The Middle East Conflict

The purpose of this research paper will be to assess and analyze specific principles and theories of negotiation and conflict management as reflected by a specific story of the Middle East peace process within the named article. The article is entitled “The Wounds Of Peace,” by Connie Bruck. This, of course, is one individual author’s perspective, yet, nevertheless, it is the view of this author that much of the content is historically factual and accurate, with a definite sense of individual perspectives as purported by the author.

To the greatest extent, this author shall attempted to meet those requirements as per the related principles and theories of negotiation and conflict management. Similarly, this will take place within the context of the Middle East peace process, guided within a specific time and place. To a large extent, this author should also like to state that his perspectives will emanate from those theories and principles which are rooted within negotiation and conflict management.

Probably, no where else on this Earth (with the possible exception of Northern Ireland) are the principles and theories of negotiation and conflict management more contentious than those that exist within the Middle East To begin with, this author should like to offer some brief background as to the content of “The Wounds Of Peace” prior to my assessment. “The Wounds Of Peace” is a label which the author has applied to attempts of leaders of various countries throughout the Middle East to come to terms and create, or forge a partnership.

To this extent, the author cites a process that began in Oslo, and, as the author states “One that compelled fiercely reluctant men on both sides to forge some of the most unlikely and creative partnerships in the history of diplomacy. ” (Bruck, p. 4) The chief players throughout this scenario include Benjamin Netanyahu, Yasir Arafat, Shimon Peres, as well as others. The author begins with a discussion of a visit with Shimon Peres, who had been succeeded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Peres had expressed serious trepidation regarding his successor and his ability to handle the complex diplomatic aspects relating to the various strategies and tactics regarding the peace process and conflict management. To a large extent, it must be stated that the players, the respective geographical areas, and the positions they hold amongst each other(s) are highly complex. In fact, it is virtually impossible to define the role as well as its multidimensional ramifications in terms of diplomacy, and the many principles and theories of negotiation and conflict management as is the case.

Based upon the article by the New Yorker, there exists clear sympathies or empathies for certain players, specifically, Peres and Rabin; whereas Arafat is portrayed as a somewhat ignominious character, who extends his hand for the purported purpose of establishing peaceful relationships, but one is not led to fully believe this, based upon the illustration as portrayed within the New Yorker. In one section of the article, the question is asked — “Is Israel alone? “(Bruck, p. 3) Within this section, the author alludes to Peres’ wanton destruction of his country’s security by consorting with Israel’s purported enemy.

The question which crosses my mind is whether or not peace is salvageable, if solvable as well. R. Bolton states that conflict is unavoidable, and to be human is to experience conflict. (Bolton, p. 25)He maintains that there exists specific benefits of conflict, as well, and categorizes these into both realistic as well as non-realistic conflict. Furthermore, he adds that social scientists have discovered that love only endures when dissension is faced openly. In an excerpt from his book “Love And Conflict,” sociologist Gibson Winter writes “Most families today need more honest conflict and less suppression of feeling… here are obviously proper times and occasions for conflicts.

No one benefits from the random expression of hostile feelings. There are, however, occasions when these need to emerge… we cannot find personal intimacy without conflict… love and conflict are inseparable. ” (Bolton, p. 45) This reminds me of Mr. Peres’ observation that “Deep in my own thinking, I felt we could not remain a Jewish people without a moral code. I thought that being Jewish, the real meaning is to give preference to the moral consideration. If we don’t do it… beauty, you have in Paris, more, wine, music.

The only thing that give Jewish history its wine and perfume is really the moral consideration. ” (Bruck, p. 3). The larger players involved must be cognizant of the many vagaries as relates to negotiation and conflict management. It is not enough to be a politician, and a master at diplomacy, but a human being and someone who can read others well. This also applies to situations, and as Mr. Peres points out, this is steeped within Jewish history. A dispute begins when one person or organization makes a claim or demand on another who rejects it.

The claim may arise when a perceived injury or from a need or aspiration. (Boulding, p. 12) When the miner complains to the shift boss about the stolen boots, he was making a claim that the company should take responsibility and remedy his perceived injury. The shift boss’ rejection of the claim turned it into a dispute. To resolve a dispute means to turn opposed positions — the claim and its rejection — into a single outcome. The resolution of the boots dispute might have been a negotiated agreement, an arbitrator’s ruling, or a decision by the miner to drop his claim or by the company to grant it.

