Classical Model of Negotiation and Current "Debacle" with Iran

Category: Featured, Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Iran Channel: Opinion Views: 3297
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Union stewards and management representatives may lose their jobs should they botch up a negotiation dealing with a labor demand. A failure could end up in a labor strike or a management lockout. That would be costly to both parties as well as to third parties.

Labor knows what it wants and will not settle below that level. Management knows how much its P&L could tolerate as it relents to the terms of labor. By Law, Bad Faith negotiation is disallowed. This means changing a party's demand by asking for more, in the case of Labor, or reducing the offer, in the case of Management, once the negotiation gets going. This type of behavior may indicate fishing to discover other party's position or engaging in sabotage. 

Every successful negotiation involves give and take. The trick is to create a Bargaining Zone wherein the horse-trade may take place. So, at the outset of the negotiation, the seeker must ask for more than they are willing to settle for and the giver must propose less than are actually able to give. Then, the seeker can reduce his demand while the giver can increase his giving. Now, when representative personnel lacks knowledge and is poorly trained, being too nave, kind, gentle, giving, etc., he is likely to blow the negotiation and end up with an impasse or worse. None should reveal their bottom line first because they cannot go back and resubmit their revised proposal because that would be Bad Faith negotiation regardless of whether there are legal barriers to such moves.

So, negotiation may fail owing to a failure of process when Labor fails to start with a demand above its minimum acceptable point, or when Management counters with an offer above its maximum tolerable point. Additionally, negotiation may also fail because one or both parties are playing a game.

There are still two other insidious ways a negotiation may fail. One, this happens when the negotiation is simply a show toward some other end. Two, when non-negotiability becomes one of the conditions of negotiation. The latter is an oxymoronic position to hold while looking to negotiate. Perhaps both these "failures" may be grouped under the concept of Bad Faith negotiation.

In successfully concluded negotiations, parties may meet half way, split the difference as it were. From a position of strength or with a capacity to impose, the exchange may be very lopsided. It may give temporary victory to one party, but it is likely to be unsavory in the long run. The Treaty of Versailles post the WWI is such a case in point.

Today, in the pivotal negotiation between the West (China and Russia are really incidental players) and Iran, we hear about Iran's intransigence. But for the past thirty years we have been hearing the same accusation. Were they real or propaganda? Very few western news agencies and journalists have been intrepid enough to go that far to investigate. In fact they have perpetuated it. The reporting alternatively has been that they were Iran's undoing, Islam's flaw, a Shia-Sunni thing, or Iranian leadership's blather - arrogance and overreach. Given the expansive borders of the West and the limited reach of fair journalism, somewhere or another debate kept being reignited. So, the argument kept changing and recycling, thereby no debate was really defined and no dialogue closed. It has been a methodically managed chain link of hearsays and innuendos.

Now, if these negotiations have been designed as instruments of proxy war, they will not succeed. A real war will have to be fought for that. Of course, several advance elements of that war is already at play for some time now. To the extent Iran feels them as warlike, and that is exactly what we in the West intended for the sanctions to feel, then Iran has two options: Enter negotiation submissively as a defeated party or about to be defeated party by even stiffer and violent means, or ask that these non-negotiation matters go away before undertaking to exchange meaningfully at the negotiation table.

So, what should Iran do: Do the bidding or do the negotiating? Is Iran negotiating for its existence or is it negotiating for its rights to nuclear technology?

For all of West's academic and diplomatic knowhow and skill brought to bear repeatedly in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow, the intellectual merit rings hollow. Why else would a war be disguised as a negotiation and be expected to succeed? But Machiavelli never intended to be intellectual in a fair, kind way. He wanted the intellectualism of craftiness and dominance. But in these negotiations, the P5 + 1 are faced with Iran and Islam. The latter combination is not going to wilt. For the West, the gains from getting its biddings done are enormous. By breaking Iran, it will break the current modern reincarnation of Islam even if it has been made lame and limp, a shadow and a clown of its real self - with the 'potent' being subtracted from her potential, through decades of hounding and outright evisceration. Iran, like many other thoughtful, fair-minded people around the world without fancy degrees and manicured lawns, realizes what the West is after: what it has been after all along.

In recent decades, two rules have emerged to undertake unpopular wars (unpopularity defined by count of American deaths, as I have argued before and as has MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, presumably, in her new book, The Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power) - create facts on ground and insulate yourself by having many nations in the bellicose nation's corner. In my short historic memory brought on by plain sight rather than by erudition, we saw facts on ground created with ever enlarging settlements in occupied Palestine or by the Serbians when they dug into large chunks of Bosnia. When President Clinton tried to negotiate "Peace" in Palestine, he wanted to mimic the oft-bitten, discolored pear solution that he "helped" to win freedom which is today's inoperable Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Palestinians were expected to overlook, bypass and allow room for these settlements. Somehow the kindly and badly cornered Israeli government lacked the political will to deal with settlements it had ceremoniously and religiously created. Instead of a temporary reality to be negotiated away, they expected the negotiations to take place as if the settlements were of no consequence and that they were there to stay. Next, Israel worked hard to make this option US' position, also.

