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"Adams combines a lifetime of experience in some of the world’s most troubled spots with academic rigor and a passion for peace to share this remarkable narrative. From Air Force jet mechanic in Vietnam to UN peacebuilder in Kosovo, and now as a concerned citizen in a divided and troubled USA, he provides informed perspective with astute analysis, and he puts the current complex challenges in context and offers pathways to resolution. I highly recommend it to my peacebuilding colleagues and to anyone who seeks solutions to the conflicts in a troubled world." 

Charles F. “Chic” Dambach, Former President and CEO, Alliance for Peacebuilding, author of Exhaust the Limits: The Life and Times of a Global Peacebuilder.

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"Analytic Reflectionsfrom Conflict Zones"
A Cautionary Tale for A Polarizing America and World

 James R. Adams, PhD




Cambridge Scholars Publishing


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About the Book

In the end, this book is about humanity's journey and search for balance -- in freedoms, in dignity, in civility, in fairness.

It details the compelling story of the author’s life-journey through conflict zones and his return home with innovative conflict assessment and transformation frameworks and models to help people better see their conflict circumstances and peacebuilding possibilities—analytic reflections aimed at academics, professionals, and citizens equally.
This unique and engaging approach contains a blend of on-the-ground stories, mix of professional and personalized writing styles, astute historical and policy contextualization, and accessible field-tested analytic tools with community, societal, and international intervention implications.
It is also a cautionary tale for increasingly conflicted societies. Patterns of political polarization, caustic commentary, and societal discord in America and elsewhere remind the author of the consequences of dangerous patterns that he has witnessed before in various conflict zones -- particularly the consequences of extremism and trends toward fascism that have inflicted protracted suffering upon millions in conflict and "post"-conflict zones.
Utilizing his human realism lens, Dr. Adams provides cautions and a running commentary on current and historical events with connections to the broader human condition.

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About the Author

Dr James R. Adams, a Vietnam veteran and professional field officer, has extensive on-the-ground experience in peace and stabilization operation roles with the United Nations and other international organizations in Africa, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. In pursuit of a better understanding of conflict and peacebuilding, he acquired an MS and a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University, USA, specializing in Peace and Stabilization Operations. He has presented resulting observations, and innovative frameworks and models, field-tested in Bosnia, to civilian and military audiences in Kosovo and at the US National Defense University. His publications include an Alliance for Peacebuilding article “Bosnia—Stabilization Stalled in Negative Peace”.
Based on direct experience and considerable original conceptual work, the author’s unique “human realism” perspective is conveyed with conviction and humor to reach a wide audience of academics, students, professionals, and the general public—A new and authentic voice for our times, and a missing piece for clarifying the dynamics of conflict transformation for everyone to see and understand.
Otherwise, the author has been known to race cars, ride Harleys, play acoustic guitar and flugelhorn, and other questionable activities.

What Readers Are Saying

"In a timely treatise for those who care about the future of America if not our world, James Adams does a masterful job of helping us understand how the same dynamics of national self-destruction over there present an existential threat to our own experiment in self-governance over here. Also, this richly researched and thought-provoking work offers a navigational guide on how the methodologies of experienced, scholarly practitioners like Jim, based on lessons learned from conflicts all over the world, can help put us back on the road to positive peace right here at home.Read this before it's too late! "

July 24, 2021

Christopher Holshek
Colonel, U.S. Army Civil Affairs (Ret.), Senior Civil-Military Director, Narrative Strategies LLC, author of Travels with Harley - Journeys in Search of Personal and National Identity, and founder of the National Service Ride.

"Adams combines a lifetime of experience in some of the world’s most troubled spots with academic rigor and a passion for peace to share this remarkable narrative. From Air Force jet mechanic in Vietnam to UN peacebuilder in Kosovo, and now as a concerned citizen in a divided and troubled USA, he provides informed perspective with astute analysis, and he puts the current complex challenges in context and offers pathways to resolution. I highly recommend it to my peacebuilding colleagues and to anyone who seeks solutions to the conflicts in a troubled world." "

September 8, 2021

Charles F. “Chic” Dambach
Former President and CEO, Alliance for Peacebuilding, author of Exhaust the Limits: The Life and Times of a Global Peacebuilder.

"After arriving in Haiti in 1995 to research the UN Mission in Haiti, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges confronting the mission: predatory elites, a ruthless praetorian guard supplemented by a secretive paramilitary gang, unremitting poverty, and environmental devastation. Where to begin? How will it ever end? The author of this volume has assembled a sophisticated and comprehensive framework for answering these questions derived from his many years of experience as a field officer in Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, Kosovo, and Afghanistan followed by extensive field research in Bosnia. He deftly weaves together three books into one. The first is a penetrating and often witty description of the origins and evolution of each of the conflicts he has grappled with. The second is a tour de force of the concepts and theoretical constructs that have been developed to describe and explain the intricacies of international intervention into internal conflicts that threaten regional and international security. His central argument is that a combination of Johan Galtung’s negative and positive peace measures for addressing the root causes of conflicts (i.e., coercive suppression of hostilities combined with institutionalization of mechanisms for resolving conflict) if applied with a judicious combination of both realism and idealism (what he calls human realism) is the path to self-sustaining peace. The third book is the leitmotif that haunts the entire discussion: Having witnessed the consequences of purposeful polarization of societies by conflict entrepreneurs in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo, he urgently implores: “…this is a cautionary tale for an increasingly polarized America—a hard-won model of democracy, now at risk.”