The author makes numerous points that interests, rights, and power are three basic elements of any dispute. In resolving a dispute, the parties may choose to focus their attention on one or more of these basic factors. At the same time, peace in theMiddle East is a complicated affair, as indicated at the outset of this research paper, and some success was made several years ago in Oslo wherein the rudiments of a peace process was constructed. Shimon Peres points out that his fear is that Prime Minister Netanyahu will not understand and will not do the right thing.

He acknowledges that the government is still in the world of rhetoric — yet, making compromises is an unpleasant thing, and it must be done if peace is to survive. At least this is the sense that I received clearly from the words of Mr. Peres. He further criticizes Prime Minster Netanyahu for some of his actions, including appearing at a rally on a podium draped with a banner that read, “Death To Arafat! ” This of course, runs contrary to every conceivable and viable principle and theory of negotiation and conflict management — particularly as exists throughout the Middle East.

Much has been written regarding those principles and techniques surrounding conflict management. This has evidenced it self both on a domestic level as well as an international one, and within C. Kennedy’s “Managing Public Disputes,” which is published as a “Practical Guide To Handling Conflict And Reaching Agreements” the author acknowledges that disputes over public issues comes in all sizes and shapes. They are caught between communities and their decisions makers, between factions in government, between organizations, and between organizations and the people.

Few people enjoy dealing with conflicts and public disputes exhibit specific characteristics. (Kennedy, p. 11) There may also be a complicated network of interests (as is the case throughout the Middle East), and new parties may emerge. Similarly, a variety of decision making procedures may be utilized for the purpose of establishing negotiation and conflict management. The author further states that conflict is dynamic. Unmanaged conflicts seldom stay constant for long. Simple solutions that might have worked in the beginning may be ineffective and even cause more damage if they are attempted when the conflict is fully developed.

For example, restoring communication between warring factions will simply make matters worse if the wrong people do the talking or if the parties no longer trust each other. (Kennedy p. 47) In the case of the many players throughout the Middle East, the United States has served, to a large extent, as arbitrator. Similarly, one can go back to the Administration of one President Jimmy Carter, who managed to negotiate, as a third party or arbitrator, a peace process amongst both Presidents Anwar Sadat and Prime Minster Begin. (Ben-Dor, p. 78)Nevertheless, the negotiator faces many tedious obstacles which are not always overcomeable.

For example, values and tension throughout the Middle East consistently impede both the abilities and efforts of the many players immediately involved to apply the principles and techniques of conflict management for the purpose of total peace throughout all of the Middle East. The fact of the matter is that the geopolitical structure as well as many factions are highly fragmented throughout the Middle East. (McKinley, p. 23) Even Yasir Arafat cannot speak for all of the so-called enemies of the Jewish people, as with him, and the same with Mr. Peres, any move towards compromise is seen as being a traitor.

In fact, Peres as well as Rabin (Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) was referred to as one for chancing the move of compromise towards a final settlement of total peace throughout the Middle East. Both of these images of negotiation are incomplete and inadequate. Value creating and value claiming are linked parts of negotiation. Both processes are present. No matter how much creative problem solving enlarges the pie, it must still be divided; value that has been created must be claimed. And if the pie is not enlarged, there will be less to divide; there’s more value to be claimed if one has helped create it first. Sebenius, p. 33)

An essential tension in negotiation exists between cooperative moves to create value and competitive moves to claim it. (Sebenius, p. 35) In my opinion, there exists an onus amongst all parties involved to bring with them to the table a sense of negotiable element or value. The value that the negotiator brings with him for the benefit of the advisory must not be misleading and beneficial for all.

This is the negotiators’ dilemma, and one may envision a paradigm wherein the value may extent from one end of the continuum, possibly identifiable as anything from good to great to terrible to mediocre. Sebenius, p. 40) Nevertheless, the prospects for both implementing as well as establishing the principles and theories of negotiation and conflict management are incomplete absent the aforementioned. Throughout “The Wounds Of Peace,” and the contents therein, it appears that Mr. Peres’ attitude towards his successor may well indeed have validity. The negotiating of power requires a number of important elements beginning with its very definition.

From there, one may identify various categories of power as well as their legitimacy and commitments which relies heavily upon the power of knowledge. As one author states, there is a subtle but significant difference between communicating a warning of the course of action that I believe will be in my interest to take should we fail to reach agreement, and locking myself into precise terms that we must accept in order to avoid my taking that course of action. (Woodhouse, p. 20) Extending a warning is not the same as making a negative commitment.

