Blood on the Doorstep

The Politics of Preventive Action

November 12, 2002

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Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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Conflict Prevention

Read an excerpt of Blood on the Doorstep.

Given the dramatic loss of life, the fallout in terms of refugees and other serious problems, and the attacks that deadly conflict inflicts on our fundamental values, preventing such conflict and the disorder it sows should be a much higher priority for the United States, other governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Combining hard-headed commentary with expert analysis of recent deadly conflicts in Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans, and Afghanistan, Rubin shows that violence arises not only from internal conflicts within poverty-stricken societies, but also from external political manipulation and failures of global institutions. He explores other factors that contribute to conflict and lead to violence, such as the demand for illegal drugs, weak banking regulations that facilitate looting by corrupt rulers, arms trafficking by terrorists, and the economic marginalization of entire populations.

Because the prevention of deadly conflict requires intervention in political conflicts, preventive action must itself be viewed as political, with all the struggles and compromises that entails. According to Rubin, the solution lies in coalitions of international organizations, NGOs, and states prepared to take political action, and not in a new "institutional architecture" or "global governance."

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