July 28, 2021

Michael Dziedzic
Co-Editor of The Quest for Viable Peace: International Intervention and Strategies for Conflict Transformation, and Adjunct Professor, George Mason University.

Table of Contents

A unique and innovative approach to the subject.


List of Figures........................................................................................................... xList of Tables ............................................................................................................ xiForeword .................................................................................................................... xiiPreface ........................................................................................................................ xivAcknowledgements ............................................................................................ xviiiAbbreviations ......................................................................................................... xix

Part One: The Human Perspective

Introduction .................................................................................................................. 2The Straight Path and Ditches .......................................................................... 9

Part Two: Thoughts - Moments - Places

Fate .................................................................................................................................... 16Vietnam .......................................................................................................................... 19Mayor’s Citizen’s Assistance Center .............................................................. 20Sudan ............................................................................................................................... 21Uncle Saleh’s Restaurant/We Remember the British.......................... 22He Said Yes ................................................................................................................... 26Spies ................................................................................................................................. 27Somalia ........................................................................................................................... 29We Are Fighters, Not Singers ........................................................................... 30Violence ......................................................................................................................... 33Somalia Questions .................................................................................................. 41Welcome to UNOSOM .......................................................................................... 46We Accept..................................................................................................................... 46Roadblocks and Checkpoints ........................................................................... 48Accidental Likert Scale Demonstration .................................................... 50Your Face Is Your Passport ................................................................................ 53You Are Against Kismayo ................................................................................... 58Security by Militia Has Its Issues ................................................................... 59Back in Mogadishu at the Return and Resettlement Unit ............. 61Teach Them Peace .................................................................................................. 63Intervention Dilemmas: Human Rights ..................................................... 67Refugees and Hostages ...................................................................................... 78Chosen Traumas ...................................................................................................... 82The Matter of Humiliation ................................................................................ 85Kosovo............................................................................................................................. 88All Politics Are Local .............................................................................................. 88The Kosovo Conflict .............................................................................................. 92Post-conflict Intervention ................................................................................ 96About Dialogue and Community Affairs ................................................ 99Why? ............................................................................................................................. 104Tough Place .............................................................................................................. 105Other Business ....................................................................................................... 107Transitions ................................................................................................................ 108Parting Thoughts ................................................................................................. 110Afghanistan ............................................................................................................. 112So Many Wars, So Little Time ....................................................................... 112Conflict of Perceptions: Clash of Paradigms ........................................114Cultural Considerations ................................................................................... 115Primary Conflict: Intervention Conflict .................................................. 117In-house Conflict .................................................................................................. 119Bad Strategies, Bad Habits ............................................................................. 121

Part Three: The Conceptual Perspective

The Problem .............................................................................................................. 126Basic Frame ................................................................................................................ 128Stabilization and Peacebuilding Operation Basics ............................ 131Operationalized Negative and Positive Peace ...................................... 136Linkage of the Positive-peace Process to the Conflict-management Range .......................................................................................... 137Peacebuilding and Intent ................................................................................... 143A Sample Positive-peace-oriented Process ............................................. 145The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina .......................................................... 152Memory and Conflict ............................................................................................ 161Interventions into the Recent Bosnian War ............................................ 165General Considerations ....................................................................................... 165Stabilization ................................................................................................................ 166Resolutions, Peace Conferences, Operations, Protection .............. 166Reconstruction and Development ................................................................ 179Assessing the Bosnia Conflict Status .......................................................... 186Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments (MPICE) .................. 186Drivers of Conflict – and Institutional Performance ......................... 191Referencing the War to Sustainable Positive Peace Continuum220Comprehensive Multilevel Framework ..................................................... 226Implications, Conclusions, and Recommendations ........................... 239For Further Research, Theory, and Practice ........................................... 242For Peace and Stabilization Operations ................................................... 243What Now? ................................................................................................................. 248Final Thoughts ......................................................................................................... 249Appendix: Open-ended Question Responses ....................................... 252Open-ended Question 1 ..................................................................................... 252Open-ended Question 2 .................................................................................... 255Open-ended Question 3 .................................................................................... 261References ................................................................................................................. 266


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Links to Related Articles & Videos




1. Why I wrote this book, and why now:


2. My 2015 Alliance for Peacebuilding article on Bosnia:


3. George Mason University Dec. 15, 2021, Book Launch/Discussion Panel Video Link:


4. George Mason University Peace Week Apr. 6, 2022, Discussion Panel Video Link:


5. Featured Title Spotlight - Cambridge Scholars Publishing, May 10, 2022:


6. Article/Book Review in BalkanInsight news magazine, May 25, 2022:


7. Beyond Intractability/Conflict Resolution Quarterly Article, September 12, 2022:


8. Beyond Intractability Blog, September 12, 2022:

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