We are culturally conditioned to think of war and peace in binary terms of strict opposition. Correspondingly, we tend to focus our attention on conflict prevention or conflict resolution. But as "Islands of Agreement" demonstrates, peace and war are seldom polar totalities but increasingly can and do co-exist within the confines of a single scenario. Consequently, Gabriella Blum suggests that even where conflict exists, we regard it as only one dimension of an ongoing, multifaceted interstate relationship. The result is a shift in perspective away from the constricting notions of "prevention" or "resolution" toward a more holistic approach of relationship management. This approach is especially pertinent because conflicts cannot always be prevented or resolved. Through case studies of long-enduring rivalries - India and Pakistan, Greece and Turkey, Israel and Lebanon - Blum shows how international law and politics can function in the battlefield and in everyday life, forming a hybrid international relationship.
Through a strategy she calls "islands of agreement," Blum argues that within the most entrenched and bitter struggles, adversaries can carve out limited areas that remain safe or even prosperous amid a tide of war. These havens effectively reduce suffering and loss and allow mutually beneficial exchanges to take place, offering hope for broader accords.
Gabriella Blum is Learned Hand Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.