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Disarming Conflict

Disarming Conflict

Ernie Regehr


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In the past quarter century our world has hosted ninety-nine wars, twenty-nine of these are ongoing. The bill for maintaining huge stores of weapons and some 70 million people in uniform currently stands at $1.7 trillion a year. Of these wars, over 85 percent are not settled on the battlefield; they are fought to desperately hurting stalemates, eventually being turned over to diplomats and politicians who go in search of whatever face-saving outcomes may still be available. And yet, abandoning the conference table in favour of the battlefield is still justified when viewed as a last resort.

In this brave and discerning book, Ernie Regehr, OC, explains the approaches and initiatives needed to steer away from the futility of global military effort. Combining four decades of experience in conflict zones, advising and leading diplomacy efforts, building NGOs and contributing to the adoption of the Responsibility to Protect Act by the World Assembly, Regehr boldly shows that political stability will never be issued from the barrel of a gun.

Ernie Regehr OC is co-founder of Project Ploughshares, one of Canada’s leading peace and security NGOs, senior fellow in Arctic security at The Simons Foundation of Vancouver, and research fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College, the University of Waterloo.

'Disarming Conflict provides one of the most succinct and persuasive cases for the mitigation and drawing down of modern warfare, not just for its brutality and destructiveness, but for its inability to fulfill its own deluded purpose.'
Literary Review of Canada

‘From Afghanistan and Iraq to Sudan and beyond, this book exposes the futility of war. A must read for anyone who wants to live in a world where conflicts are resolved without resorting to death, destruction and the agony of violence.’
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK for Peace

'Disarming Conflict made me want to stand up and cheer – finally, a book that confronts, articulately and impeccably, modern assumptions about the utility of war in resolving global disputes. I will be quoting liberally from Disarming Conflict for years to come.'
Samantha Nutt, author of Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies and Aid

'A masterpiece highly recommended to commanders-in-chief, diplomats, and peacemakers. Let us heed the call and invest just as much in peace diplomacy as we do in arms.'
Ambassador Bethuel A. Kiplagat, founder of the Africa Peace Forum

'Studious, graceful, and authentic, Regehr's writing shatters the illusion that war is necessary for peace.'
Douglas Roche, former Canadian Senator, ambassador, and author

'Disarming Conflict is warmly recommended for those who still cling to the stereotypes of dreamily idealistic peaceniks and hard-nosed warriors – for after reading Regehr’s calm, rigorous, and utterly persuasive analysis, they will find their worldview permanently and usefully unsettled.'
Ian McKay, Queen’s University

'Powerful, comprehensive, and eminently practical …'
PeggyMason, president of Rideau Institute

'Regehr brings a wealth of knowledge and many years of thought to the issue of conflict and gives us a powerful counter to the deeply embedded assumption that there are seldom alternatives to war.'
Paul Rogers, Bradford University

'Regehr’s in-depth explanation of conflicts around the world is both informative and fascinating.'
Sandra Ruch, National Coordinator, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

'An indispensable read for all people who desire peace.'
Heather Eaton, Saint Paul University

'A solid critique of the futility of war. Leaders around the globe would be well advised to heed its call for conflict-prevention strategies and a sustained investment in the peaceful settlement of disputes.'
Paul Meyer, Simon Fraser University

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front Cover Front cover
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Dedication v
Contents vii
Preface and Acknowledgements ix
Introduction: Fighting to Lose\r 1
Limits to Force 3
Preventing War 7
Disarming Conflict\r 11
From Fighting Wars to Supporting Peace\r 13
Building Peace 15
1: A Quarter Century of Failed Warfare\r 19
Defining Wars 21
Counting Wars 26
Civil Wars 30
Interstate Wars 35
War and Global Armed Violence 37
2: Wars and Rumours of Wars: How Wars Start\r 39
Grievances 42
Identity 47
Capacity 50
Absence of Alternatives 52
Triggering War 54
Mass Atrocities 55
3: How Civil Wars End\r 57
Fighting to Negotiate 58
Governments Defeat Insurgencies 61
Insurgencies Defeat Governments 64
Wars That Ended in Negotiations 67
Wars That Dissolved 72
4: How International Wars End 79
Interstate Wars 80
Multilateral Wars 85
5: The Limits of Force 95
The Costs of War 97
Respecting the Limits of Force 103
6: Disarming Security: Preventing War\r 113
War Prevention is Working 114
When Prevention Still Fails 120
Rethinking Security 123
Institutionalizing War Prevention 127
7: Disarming Conflict: A Treaty to Control the Arms Trade\r 131
Trends in the Global Arms Trade\r 135
The Arms Trade Treaty 139
Transparency and Demand Reduction 145
8: Disarming the Bomb: Nuclear Disarmament 151
The Agreed Disarmament Agenda 158
Building Conditions for a World Without Nuclear Weapons\r 165
9: When Prevention Fails: Protecting the Vulnerable 171
Strategic Consent 175
Protecting the Vulnerable\r 179
10: Peace after the Sun Goes Down 187
Facing the Zealots\r 190
The Fatal Attraction 193
Consenting to Peace\r 195
Notes 199
Index 213
Back Cover Back cover