Robert B. Oakley was U.S. special envoy to Somalia under President Bush and Clinton. Previously, he was coordinator of the Institute's Middle East program.
The Los Angeles Times describes this volume as one of the two most important postmortems written since the United Nations dismantled its troubled and lamented mission to Somalia.
“Somalia” has become a symbol for the unacceptable costs of humanitarian intervention, for the type of foreign involvement that should be avoided. But the authors of this timely book, themselves key participants in the U.S.-led operation there, argue that substantial good was done—the tide of famine was stayed, hundreds of thousands of lives saved, and steps toward political reconciliation begun. Despite the recent renewal of political violence, the humanitarian situation remains stable.
In launching Operation Restore Hope, the multinational coalition faced a complex, tense, and rapidly unfolding situation. The authors detail how the carefully limited mission achieved its goals, including mutual understanding with the Somalis, by combining political, military, and humanitarian actions. But the authors also describe how different U.S. and UN concepts of the mission and subsequent changes in the mission’s scope led almost inevitably to confrontation.
Shortly before the Middle East peace talks began in November 1991, the United States Institute of Peace conducted a four-day simulation of what was about to unfold in the diplomatic dialogue between two enemy countries, Israel and Syria, whose representatives had never before sat together.
This volume presents a description of that exercise and its implications for peacemaking and conflict resolution in the Middle East, a discussion of simulations and their utility for diplomats and for the field of conflict resolution, and a discussion among the participants of prospects for the overall Middle East peace negotiations.