My former colleague Bill Long (now at Georgia State University) and I conducted a project to explore the impact of reconciliation events on the subsequent relations between countries that had fought a war or the relations between the combatant groups in a civil war. What we meant by a reconciliation event is an event involving the countries that typically includes the following elements: (1) direct physical contact or proximity between opponents, usually the senior representatives of the respective states; (2) a public ceremony accompanied by substantial publicity or media attention that relays the event to the wider national societies; and (3) ritualistic or symbolic behavior that indicates the parties consider the quarrel resolved and that more amicable relations are expected to follow. An example of a reconciliation event is Menachem Begin shaking hands with Anwar Sadat in 1978.

We sought to determine whether reconciliation events actually result in improved relations between the countries or the combatant groups, and if so, how. From this effort we published a journal article and a book. They are:

Brecke, P., and Long, W. J., “War and Reconciliation,” International Interactions, Vol. 25, No. 2, (1999), pp. 95-117

Long, W. J. and Brecke, P., War and Reconciliation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (2003)

Out of that research, we extended the work by looking at international conflicts that have not achieved reconciliation and instead experience recurring bouts of war. That project is reported in the following article:

Long, W. J., and P. Brecke, “The Emotive Causes of Recurrent International Conflict,” Politics and the Life Sciences, Vol. 22, No. 1 (March 2003), pp. 24-35

Leave a Reply