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September 2008

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War & Diplomacy: From World War I to the War on Terrorism

warReviewed by Henry E. Mattox

Andrew Dorman and Greg Kennedy, Eds. War & Diplomacy: From World War I to the War on Terrorism. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2008, 245 pp., $60.00, (ISBN 978-1-57488-943-7).

This interesting collection of essays addresses in analytical terms the interaction of armed force and diplomacy, reaching, not unexpectedly, a general conclusion that the two aspects of international relations are necessarily intertwined. The two are not, however, co-dependent in equal terms. The studies reflect in outline the successes of diplomacy in avoiding, postponing, and mitigating war, as they show equally well the failures of diplomacy in avoiding or ending armed conflict. Each case examination by one of eight scholars stands on its own with regard to diplomacy’s helpfulness in affecting, for better or worse, a conflict of the past century.

The case studies undertaken range from the countdowns to the First and Second World Wars through the Iraq War. In between, somewhat curiously, other essays concern France and the Algerian uprising and Britain and the Falklands/Malvinas conflict. Kosovo provides the focus of an essay. All include useful data and interpretation. (The Britain and Europe focus of the volume derives from the fact that all but one of the contributors is affiliated with a British university and the eighth, with the Royal Military College of Canada.)  The countdown to the First World War struck this reviewer as especially informative. Editor Dorman’s discussion of the Iraq War, however, while accurate in outline, does not appear to address adequately the controversy in American and British intelligence circles on the validity of assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

A final point: This volume includes a highly useful bibliography.


Henry Mattox, the journal's contributing editor, was a Foreign Service officer from 1957 to 1980, serving in France, Portugal, Brazil, Nepal, Haiti, England, Egypt, and Washington. After retiring he entered academe, studying, writing, teaching, and earning a Ph.D. in U.S. diplomatic history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986. He was editor of American Diplomacy from its founding in 1996 until July, 2007.

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