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Obama, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution


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Jeff Krivis


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Caseload Manager
Our plans often miscarry because they have no aim. When a person does not know what harbor his or she is making for, no wind is the right wind.

Abraham Miller
The Real Bergdahl Error (6/13/14)
Abraham Miller
For more than a decade, starting with a fellowship at the National Institute of Justice and subsequently conducting research in Europe and Israel, I studied hostage negotiations.   1 Comment

Jeff Murphy
Washington Shutdown and Divorce Mediation (10/04/13)
Jeff Murphy
Most of us who are trained mediators learned the process of “Principled Negotiation”. It’s the theory behind Roger Fisher and William Ury’s Great work -”Getting To Yes”. It teaches how to negotiate without compromising principles but by examining each parties’ positions and exploring the underlying needs and interests to create options that can help reach fair and equitable solutions and settlements.   1 Comment

Joe Markowitz
Bi-partisanship and Negotiation (8/27/12)
Joe Markowitz
Is a willingness to negotiate a sign of weakness? That seems to be the thrust of the critique of Thomas Frank, the latest prominent leftist critic of the Obama administration. Frank charges that Obama gave away too much to the right, because he stressed the importance of bi-partisanship, when he should have been fighting harder on substantive issues, such as punishing Wall Street bankers, or achieving more economic stimulus.

Joe Markowitz
How to Win (7/17/12)
Joe Markowitz
A piece in the New York Times last week called How Liberals Win, reminds us of the deals that FDR and LBJ made with corporate power in order to enact their signature reforms. What President Obama did to pass health care reform followed that tradition. But when the Obama administration made a deal with pharmaceutical companies to obtain their support for health insurance reform, many of his supporters viewed that agreement as a sell-out.

Anna Spain
The Rise of Civil Society (3/26/12)
Anna Spain
With the Kyoto Protocol expiring at the end of this year, international lawmakers have been gathering to find a productive process for resolving environmental conflict. Their conversations are an example of where international conflict resolution is headed and who the key players will be.

Joe Markowitz
Bi-Partisanship (1/30/12)
Joe Markowitz
Ryan Lizza's article, "The Obama Memos," in this week's New Yorker, contains some inside information explaining how candidate Obama's promises to usher in a new style of politics, ran into the realities of a Congress that is more partisan than ever before. Commentators like Paul Krugman have jumped on the bandwagon, chiding President Obama for being so naive in thinking he could "transcend partisanship."

Joe Markowitz
Mediator in Chief (7/11/11)
Joe Markowitz
In the budget negotiations going on in Congress, once again we see the president assuming the role of mediator.

Denise Tamir
Obama and the Middle East - A Mediator's Perspective (6/13/11)
Denise Tamir
In a sense, Obama holds himself out as a neutral, purporting to facilitate the Middle East peace talks as an outsider. When evaluating Obama's recent conduct using mediation methodology, however, Obama shows that he is anything but neutral.   3 Comments

Diane Cohen
A Graceful Exit (2/07/11)
Diane Cohen
As anyone who has observed history over the last century can attest, the handling of the situation in Egypt can yield results that range from the dire to the glorious. Obama’s conflict resolution skills may play a role in determining which way things will go.

Robert Benjamin
The Politics Of Professional Mediators: Are We As Neutral As We Pretend: A Rejoinder To Critics of ‘Obama As Negotiator in Chief’ (1/17/11)
Robert Benjamin
Mediators and negotiators are, after all, human. Notwithstanding this startling observation, however, many mediators seem to feel that their claim to “neutrality’ is somehow contaminated if their professional work is brought close to any discussion of politics---even if 98% of politics involves negotiation.   3 Comments

Lorraine Segal
President Obama’s Speech Offers Conflict Resolution Wisdom (1/17/11)
Lorraine Segal
President Obama gave an eloquent and inspiring speech last Wednesday January 12th at the Tucson Memorial for those killed in the massacre. Particularly impressive to to me were statements he made that captured the essence of conflict resolution principles and compassionate communication.

Larry Susskind
Do You Really Want To Be A "Tough" Negotiator? (1/10/11)
Larry Susskind
There it is again. In the New York Times today, William Daley, President Obama's new Chief of Staff, is described on the front page as "A Tough, Decisive Negotiator." If you read the article, they call him a "skilled negotiator" who is "blunt yet charming." Former Vice President Walter Mondale, says that Daley is "tough, but not a bully." Does tough really equal effective? No, I don't think so.

