How to Have Successful Negotiations

[Wall Street Journal] Dennis Ross - As a longtime negotiator involved with the Middle East, some may say that I have a natural bias for talking. That does not mean, however, that we should talk in any and all circumstances. At a minimum, we need to draw a basic distinction between states and nonstate actors. Nation states typically have a certain standing on the world stage. When we choose not to talk to them, we are not eroding their legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. Instead, we tend to make our unwillingness to talk the issue. We should want their egregious behaviors to be the focal point internationally, not our rejection of negotiations. For nonstate actors like Hamas and Hizbullah, the circumstances are different. They don't have standing internationally. They seek legitimacy on the world stage to prove the "inevitability" of their agenda and their goals. If achieving legitimacy is so important to them, then it is essential that they not get something for nothing. They should be required to meet certain conditions before we negotiate with them.

2008-05-26 01:00:00

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