By Patricia H. Kushlis
A must-read article on international negotiations has just appeared in the September/October 2009 Foreign Affairs magazine.
Unfortunately, the article entitled “Without Conditions,” plays sixth fiddle to those that precede it. Moreover, it is squeezed in just before a special - heavily featured - section devoted to climate change. Besides that you have to be a subscriber, buy the article, or visit a library with a subscription to read it.
There’s reams of just plain good common sense crammed into “Without Conditions.” My suggestion for those short on time is to forget the hype and the special and concentrate on six pages of jargon-free English aimed at US and Israeli policy makers in particular - especially those looking to employ quiet diplomacy in dealing with relations with adversaries - as well as for the rest of us who just want to understand better how a country can succeed at the bargaining table in resolving seemingly irresolvable differences without resorting to a call to arms.
Yet, if you don’t look carefully, “Without Conditions” (pp. 84-90) will most likely pass you by. That’s a mistake because author and Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra raises some of the most important dilemmas facing this country today: when to negotiate with an enemy, and what, if any, preconditions to insist upon before doing so.
The preconditions dilemma