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78 Foreign Aff. 36 (1999)
Give War a Chance

handle is hein.journals/fora78 and id is 606 raw text is: Give War a Chance
Edward N. Luttwak
AN UNPLEASANT truth often overlooked is that although war is a
great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts
and lead to peace. This can happen when all belligerents become
exhausted or when one wins decisively. Either way the key is that the
fighting must continue until a resolution is reached. War brings peace
only after passing a culminating phase of violence. Hopes of military
success must fade for accommodation to become more attractive than
further combat.
Since the establishment of the United Nations and the enshrinement
of great-power politics in its Security Council, however, wars among
lesser powers have rarely been allowed to run their natural course.
Instead, they have typically been interrupted early on, before they
could burn themselves out and establish the preconditions for a lasting
settlement. Cease-fires and armistices have frequently been imposed
under the aegis of the Security Council in order to halt fighting.
NATo's intervention in the Kosovo crisis follows this pattern.
But a cease-fire tends to arrest war-induced exhaustion and lets
belligerents reconstitute and rearm their forces. It intensifies and
prolongs the struggle once the cease-fire ends-and it does usually
end. This was true of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49, which might
have come to closure in a matter of weeks if two cease-fires ordained
by the Security Council had not let the combatants recuperate. It has
recently been true in the Balkans. Imposed cease-fires frequently
interrupted the fighting between Serbs and Croats in Krajina, between
EDWARD N. LUTTWAK is Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies.


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