Nested Security

Nested Security

Lessons in Conflict Management from the League of Nations and the European Union

Erin K. Jenne

Cornell University Press, Sage House, Ithaca, New York, 2015, 264 pages

Book Review published on: April 14, 2017

Nested Security author Erin Jenne, a professor of international relations at Central European University, postulates that effective civil conflict management requires a stable and neutralized, external, regional environment in order to positively resolve minority-driven domestic conflicts. Conflict resolution is never completely resolved without first stabilizing the region in which a civil conflict is occurring. This is because regional actors and external factors are often tied to internal domestic discord. Regional security nested into state security, nested into domestic security (an outside-in approach), leads to greater cooperation. Antagonists embroiled in domestic conflict and would-be third-party peace brokering entities have a greater probability of success in conflict resolution if the outside environment is stable. If not, then instability rules.

The author first presents a review of the promises and pitfalls of cooperative conflict management seen through recent European experiences. She intertwines relevant research on the subject that addresses conflict theory to build the basis and logic of her research. Jenne then tests her theory through comparative historical case study analysis. She uses cases involving the European Union and the League of Nations as third-party peace brokering agents. The cases analyzed are low-intensity minority-driven conflicts, involving central and eastern European countries during the interwar and post-Cold War periods. Cooperative mediation was the primary means employed in addressing these cases, which range from the Aland Islands minority conflict between Sweden and Finland to conflicts with Russian minorities in Albania, Latvia, and Estonia. Most of the cases studied had conflicts that were aggravated by, and thus extended by, regional actors.

She keenly proves her assertion through a detailed historical review of pertinent literature on each country’s case study and by conducting analysis over time using valid variables and metrics. Jenne further tests the results by generalizing them for application beyond Europe and applying them against all managed intrastate low-intensity conflicts that took place worldwide from 1993 to 2004. The outcome of this testing, although derived through a somewhat raw application of inferential analysis, further supports the notion that “conflict mediation is much more likely to achieve success when the wider conflict environment is stabilized.”

Notable additional outcomes from her research include mediators are most successful when they address the intrastate component in conjunction with its interstate component, cooperation between mediators and enforcers is critical, great powers must stand up to powerful rival states, and powerful militaries held by mediators act as important influencers in resolving issues diplomatically.

The author uses tables, figures, and diagrams to effectively illustrate how the case analyses support her theory as well as help the reader connect the theoretical dots between the cases she investigates. The associated scholarship she draws from in support of her work is comprehensive in content and rigor. Jenne goes to great lengths to present her material in a logical and palatable way. The reader will find this book easy to read, follow, and digest relative to the richness of the subject matter. This book will be a most appealing read for those involved in research endeavors relating to peace building/conflict management within and between states, those involved in crafting and executing diplomacy in politically fragile areas, as well as military agents and organizations who are often called upon to assist in achieving conflict resolution through military means.

Book Review written by: David A. Anderson, PhD, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas