The search for durable peace in lands torn by ethno-national conflict is among the most urgent issues of international politics. Looking closely at five flashpoints of regional crisis, Sumantra Bose asks the question upon which our global future may depend: how can peace be made, and kept, between warring groups with seemingly incompatible claims? Global in scope and implications but local in focus and method, Contested Lands critically examines the recent or current peace processes in Israel–Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka for an answer.
Israelis and Palestinians, Turkish and Greek Cypriots, Bosnia’s Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, Sinhalese and Tamil Sri Lankans, and pro-independence, pro-Pakistan, and pro-India Kashmiris share homelands scarred by clashing aspirations and war. Bose explains why these lands became zones of zero-sum conflict and boldly tackles the question of how durable peace can be achieved. The cases yield important general insights about the benefits of territorial self-rule, cross-border linkages, regional cooperation, and third-party involvement, and the risks of a deliberately gradual (“incremental”) strategy of peace-building.
Rich in narrative and incisive in analysis, this book takes us deep into the heartlands of conflict—Jerusalem, Kashmir’s Line of Control, the divided cities of Mostar in Bosnia and Nicosia in Cyprus, Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula. Contested Lands illuminates how chronic confrontation can yield to compromise and coexistence in the world’s most troubled regions—and what the United States can do to help.