How Enemies Become Friends

The Sources of Stable Peace

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

Read an excerpt of How Enemies Become Friends.

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama challenged governments "on the wrong side of history" that "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." During his first year in office, he reached out to Iran, Russia, Cuba, and other adversaries. In How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace, Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Charles A. Kupchan explores when and how rivals are able to find their way to peace, arguing that "accommodation, not confrontation, is essential for successful rapprochement."

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He challenges the claim that democracy is necessary for peace, demonstrating that "nondemocracies can be reliable contributors to international stability." Thus, "the United States should assess whether countries are enemies or friends by evaluating their statecraft, not the nature of their domestic institutions." In a related article in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, Kupchan argues that Obama confronts the double challenge of securing the cooperation of recalcitrant regimes while also facing considerable domestic opposition to the accommodation of adversaries. "Washington will have to conduct not only deft statecraft abroad but also particularly savvy politics at home," he writes.

Case studies in the book include the onset of the Iroquois Confederation in the 1400s, Anglo-American rapprochement in the late 1800s, and reconciliation between Brazil and Argentina in the 1980s.

Kupchan also underscores that efforts at rapprochement often fail, requiring that they be pursued cautiously. He addresses the breakdown of amity through historical cases such as the U.S. Civil War, the expulsion of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965, the collapse of the Concert of Europe after 1848, and the demise of the Sino-Soviet alliance after 1958.

Kupchan concludes that commercial interdependence plays only an ancillary role in reconciliation. "Deft diplomacy, not trade or investment, is the critical ingredient needed to set enemies on the pathway to peace."

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

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Reviews and Endorsements

Learned, lucid, [and] fascinating.

Christian Century

A rich and persuasive analysis.

Times Higher Education

Ambitious . . . delivers a powerful argument . . . . This book is entitled to serious consideration by those in the field of international relations.

The Majalla

War makes rattling good history, but peace is poor reading, Kupchan quotes Thomas Hardy as saying. Fortunately, this book manages to be an exception.

American Prospect

[A] magesterial accomplishment . . . This book will be read by scholars and policy thinkers for a very long time.

G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

Kupchan's book is fascinating, thought provoking, and consequential.

Henry Kissinger

Using historical studies of rapprochement, security community, and union as pillars for a stable world order in the twenty-first century, Charles Kupchan once again leapfrogs conventional foreign policy wisdom. He rightly foresees the elements of and a blueprint for a new global commons, one constructed of mutual interest. This is a mature work produced by a mature thinker.

Gary Hart, former U.S. senator

This is a work of admirable breadth and unusual interest. Combining an interesting theoretical framework with an extraordinarily diverse set of case studies, Kupchan has produced a lucid work that should be valued by both the academic and policymaking worlds in sorting out the relationships among classic diplomacy, democracy, and peace.

Anthony Lake, Georgetown University

In this intellectual tour de force Charles Kupchan provides a theoretically ambitious, admirably eclectic, and empirically rich account of the different worlds of international relations that are normally studied in isolation: anarchy, rapprochement, security community, and union. Statecraft not regime attributes, and politics not economic interdependence, put enemies on the pathway to peace, starting with unilateral accommodation and ending with the generation of new narratives and identities. This is a big book in every sense of the word and a major scholarly achievement.

Peter J. Katzenstein, Cornell University

Theoretically ambitious and historically audacious, How Enemies Become Friends is an invaluable and timely contribution to our understanding of the causes of war and peace. Grounded in international relations scholarship and informed by an intimate knowledge of the actual practice of international security, Kupchan's book deserves to be read by scholars and practitioners alike.

Michael Barnett, University of Minnesota

This is an extremely ambitious book about a very important topic. It delivers through a well-crafted combination of theoretical innovation and detailed case studies. Kupchan offers a powerful and carefully assembled argument that will have a substantial impact on the field of international relations.

Daniel Deudney, Johns Hopkins University

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