Logics of Force and Dialogue: The Iraq/UNSCOM Crisis as Social Interaction

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last decade, the USA and Britain have argued that Saddam Hussein only understands the language of force. Based on this reasoning, the Agreement on Mutual Understanding in early 1998 was made possible by the threat of force. The purpose of this article is to ask what happens if we analyse the agreement as arising out of a process of social interaction — as opposed to a monologue of force. In the first section of the article I explore a theory of inconsistencies, as a basis for understanding how actors embedded in one type of interaction, `change games' to another. In the second section, I examine a concept of abduction, as a tool for analysing the construction of two different contexts of interaction — the Gulf War and the UNSCOM crisis beginning in late 1997. In the third section, I expand the analysis of the UNSCOM crisis to look at how inconsistencies were introduced into the dominant Western typification of the conflict and spaces opened for an alternative solution. The conclusions return to the theoretical problem and reflect on the breakdown of the agreement with the renewed logic of force toward Iraq.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-371
Number of pages36
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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