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Principled Negotiation and Mediation in the International Arena: Talking with Evil, Paul J. Zwier

Reviewed by Robert Jervis
 

The topic of how states should and do deal with actors like terrorists, murder­ous dictators, and leaders of lawless guerrilla movements who are usually considered beyond the pale is important for both scholars and policymakers. The same is true for the role of mediators in a range of conflicts. These subjects are not only ethically challenging, but pose analytical and methodological challenges. Unfortunately, the book under review does not rise to them. Al­though the histories of some of the cases are useful, the book is rambling, analytically weak, thinly researched, and filled with errors. The first sign that the book is superficial comes in the preface when the author asserts that the breakdown of the cease‐fire in Gaza at the end of 2008 “could have been prevented if the United States had been open to dialogue with the enemy and willing to facilitate communication between the parties” (pp. xi–xii). Neither there nor in the rest of the book does Paul J. Zwier go beyond the assertions to provide evidence or a serious argument. It is not as though there were no communication between Israel and Hamas. What, exactly, was any mediator supposed to do? What would be the role of various forms of power in any such effort? The literature has at least discussed these questions, if not answered them. Zwier does not seem to re

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