The debate over the relevance of preventive diplomacy is rich and entertaining. This paper will not address the debate directly except to argue here that it often degenerates into a false choice. One need not reject the entire corpus of neo‐realist thinking about the nature of armed conflicts to accept the importance and relevance of conflict prevention. For a concise set of examples summarising the debate itself, see Stedman (1995) and the rejoinder by Lund (1996). A thoughtful treatment of the shortcomings of realist critiques of preventive diplomacy can be found in Jentleson (2000).