War is a common phenomenon around the world. Conflict is usually devastating in terms of the destruction it causes and the number of civilian and military lives that are typically lost. Currently, there are wars among nations in the Middle East, and the one pitting Israel against Arab countries is a good example. The warfare has led to the loss of many lives and destruction and points to the need for solutions or measures that can help to create durable peace among nations after a war. Fortna’s article delves into the topic of seeking lasting peace and discredits the argument that agreements are just “scraps of paper” that are not binding and are ineffective in creating durable peace. Indeed, when a war ends, and peace is achieved, the question of whether or not it is durable arises. This question has prompted researchers to explore what can be done to enhance the durability of peace in the wake of war. In her article, Fortna seeks to answer the question of what can be done to enhance the durability of peace in the aftermath of conflict. She focusses on how effective agreements are in ensuring that peace lasts or they cannot endure.
Overview of Article
Fortna questions whether some war-torn areas are doomed to engaged cycles of conflict and warfare or whether people in these areas can take measures to increase the likelihood of peace. Undoubtedly, some countries have experienced many cycles of conflicts, which validates the question of what enables some countries to find lasting peace but not others. Fortna maintains that peace is one of the hardest aspects to maintain, especially when deadly enemies are involved in the conflict (338). However, there is a way of ensuring long-lasting peace after conflict. She believes that the mechanisms implemented in the context of cease-fire agreements determine whether peace endures or not. Although peace is precarious, it is possible for entities involved in a war to achieve lasting peace. The task of building peace appears to be harder in some instances as compared to others. Some of the instances in which it is difficult to establish peace are when a war ends in a stalemate; the previous history of a state is riddled with conflict, and warfare threatens the existence of one party. Moreover, securing durable peace can be more difficult for neighboring countries than for countries located miles apart. Contrarily, durable peace is highly likely if the incentive for avoiding conflict is higher than that of continuing it. For example, if a war over policy issue is likely to crush the economies of both countries, the two are likely to find a peaceful resolution.
The article argues that irrespective of the circumstances or existing situations, states can succeed in improving chances for achieving enduring peace. Fortna mentioned three fundamental measures states could take to improve the chances for peace. The first alternative is altering incentives, which can be achieved through raising the cost of attack either politically or physically (Fortna 342). The second one is reducing uncertainty, which can be done through the specification of compliance, regulation of activities that are likely to cause tension, and the provision of credible signals of intention (Fortna 343). The third measure outline by Fortna is the prevention or management of accidents from spiraling back to war (Fortna 344). The article generally holds that the three measures are effective in terms of encouraging durable peace.
In most cases, the three measures are implemented together.
Some approaches to ending war have been more successful than others. Based on the history of cease-fires in the past fifty years, one of the most effective ways of creating durable peace is creating buffer zones between opposing armies. Another key prospect is outlining the cease-fire terms, for instance, by including the location of the cease-fire line. The article also underlines the effectiveness of setting up joint commissions that discuss inevitable conflicts and misunderstandings that may arise in the wake of war. However, according to Fortna, though commonly used, some approaches to ending warfare have a minimal effect when it comes to the creation of durable peace in the aftermath of war. Some of these include formal agreements, confidence-building measures, as well as withdrawal of forces. In as much as they do not cause harm or destruction, there is less clear-cut evidence that they help in the establishment of durable peace.
Critique of Article
The author of the article explores many viable ways of ending conflict but does not mention that the causes of war can be used to establish lasting peace. A problem cannot be solved without understanding its cause and eliminating it. Indeed, the factors that trigger war significantly influence whether the warring parties can find lasting peace. The conflicts between the U.S. and Japan during World War II and the ongoing wars between Israel and Arab nations can be used to illustrate the impact of the causes of conflicts on achieving peace that lasts. The conflicts between the U.S. and Japan during World War II and the ongoing one between Israel and Arab nations can be used to showcase the effectiveness of addressing the causes of war to achieve lasting peace. The latter conflict is centered on territorial issues. On the other hand, the conflict between the U.S. and Japan was about political interests. Wars or conflicts triggered by push and pull over territories are usually not resolvable (Shinoda 29). On the contrary, those triggered by political interests are often resolved. As such, it is difficult for Israel and Arab nations to find lasting peace.
The article also suggests the creation of buffer zones between opposing armies or states as a quite effective measure in establishing durable peace in the aftermath of wars, yet that is only true for neighboring states, as seen in the case of North and South Korea as well as India and Pakistan. After the Korean War, the North and South created a buffer zone that has helped to create durable peace between the two nations. Although the buffer zone between India and Pakistan was not a major one, there has been lasting peace between the two nations.
From an empirical point of view, the article talks about testing specific hypotheses on the topic or issue at hand but fails to include evidence-based data to prove or support the same. To confirm or reject a hypothesis on whether agreements guarantee the durability of peace after war, the article should have entailed studies involving participants who are or have been victims of war. For instance, the hypothesis that agreements are not merely scraps of paper and that their content affects whether peace lasts or war resumes should have been backed by evidence-based data obtained from participants with first-hand experience. Moreover, the evidence-based data included in the article in the appendices section may not be easily interpreted by readers. A good example is the data on appendix 2 “Cease-Fires Data Set” that is not broken down for the reader to understand whether or not agreements and other measures guarantee peace in the aftermath of war.
That war is often devastating in terms of destruction caused, and the loss of millions of lives cannot be refuted. Many nations often strike peace deals or agreements after a war. However, it is not guaranteed that peace will last in the aftermath of war. Fortna’s article delves into this issue and highlights measures that guarantee durable peace in the aftermath of war. She emphasizes whether agreements help to ensure durable peace after war. The article discredits the argument that agreements are scraps of paper with minimal effect in ensuring the durability of peace. The authors posit that agreements are often accompanied by content that affects whether peace lasts or war resumes. Agreements are just as important as other measures mentioned, but they require parties involved to stick to the made agreements.
Fortna, Virginia Page. “Scraps of paper? Agreements and the durability of peace.” International Organization 57.2 (2003): 337-372. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511808760.023
Shinoda, Hideaki. “Peace-building and State-building from the Perspective of the Historical Development of International Society.” International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 18.1 (2018): 25-43. https://doi.org/10.1093/irap/lcx025