Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers
Chapter 27: International Negotiation and Conflict Prevention
I. William Zartman 27.1 INTRODUCTION Literally innumerable violent interstate conflicts have been prevented and non-violent conflicts handled by the practice of normal diplomacy, with negotiation as the prime means of dealing with them. In fact, given the number of pairs of states with relations with each other (interstate dyads), violent conflict is extremely rare, which is what makes the event so striking. Because it is a costly distraction from productive peaceful relations, violent conflict is a prime target for prevention; however, it is also an occasional pursuit of states, either by mistake, by entrapment or because it is seen to involve goals that are important or attainable to one of the parties. Prevention depends on early warning, and early warnings abound (Verstegen 1999; Dorn 2004). Academic analyses and government files are filled with indications of the causes and signs of war, even if the exact dates of the crash are not predictable. Less prolific is early awareness and early action, that is, the ability to listen, hear and act on the early warnings. The real need is to overcome such problems as scenario unreliability (“the tropical storm problem”), bureaucratic inertia (“the three-monkeys’ problem”), current crisis’ overshadowing of future dangers (“the smokeand-fire problem”), repeated false warnings (“the cry-wolf problem”) and other impediments to policymakers’ hearing and responding to the many visible signs of impending conflict (Zartman and Faure 2005). Surprises in this business are rare, but deafness is widespread. Awareness and action require a conscious decision to give attention and credit...
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