Voting Against Peace

by Joe Markowitz
October 2016

Mediation's Place by Joe Markowitz

Joe Markowitz

On Sunday voters in Colombia surprisingly rejected a peace agreement that took the parties years to negotiate. The agreement would have ended more than 50 years of a civil war  that has pitted the government against the rebel FARC army. This setback for the cause of peace comes the same week that Israel buried Shimon Peres, one of the country's great peacemakers, the same month when a hard-won ceasefire in Syria seems to have collapsed, the same year that the United Kingdom voted to pull out of the EU treaty that has helped keep the peace in Europe for a generation, and the same year that has seen the growth around the world of nationalist movements, and of fears of trade and foreigners. In the United States, our political system has been disrupted by a campaign based largely on opposition to trade, hostility to outsiders, and distrust of diplomatic solutions to foreign conflict.

What is going on? Are people tired of making the compromises necessary to obtain peace? Is the world suddenly in a more warlike mood? Do people prefer to maintain their principles, their grudges, their hatreds? Or are we simply facing an upsurge in second-guessing the results of negotiated agreements, based on popular distrust of political leaders? Many people who did not participate in the negotiations of the Colombia peace agreement, just like the Iran disarmament agreement, or the TPP for that matter, apparently believe that better deals may be obtained if their side just acts "tougher" at the bargaining table.

In the case of Colombia, it is understandable that a generation that has grown up with violent conflict is reluctant to let go without a more satisfactory settling of scores. Opposition to the peace agreement seems to be based on a combination of distrust of the enemy the nation has been fighting for so long, and an unwillingness to accept its members back into society. The former president of Colombia, an opponent of the treaty, said that peace is an illusion, and that the proposed peace agreement was too forgiving of the rebels.

The good news, though, is that both sides in Colombia seem to be tired of fighting, and agreed at least on the idea that violence is not the best solution to conflict. Perhaps they will at least lay down their arms, even if they haven't yet been able to come to terms that their constituents will accept.

Biography


Joseph C. Markowitz has over 30 years of experience as a business trial lawyer.  He has represented clients ranging from individuals and small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations.  He started practicing with a boutique litigation firm in New York City, then was a partner in a large international firm both in New York then in Los Angeles, then returned to practicing with a small firm and on his own.  In addition to general commercial litigation, Mr. Markowitz has expertise in  intellectual property, employment law, entertainment law, real estate, and bankruptcy litigation.  Mr. Markowitz has managed his own firm since 1994. Mr. Markowitz was trained as a mediator more than 15 years ago, and has conducted a substantial number of mediations as a member of the Mediation Panels in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the District Court and Bankruptcy Court in  the Central District of California, as well as private mediations.  He has served since 2010 as a board member of the Southern California Mediation Association.   



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