Thoughts on the Failure of Negotiations in the Gulf
By Dean Peachy
This Article Summary written by: Mariya Yevsyukova, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: Peachy, Dean. "Thoughts on the Failure of Negotiations in the Gulf." Conflict Resolution Notes. V. 8, No. 4. April 1991. Pp. 32-33.
Dean Peachy comes to two conclusions about the failure of negotiated solutions to the conflict in the Gulf. According to him, it was either because the leaders were simply incapable of constructive conflict management or that parties preferred force to negotiations. The following facts made him think this way. (1) Economic sanctions were not given enough time to produce an incentive for negotiations. Economic embargo is not a technique capable of reversing the opponent's position, rather it pressures the other side to engage in negotiations where solutions can be created.
(2) Negotiations presuppose separation of personalities and issues, and concentration on interests rather than positions. Neither of these happened in this case. The Iraqi leader was pronounced by American media the "Butcher of Baghdad" and the American President was called by Iraqis the "Great Satan in the White House." Demonization prevented negotiations because the above perceptions mandated force as the only appropriate method of dealing with the opponent. Secretary of State Baker, before meeting with the Iraqi leader, stated that he was not going to negotiate with Hussein but to demand compliance. Parties were focused on personalities rather than issues and positions rather than interests.
Dean Peachy offers two plans for action for conflict resolution practitioners, depending on the reasons for negotiation failure: (1) educate politicians in constructive conflict management techniques and (2) make the public more aware of the danger of resolving conflicts by force.