however, but one side of modern European peacemaking. The European states conquered, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, vast parts of the world. In many areas of Asia and Africa, peacemaking proper between Europeans and non-Europeans was the rule up to the nineteenth century. Especially in America, there were widespread attempts at pacification. They were frequently successful: the extra-European rulers were brought into a legally subordinate position. This happened even in areas where, at first, there had been peacemaking proper, especially in India and Indonesia. The difference was felt by the contemporaries. In Spain, for example, pacificacion officially replaced conquista in 1573, showing the origin of the concept in conquest and not in peace. Yet pacification was often merely a fiction, because the colonial power was too weak to impose its will. Nevertheless, in the long run, pacification tended to become the rule in most colonial dealings.

Thus, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the European experience was one of peacemaking proper in Europe and of frequent pacification outside Europe. For both purposes elaborate and successful techniques had been developed. But this also meant that war was a well-known feature of international life. One tried to avoid it as far as possible; nevertheless it belonged to the accepted experience. This acceptance was to be challenged in the twentieth century.

3. Peacemaking In The Twentieth Century

The First World War began as a traditional European war. The fierceness of its fighting and the destructiveness of modern weapons increased the number of combat casualties beyond that of all previous wars. This led to increased demands for the outlawry of war, that war should no longer be considered as a legitimate means of politics but as a crime, and propaganda on both sides tried to depict the enemy as a criminal.

The Second World War further strengthened the view that war was a crime, while the postwar period brought, with thermonuclear weapons, for the first time in history the possibility of a war destroying mankind altogether, so that peacemaking would be neither necessary nor possible. This did not mean, however, that smaller wars had become impossible.

These developments had consequences for peacemaking. The Covenant of the League of Nations, which was part of the peace treaties after the First World War, prohibited war at least to a certain extent (articles 10; 12–15). The Briand–Kellogg Pact of 1928 brought the renunciation of war as a means of national politics, while the UN Charter of 1945 prohibited the use of force—and thus war—altogether, with the exception of legitimate self-defense (articles 2, 4; 51), which was no real exception, as self-defense is the answer to an aggression which in turn is prohibited. Combined with the outlawry was the attempt to prevent war by a system of collective security which would replace war by police-actions of the totality of the member-states against a peace breaker. Ideally war would have been abolished altogether by this system. But it was weak, because neither the League nor the UN had enough coercive means of its own and even less the power monopoly which would have been needed in order to reduce warfare to an efficient system of policing.

At least in theory, the outlawry of war excluded the possibility of peacemaking proper. If one side was guilty of a criminal act there could be no peace on the basis of legal equality but only punishment. Yet, as there was no efficient system of policing, war still maintained its character of a judgment of God, and there was no guarantee that the guilty party could be punished. Peacemaking reflected these facts. It tended to join elements of both peacemaking proper and pacification, the mixture being dependent on the outcome of the war. After the First World War this meant a combination of the intra-European and of the colonial tradition. There was a peace congress, but with the losers excluded, and there were peace treaties, but with the vanquished formally admitting their responsibility for the war, thus being placed into a legally inferior position. This tendency was increased after the Second World War, when the vanquished were not only deemed, and had to confess themselves, guilty of the crime of aggression, but their leaders were brought to trial for their crimes and their states were occupied and administered by the victors. Especially after the World Wars there was a tendency by the victors to devise definitive solutions at a very early stage of the negotiations if they did not simply impose them by instruments of surrender or armistices.

Peacemaking in the twentieth century outside the context of the World Wars followed this pattern to a great extent. Theoretically, or rather dogmatically speaking, there was no longer any room left for peacemaking proper. But wars could still lead to a stalemate and render traditional peacemaking necessary, although there might be no traditional final peace treaty. A particularly elaborate example was the termination of the Vietnam War 1968–73 5. Thus, peacemaking proper has maintained a certain importance in the context of the termination of wars, and it is likely to keep it as long as there is no efficient global system of policing, although the relevant activities of the UN have increased, especially after 1989, in the shape of peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Peacekeeping often takes the place of a provisional arrangement instead of formal, definitive peacemaking, while peace-enforcement has the character of an imposed mediation. The proliferation of civil wars in recent years has even increased the importance of some traditional techniques of peacemaking, as the coexistence of former civil-war parties makes reconciliation more important than it is between independent, separate states.

