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Race ToThe Bottom

by Colin Rule
June 2007

From Colin Rule's blog.

Colin Rule

Kristof in today's Times: '“We see war coming,” Mr. Nkunda said, and he pulled out his laptop to show a map indicating that various government-backed forces are being dispatched to attack him. He added: “The only reply to war and ammunition is war and ammunition.”
 
I told him — a bit nervously — that such tribalism and fighting has torn apart a country that should be one of Africa’s richest. But Mr. Nkunda, who quotes Gandhi, emphasized that what counts here is simply force. “You go by strength,” he said.'
 
Whatever aspirations one has for peace, the truism that Mr. Nkunda speaks above cannot be denied. If someone responds to your negotiation offer with a fist, it is almost impossible to resist responding in kind. Likewise if they respond with a knife, or a gun, or a bomb. It is truly a race to the bottom, where a single player who defects (resorts to violence) can compel all the other players to do the same.
 
Only Ghandi proposed a solution -- non-violence. I remain awed by the power of his faith and commitment, but I can't get mind to follow him to that place. I think Kristof's description of the Congo is a good example of the very clear limits of non-violence. Sad, but true.

Biography


Colin Rule has worked at the intersection of technology and conflict resolution for the last two decades. He is CEO of Modria.com, an online dispute resolution service provider in Silicon Valley, and a non-resident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. From 2003 to 2011, he served as eBay and PayPal's first director of Online Dispute Resolution, designing and implementing systems that now resolve more than 60 million disputes each year. Mr. Rule is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has presented and trained around the world for organizations including the U.S. Department of State, UNCITRAL, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, as well as teaching at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, Southern Methodist University, and Hastings College of the Law. He has written and been interviewed extensively about the Internet since 1999, with columns and articles appearing in ACResolution, Consensus, Dispute Resolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He holds a master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a B.A. in peace studies from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.



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Website: www.modria.com

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