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.
Colin Rule is CEO of Mediate.com. From 2017 to 2020 Colin was Vice President for Online Dispute Resolution at Tyler Technologies. Tyler acquired Modria.com, an ODR provider Colin co-founded, in 2017. From 2003 to 2011 Colin was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO and President. Colin worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.
Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002, and co-author of The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection, published by the ABA in 2017. He received the first Frank Sander Award for Innovation in ADR from the American Bar Association in 2020, and the Mary Parker Follett Award from the Association for Conflict Resolution in 2013. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997. You can read many of his articles and see some of his talks at colinrule.com/writing.