Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 August 2010
This chapter first introduces the conceptual components of deep interstate reconciliation and uses this conceptual framework to develop an operational definition of the term. It then lays out the basic assumptions and causal mechanisms of realist theory and national mythmaking theory and infers testable predictions from these two theories for postconflict international relations. The chapter concludes with responses to challenges from alternative theoretical perspectives, including the democratic peace theory, commercial and sociological liberalism, and regionalism and security community theory.
CONCEPTUALIZING DEEP INTERSTATE RECONCILIATION
The concept of reconciliation can be understood simply as “restoring friendship, harmony, or communion” between two parties, of which either one or both experienced trauma in the past. In international relations, the traumatic experiences of a state usually originate in protracted, destructive conflicts with external actors. Such conflicts not only cause massive combat casualties but also often involve gross violations of human rights and even national annexation, territorial loss, or pillaging of important national resources. Besides, states suffer the psychological wounds of humiliation while enduring horrendous physical damage. These historical injustices generate deep-rooted collective sorrow and grief that become national trauma, predisposing former enemy states to mutual enmity. To attain reconciliation is to overcome such enmity stemming from the traumatic past.