Robert Benjamin
Obama As “Negotiator In Chief”: A Help Or Hindrance For Professional Conflict Managers? (1/03/11)
Robert Benjamin
As President Obama negotiates his way through the myriad of difficult and complex issues, the public is observing his approach. Whether they see negotiation as the “cursed” process of the appeaser or sellout, as they have historically, or as an effective mode of conflict management that disposes people to negotiate or mediate difficulties in their own personal and business affairs, depends in large part on his example. This is a quick and dirty “arm chair” quarterbacking of his strategy--- or lack thereof.   3 Comments

Joe Markowitz
Negotiation Lessons From The President (12/13/10)
Joe Markowitz
The media seems preoccupied with trying to figure out which party gains politically and which party loses; who wins and who caves. Partisans on both the right and left seem anguished by how much each side had to "give up" to make a settlement. Watching the president explain the rationale for making a deal, I am struck by how hard he has to work to persuade these partisans of the necessity and justifications for the deal. It is remarkable how similar the president's rationales sound to the explanations lawyers and mediators have to provide for parties to a litigation, to justify the benefits of a settlement over the uncertainties of litigation.

Lee Jay Berman
Mediator Needed To Change Ground Zero Mosque Dialogue (8/30/10)
Lee Jay Berman
What this issue needs is a real dialogue, facilitated (mediated) by a professional who is expert at managing the emotions, the values and the discussion between representatives of the two groups. Give me Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and some of his leaders, along with some of the most vocal opponents, preferably from families of those who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and I will guarantee you a dialogue where each walks away having heard the other and having had their eyes opened to things that they had not realized before this discussion. Televise it, put it on the internet, and broadcast it over the radio, and we will educate hundreds of thousands with one discussion.

Colin Rule
A Strange Aversion To Confrontational Politics (8/16/10)
Colin Rule
John Judis in The New Republic: "Why has the White House failed to convince the public that it is fighting effectively on its behalf? The principal culprit is clearly Barack Obama. He has a strange aversion to confrontational politics...

John Folk-Williams
Can Government Solve Big Problems Collaboratively? (7/12/10)
John Folk-Williams
The Open Government Initiative of the Obama Administration has given high priority to increasing the use of collaboration in the federal government. Yet many federal offices have not in the past encouraged the sort of collaborative mindset that is necessary for meaningful efforts in this direction.

Colin Rule
Obama Meets The House Republicans (2/08/10)
Colin Rule
This video was UTTERLY MEZMERIZING to watch. Really an incredible event in modern American politics - it begins: "Part of the reason I accepted your invitation to come here was because I wanted to speak with all of you, and not just to all of you. So I'm looking forward to taking your questions and having a real conversation in a few moments. And I hope that the conversation we begin here doesn't end here; that we can continue our dialogue in the days ahead . . ."

Colin Rule
Don't Blow It (10/19/09)
Colin Rule
But that’s not just directed at Mr. Obama. It’s directed at all of us. What the president promised was a “global plan,” not an American plan. The same is true on all the other issues that the Nobel committee cited, from nuclear disarmament to climate change — none of these things will yield to unilateral approaches. They’ll take international cooperation and American leadership.

Diane J. Levin
A Dispute Resolution Quote Of Note (9/14/09)
Diane J. Levin
Here’s something for all of us, regardless of political persuasion, to think about as America debates the big issues:

Holly Hayes
Industry Responses To Medical Malpractice Reform In President Obama's Health Care Plan (9/14/09)
Holly Hayes
President Obama’s Plan on Health Care includes a provision on medical malpractice reform that instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award medical malpractice demonstration grants to states funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Phyllis Pollack
One Word (4/13/09)
Phyllis Pollack
Last week, there was a pretty important mediation. It involved a lot of parties - 20 to be exact - on a very important issue- the global economy. It took place in London and was co-mediated. The primary mediator - Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain- seemed to be doing a good job - moving all of the parties forward toward a resolution.

Colin Rule
Conflict Resolution Governance (3/30/09)
Colin Rule
The president tends to seek conflict resolution rather than drama. He has been compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, confronted with an economic crisis.