4. The Conditions Of Peace: Research Into Peacemaking

It is an almost stereotyped complaint in the literature on peacemaking that, compared with research into the causes of war, very little research into the causes of peace has been carried out. This is, however, not so much the consequence of a predilection for war or even a warlike disposition of the researchers, but rather of a basic difference in the public appreciation of war and peace. In a prescientific view, war has causes, while peace has not, in the sense that peace is considered as the ordinary and war as the exceptional state of things, even though in reality periods of peace may be shorter than periods of war. The wish for peace usually does not have to be justified in the same way as the wish for war. A state of war sooner or later ends in some kind of peace, while a state of peace does not necessarily lead to war.

The scant research on peacemaking seems to be one of the consequences of these facts. Moreover it is difficult to conceive of causes of peace in a scientific sense. Peace has been successfully concluded in extremely diverse political situations, and there are no methods to calculate the probability of peace in a specific constellation.

Traditionally, peacemaking is a central object of historiography in general and of diplomatic and military history in particular. The focus is usually on individual wars and their termination. Favorite objects of research have been the plans for permanent or perpetual peace through the ages (as an introduction cf., e.g., Hinsley 1963) and the main general peace congresses from 1648 to 1919 (cf. summaries of Holsti 1991 and Osiander 1994), while a comprehensive account of the termination of World War II has yet to be written. Such research helps to understand particular cases of peacemaking, but it usually is little concerned with general causes. More systematic, comparative research has occasionally been conducted during great wars, with a view to facilitate peacemaking. This led neither to more sophisticated systematic accounts nor to the search of causes of peace, but rather to surveys of the range of material regulations of earlier peace settlements (cf., e.g., Phillimore 1917 and Phillipson 1916). The only and very important exception is Quincy Wright’s influential A Study of War (1965), first published during the Second World War, which, however, was the result of a project initiated long before the war. Wright does not only deal with causes of war but also with causes of peace.

After 1945 there was an apparently paradoxical development. In the social sciences, the threat of an all-destructive thermonuclear war gave, especially from the 1960s, a boost to peace studies and peace research, with the Journal of Conflict Resolution (since 1957) and the Journal of Peace Research (since 1964) as leading organs. But as peacemaking was no feasible possibility in the context of a thermonuclear war, the central object was the prevention of war and the preservation and improvement of peace. Nevertheless, as experience showed the possibility and the reality of many smaller wars under the umbrella of the thermonuclear stalemate, war termination and peacemaking became the object of at least some studies in the social sciences, especially under the influence of the extremely difficult termination of the Vietnam War (cf., e.g., Fox 1970). In addition, there was the older tradition of more historically oriented research. Hentig (1952) dealt with the general modalities of peacemaking, while Fisch (1979) investigated the concepts of war and peace as they were developed in the peace treaties themselves, including the distinction between peacemaking proper and pacification. The most important basis for research in the social sciences became Wright (1965). After him, Raymond Aron’s great survey of peace and war (1962) located peacemaking in the context of international studies and of the Cold War. Since the late 1960s there have been a number of studies dealing systematically with possible causes of peace, on the basis of the comparison of a greater or smaller number of war terminations, e.g., Randle (1973), Pillar (1983) and Holsti (1991) or, more formalized, Carroll (1969). On recent research see Massoud (1996). There exists, however, no theory of war termination or peacemaking, and it is unlikely that it can be developed, considering the extremely varied factors which may combine to bring about peace. The same holds for research into the conditions of maintaining a peace once concluded. Research in international law has particularly dealt with the question of the outlawry of war in the twentieth century, but less with its consequences for peacemaking. There is a challenge for new research in the growing importance of international peacekeeping, peace-enforcement and peacebuilding during recent years. For an introduction, see Otunnu and Doyle (1998). But the main problem remains the contradiction between the outlawry of war and situations of stalemate which will go on requiring traditional peacemaking as long as there is no world-wide monopoly of power. In this context, it will be important to compare the present methods of peacemaking and peace-enforcement with the traditional forms of peacemaking and pacification.


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