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Life can only be understood backwards; yet it must be lived forwards.
When to Fight (10/05/14) Joe Markowitz President Obama's speech to the United Nations this week is worth reading to study the evolution of the president's foreign policy views in response to new and continuing conflicts around the world. With respect to such crises as Russian aggression toward Ukraine, preventing a nuclear Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president reiterated his belief in finding cooperative, negotiated solutions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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 . . ."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.