Warning about War: Conflict, Persuasion and Foreign Policy

By Christoph O. MeyerKing’s College London , Chiara De FrancoUniversity of Southern Denmark , Florian OttoControl Risks, Frankfurt

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date: August 2019
Print publication year: 2019
Online ISBN:9781108644006

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Book description

What does it take for warnings about violent conflict and war to be listened to, believed and acted upon? Why are warnings from some sources noticed and largely accepted, while others are ignored or disbelieved? These questions are central to considering the feasibility of preventing harm to the economic and security interests of states. Challenging conventional accounts that tend to blame decision-makers’ lack of receptivity and political will,  the authors offer a new theoretical framework explaining how distinct ‘paths of persuasion’ are shaped by a select number of factors, including conflict characteristics, political contexts, and source-recipient relations. This is the first study to systematically integrate persuasion attempts by analysts, diplomats and senior officials with those by journalists and NGO staff. Its ambitious comparative design encompasses three states (the US, UK, and Germany) and international organisations (the UN, EU, and OSCE) and looks in depth at four conflict cases: Rwanda (1994), Darfur (2003), Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014).


‘Meyer, De Franco, and Otto show that the problem of warning needs to be conceptualized broadly and seen as part of an interactive foreign policy process, with important warners being not only government officials, but NGOs, the media, and informal advisors. The sophisticated analysis is supported by detailed case studies drawing on a wide variety of unusual sources, and the result is a book of great interest.’

Robert Jervis – Adlai E. Stevenson Professor, Columbia University and author of How Statesmen Think