If the United States honestly believes that deploying 100 MX Missiles is a vital part of its national security, then letting the Soviet Union know that in the absence of a negotiated settlement we intend to deploy them would appear to be a sound way to exerting influence. In these circumstances, the United States remains open to considering any negotiative agreement that would be better for us than the MX deployment. We are not trying to influence the Soviet Union by committing ourselves to refuse to accepting an agreement that would in fact be in our interest (in hopes of getting one even more favorable to us).

We are simply trying to influence them with the objective reality that deployment seems to be our best option in the absence of government. (Fisher, p. 56) Throughout this research paper, I would not attempt to address all of the intricacies of the many players, their titles, names, interests, ad infinitum, but I should like to highlight some of the more salient elements which I believe are particularly relevant to the theories and principles as related to conflict management.

As Bruck has stated in her New Yorker article, “difficult as achieving the Gaza-Jericho accords had been, the challenge they posed was dwarfed by that of Oslo II. In Gaza, there were about a dozen Jewish settlements, so the withdrawal of Israel troops from the Palestinian – populated areas there had been relatively straightforward. In the West Bank, the settlements were numerous — about 140 — and had been strategically dispersed. Peres, employing one his favor aphorisms, said, “You can make an omelet from eggs, but you cannot make eggs from an omelet, and, fortunately, that area -the West Bank- has been thoroughly omeletted. (Bruck, p. 9)

The players involved in the Middle East peace accord must be exclusively cognizant of the various strategies and tactics as related to the conflict management, in addition to all their other moral, political, cultural, social, geographical and allying responsibilities. A closely related proposition is that the political concept manager should seek to dispel the “worst case” fears that many contestants in a competitive policy debate will consciously or unconsciously bring to the bargaining table. (Fisher, p. 72)

This is perhaps an obvious but still significant proposition. The offer further states that as far as possible the leader of the conflict management process should require parties to the policy debate to express their arguments in ordinary language, or, in more difficult cases, to translate technical language into terms that are understandable to non specialists. Being here is straightforward. First, it is possible to have a competitive debate if different parties cannot understand what other contestants are talking about.

Anyone who has experienced a discourse between military people and foreign policy analysts or between financial analysts and production people would be immediately familiar with the tendency of these and other specialists to talk past each other. The results of such an untranslated discourse is a Tower of Babel. (Yates, pp. 131-131) It is inevitably the objective of the negotiator to arrive at an agreement, and in my opinion, communication is key. Similarly, how to make the best of one’s assets is the subject of scrutiny by Fisher and Ury.

They state that protecting yourself against a bad agreement is one thing. Making the most of the assets you have in order to produce a good agreement is another. (Fisher, p. 52) The many facets involved within the problem and the people are far too numerous to delineate within this writing. Nevertheless, the authors do at one point address peace in the Middle East when they allude to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty blocked out at Camp David in 1978, demonstrating the usefulness of looking behind positions.

Israel had occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula since the 6 Day War of 1967. (McKinley, p. 198) When Egypt and Israel sat together in 1978 to negotiate a peace, their positions were incompatible. Israel insisted on keeping some of the Sinai. Egypt, on the other hand, insisted that every inch of the Sinai be returned to Egyptian sovereignty. Time and again, people drew maps showing possible boundary lines that would divide the Sinai between Egypt and Israel. Compromising in this way was wholly unacceptable to Egypt.

To go back to the situation as it was in 1967 was equally unacceptable to Israel. The focus on interest instead of positions is all important. One useful rule of thumb is to give positive support to the human beings on the other side that is equal in strength to the vigor which may emphasize the problem. This combination of support and attack may seem inconsistent. Psychologically it is, the inconsistency helps make it work. A well known theory of psychology, the theory of cognitive dissonance, holds that people dislike inconsistency and will act to eliminate it. (Fisher, p. 5)

Most of what the negotiators had designed in both Gaza-Jericho and Oslo was to be put into effect by the military and security forces of the two sides. And, particularly in Oslo II, where the populations involved were so interlaced, where the agreements’ map looked (as Abu Alaha said with distaste) “Like a tiger skin,”(Bruck, p. 10) extensive cooperation between the two was mandated. The situation was highly problematic — as volatile, one might expect, between the two security forces as between the two populations whose security they were trying to protect, as stated within the New Yorker article.

One might ask how in the did they ever reach accord?! Much the same way, I believe, that they did at Camp David. Both leaders were willing to expose their vulnerabilities for the sake of peace. As a result, Mr. Sadat was assassinated, as was the case with Yitzhak Rabin. The complexities as well as the sensitivities which pervade the varied principles and theories of negotiation and conflict management, are, as indicated at the outset of this research paper, arguably the most complex on the planet.

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