Useful Enemies When Waging Wars Is More Important Than Winning Them David Keen

Publication date:
15 May 2012
Yale University Press
304 pages: 235 x 156mm

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There are currently between twenty and thirty civil wars worldwide, while at a global level the Cold War has been succeeded by a "war on drugs" and a "war on terror" that continues to rage a decade after 9/11. Why is this, when we know how destructive war is in both human and economic terms? Why do the efforts of aid organizations and international diplomats founder so often?

In this important book David Keen investigates why conflicts are so prevalent and so intractable, even when one side has much greater military resources. Could it be that endemic disorder and a "state of emergency" are more useful than bringing conflict to a close? Keen asks who benefits from wars - whether economically, politically, or psychologically - and argues that in order to bring them successfully to an end we need to understand the complex vested interests on all sides.

David Keen is professor of complex emergencies at the London School of Economics. He lives in Oxford, UK.

"This book provides an important perspective on the most troubling dimensions of recent local and regional wars."--Publishers Weekly

"This is a book that should be available in military libraries, on every military and civilian planners' bookshelf and be read by those with an interest in learning more about the nature of conflict in the 21st century."-British Army Rumour Service

"David Keen is a specialist in African conflicts and his coverage of these is robust and compelling." Adrian Weale, Literary Review

"By applying the same lens to war in both developed and developing countries, and highlighting how they are often driven by similar political, economic and psychological dynamics, Keen undermines the comfortable distinction between violence in failed states and the modern - or even post-modern - wars of the West." —Dominik Zaum, Times Higher Education

"This eye-opening book will change the way you look at conflicts and the humanitarian efforts aimed at alleviating their impact on civilians." Paul Muir, The National