Summary of "From Confrontation to Cooperation: Resolving Ethnic and Regional Conflict"

Summary of

From Confrontation to Cooperation: Resolving Ethnic and Regional Conflict

By Jay Rothman

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Jay Rothman. From Confrontation to Cooperation: Resolving Ethnic and Regional Conflict. London: Sage Publications, 1992, 246 pp.

From Confrontation to Cooperation presents a new conceptual framework for understanding and resolving protracted ethnic conflicts.

From Confrontation to Cooperation will be of interest to those who seek a better understanding of the sources of ethnic conflict, and of possible paths toward resolution of protracted conflicts generally. This work is divided into ten chapters in grouped in three parts.

Chapters One through Four emphasize the theory of conflict resolution. Chapter One reviews the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The authors derive a model of ethnic conflict from this case. Their model emphasizes the perspective of people and their communities over broader concerns for national interest. Chapter Two then discusses attempts at initiating constructive dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, again deriving a more general model of ethnic conflict resolution from these cases. The author describes four different approaches to initiating peaceful dialogue: the positional dialogue approach, the activist approach, a problem-solving approach, and the human relations approach. He describes the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and sketches his own model, a synthetic dialogue approach. Chapter Three turns toward theories of conflict management more broadly, drawing on the case of the Middle East. Rothman contrasts an interest-based adversarial approach to conflict resolution, to a needs- based integrative approach. He concludes this chapter by presenting a conflict management framework designed to facilitate transition from an adversarial approach to an integrative one. Chapter Four then offers more specific approaches to peace-making for deep and protracted conflicts, using Rothman's transitional model. Chapter Four argues that effective conflict resolution requires recognizing and often changing basic assumptions and conceptual frameworks about conflict.

Chapters Five through Seven emphasize the practice of conflict management through a series of case studies. Chapter Five discusses conflict management training workshops via the Nazareth case: a series of workshops held between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Chapter Six explores the use of workshop methodology in conflict management policy-making, drawing upon the Taba case. Chapter Seven describes a "piece by piece" approach to peace-making, drawing upon the Jerusalem problem for illustration. The "piece by piece" approach "prescribes that parties locked in deep conflict defuse its intensity, break down its apparent intractability, and promote mutual confidence for cooperative problem solving by addressing subproblems and functional issues one by one."[165]

The final sections of the text consist of three applications. Application A offers a conflict resolution and training script. Typical workshop facilitators' questions are presented, with discussion and explanation of each. Application B demonstrates the broader applicability of the theoretical insights of Chapters one through Four, by analyzing ethnic conflict in Cyprus, and a racial conflict in the United States. Application C presents materials for running educational simulations of the sorts of workshops describes in earlier chapters.

From Confrontation to Cooperation offer a fresh understanding of the process of ethnic conflict resolution. The authors theoretical frameworks are illustrated by reference to various cases, particularly from the Middle East.