Book Review: Kate O’Neill, The Environment and International Relations

Date01 January 2020
Published date01 January 2020
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 83
rather misperceived a military clash between the nuclear rivals and prepared to be
at the ‘forefront’ of mediating with a clear ‘de-escalation objective’ (pp. 147–8).
What did the US seek to deescalate? Did it overplay months of tension between
India and Pakistan to be a source of war when the ground situation did not point
towards such an eventuality? Was the security situation hyped to make the US a
critical factor in peacemaking in South Asia? In light of these questions, can one
argue convincingly that the Mumbai attacks provide a weak case for brokered
bargaining as compared to the Kargil crisis and the 2001–2002 military standoff?
A critical analysis of the fallout of the Mumbai attacks and reinterpretation of US
role would tend to offer different views even while addressing some of the concerns
raised here.
Shortcomings and counter viewpoints do not outweigh the book’s rich contri-
bution to the field of crisis management. The author has painstakingly consulted
a vast array of theoretical and empirical literature and gathered a lot of primary
information from his several interviews with top policymakers, senior interlocu-
tors, scholars, analysts, etc. These have greatly enriched the analysis in the book
whose shelf life is definitely long.
P. Sahadevan
Professor, Centre for South Asian Studies
School of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi, India
Kate O’Neill, The Environment and International Relations (Second
Edition) (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 287 pp.
US$ 31.99, ISBN 978-1-107-67171-3 (Paperback).
DOI: 10.1177/0020881719893557
The path towards comprehending global politics and governance relating to the
environment is not only demanding but also multifaceted in nature. In fact, the
dynamics of international politics does not function in isolation, but is heavily
dependent on and shaped by the prevalent themes of global environmental gov-
ernance (GEG). This book does not constrict itself towards solely recognizing
the problems but also delves into the theoretical side of it. Its interdisciplinary
character is precisely what Kate O’Neill attempts to shed light on by drawing
upon the wide range of theories and tools from different disciplines, such as
international relations, sociology, science and technology studies (STS), politi-
cal ecology to name a few (p. 21). In order to give the reader a comprehensive
idea about the present status of environmental governance, she draws upon the
(neo) realist, (neo) liberal and constructivist traditions of international coopera-
tion vis-a-vis the critical theories. Initially, the book sets the tone by laying
down the existing ‘sites and modes of GEG’ (p. 8). This theoretical framework
offered by the book in the introduction builds the tenor of discussion for some

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