Kevin Forrester
Peace is Nonpartisan (3/30/09)
Kevin Forrester
Didn’t the party of peace win this election cycle? No, the party of peace didn’t win this election cycle. There is no party of peace.   3 Comments

Kenneth Cloke
Letter To President Obama (3/02/09)
Kenneth Cloke
Thank you. As conflict resolution professionals, practitioners and scholars, we have noticed and profoundly appreciate your efforts to change the process and tone of how differences are managed, both in Washington and around the world. We value your experience, understanding and commitment to conflict resolution, and offer our full support to you and your administration in your efforts to promote peace, collaboration, and consensus in domestic and international relations.   4 Comments

Jeff Thompson
Hillary Clinton: Currency Before Compassion? (2/23/09)
Jeff Thompson
Is this the same direction that we thought the Obama Administration was going to head in? What happened to Conflict Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation as well as Negotiation? For those who thought the USA planned on pressing China on human rights issues, newly appointed Secretary of State and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, said the following on her first to to Asia including China:

Joshua N. Weiss
Obama's Negotiation with Iran (2/23/09)
Joshua N. Weiss
In this podcast, Joshua Weiss discusses United States President Barack Obama's decision to consider the possibility of negotiations with Iran.

Alan Sharland
President Barack Obama's Effective Communication (2/16/09)
Alan Sharland
Well, President Obama is now making his mark on the world by speaking on the various issues that he will have to deal with over the next 4 years of his presidency. Already it is clear that he uses language that promotes effective communication and conflict resolution, and while I'm sure he is not an avid reader of this site and the Principles espoused on it, his means of communicating reflects many of the Principles that this site describes and the practice of mediation it draws its inspiration from.   1 Comment

Colin Rule
The Mediator-in-Chief (1/26/09)
Colin Rule
Well, I suppose no long time reader of this blog would be surprised to hear I'm in a good mood today. This has been a dark period in our nation's history, and I'm filled with optimism today that we'll be able to heal this nation and get back on the right path. Obama's words reaffirm my hope that he would bring an understanding of the importance of resolving conflicts into the Presidency.

James Melamed
Obama, Miracle on the Hudson and a Society of Collaborative Excellence (1/16/09)
James Melamed
What are the odds of Barack Obama becoming our President? And what are the odds of 155 passengers surviving a plane crash into the Hudson River? This is not everyday stuff. It is what is possible. It is what is best. Does all this portend a new culture of collaborative excellence?   7 Comments

Noa Zanolli
The First Conversation between President Barack Obama and President Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad (12/08/08)
Noa Zanolli
In the series of private and fictitious conversations among presidents and among state and non-state leaders that see each other as adversaries or even as enemies, comes this imagined dialogue between President Obama and President Ahmadinedjad. It takes place on Saturday, February 14, 2009 at the U.N. in Geneva.   2 Comments

Robert Benjamin
The Obama Presidency and the Future of the Conflict Management Business: The Mediative Leader and the Activist Mediator (11/05/08)
Robert Benjamin
While premature to presume, there is cause to believe, or at least to hope, based on the model of his presidential campaign that the leadership style and governance of President-Elect Barack Obama will be a boon to conflict management practice and a valuable endorsement of mediation.   8 Comments

Victoria Pynchon
Obama And The Politics Of Despair (10/21/08)
Victoria Pynchon
There's nothing like getting a new Harpers in the mail to upset my idealistic dreams of a new America flourishing under an Obama administration. Ouch! I read this magazine for the same reason I watch Fox News. To upset my own comfortable ideologies. That's the trouble with us liberals -- we're always fretting about being fair, when, according to Harper's Roger Hodge we're just a big bunch of conflict-avoidant pussies.

Robert Benjamin
People I Hate, Negotiation and the Presidential Election (9/03/08)
Robert Benjamin
What is the "right stuff" to mediate or negotiate with people whose values you detest and actions you hate? How the current presidential election tests our principles and thinking about negotiation and lessons to be learned from history.   11 Comments

Diane J. Levin
Barack Obama: mediator to a divided nation (9/02/08)
Diane J. Levin
In the days after the towers fell on September 11, 2001, Americans everywhere came together to honor the dead and demand justice. The world stood beside us, sharing our shock and grief. That unity proved short-lived. “You’re either with us or against us” became U.S. foreign policy, alienating long-time allies. Pursuit of war against Iraq tore Americans apart as the U.S. divided into two opposing camps, red state from blue. Earlier this year, conservative pundit Rush...

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