In fact, the feather in her cap came when the US took Israel's position vis-a-vis Iraq. Even the Congress spoke with voice of the Knesset. Then, the US used its position to swing over the UN. The economic weaknesses of China and Russia - their dependency on the US for either trade or finance - made the US agenda secure in the Security Council. The fact on the ground to vilify Iraq was the "proof" of yellow cake purchase from Niger and search for the holy grail of WMD was on!

Now, what is the "fact" on the ground for immolating Iran? There are two, in fact! Supposedly, Iran's President is set to wipe out Israel. That rhetoric is the first strike. It does not matter how many times the West has spoken about regime change in Iran and how many times it has tried to do that directly and indirectly. Secondly, that Iran has undertaken purification of uranium. It does not matter that there are other facts on the ground: By some accounts, Israel possesses about 130 nuclear weapons. It has delivery means by air and by sea. It is fortified by the US' willingness and agreement to stand by it by all necessary means. That by bombing Israel not only will Iran face massive retaliation, it will also have killed the very people in whose defense it has stood up. It is Israel that has occupied Palestine since 1967 (ignoring 1948, etc.) and has killed and incarcerated thousands upon thousands of defenseless Palestinians. It is the West that has introduced nuclear weapon use in the Middle East through the two Gulf Wars by littering the area with 300 tons of carcinogenic, spent nuclear fuel based armories, a waste product no state wants to house for thousands of years. It is the West that inflicted 500,000 deaths on Iraq through 10 years of embargo. It is the US' undocumented war methods that ravaged Fallujah, Iraq. Now, it is haunted with countless cancers and innumerous aborted, premature and disfigured births. It is an Islamic state, for which Iran has taken decades of put down. At the same time, Islam educates Iran not to go nuclear for there are limits to the form of Jihad Islam allows. Yet, to the West, this simply does not register. The West has never bothered to understand Iran or Islam. It is still debating whether Islam is a cult and whether the Prophet was a petty brigand and a profligate? It does not matter how recently Israel has threatened Turkey with Armenian resolutions in the US Congress and France and how that matter was inserted as a foreign policy question during the recent presidential debate of the Republican Party. As I wrote earlier, "In fact, Rick Perry's name-calling of Turkey in South Carolina's Republican debate held on MLK Day was not in response to a real international relations question. It was a masked threat from AIPAC to Turkey. If it did not watch out, Turkey could be reduced to next Iraq or Iran by the irascible Israel. Perhaps it could even instigate Kurdish rebel forces from Northern Iraq to attack Turkey's military as it is capable of feeding and fomenting others from that region to punish Iran."

Now, Israel has worked very hard and long to make sure the Palestinians have no voice of their own or any that is a proxy. Egypt has been long co-opted. It is hard to imagine that by unilaterally signing a peace treaty with Israel, the late and much beloved to the West, President Anwar Sadat was giving up the rights of the Palestinians. Perhaps he just wanted it to be handled differently. But whatever his intent may have been, they were overtaken by his assassination. However, it is not clear that Israel had wanted this miserable state for the Palestinians all along as it signed the peace treaty or it stumbled on to this option upon Sadat's assassination. So, for three decades, Iran has been the lone proxy voice for the disenfranchised and disemboweled Palestinians. Turkey could be another voice, too. But compared to Iran, it is a new kid on the block. For Israel's long run strategy about Palestine, Iran's talkativeness has been the bane. Having systematically eliminated the Iraqi voice and sapped its physical capacity whatsoever, Israel would love to see Iran likewise disposed. Facts have been created, nurtured and propagated and votes counted toward this end.

Believe it or not!

So, here we are negotiating with Iran. We hardly possess a green thumb to make good things grow out of this conversation. We are so ulterior motive bound; we can view this negotiation period as an interlude to war. We are following up an untruth with an astonishing demand - Iran is not to be trusted followed by telling it that because of this mistrust, which is solely its making, it must agree to forgo any technological ambition in this field whatsoever ad infinitum.

Now, while all this was percolating, the West may have learned a thing or two from Israel. Therein I pin a little hope that perhaps some good will come from this exercise. You see nobody can now stand up to Israel. Owing to this, a reverse UN had to be cobbled together by the US. The first formal type of UN was made to shut out the likes of North Korea, Iraq and Iran. The newer ad hoc version, with the addition of Germany (Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Poland, India, etc. should have been added), has been put together to stand up to Israel. However, it does not bode well for my theory that the US ambassador to P5 + 1, Wendy Sherman, shuttles to Israel before even going to DC after the close of negotiation sessions.

*****

Dr. Shafi A. Khaled is a freelance writer. He teaches and does research in Business & Economics.


  Category: Featured, Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Iran  Channel: Opinion
Views: 3297

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