MBI Newsletter Archive

Newsletters are shown here in reverse chronological order, meaning most recent first.  Use the Table of Contents below to see a specific newsletter.

Table of Contents

2017 Newsletters

Newsletter 1  - April 2, 2017 Newsletter 2  - April 18, 2017
Newsletter 3  - May 26, 2017 Newsletter 4  - June 8, 2017
Newsletter 5 - June 28, 2017 Newsletter 6 - July 31, 2017
Newsletter 7 - Sept. 20, 2017 Newsletter 8 - December 8, 2017


2018 Newsletters

Newsletter 9  March 21, 2018 Newsletter 10 -  March 21, 2018
Newsletter 11  - April 4, 2018  

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter # 11 --  April 4, 2018

About Moving Beyond Intractability Newsletters

Important information about the Newsletters, sign-up procedures, and strategies for overcoming possible delivery problems is found at the end of this Newsletter along with information about BI's recent security problems and our new web hosting service.  Also available are past newsletters: #9#10, and the 2017 Newsletter Archive.

Things YOU Can Do To Help Blog

  • Sound the Alarm -- People don't realize how destructive their conflict behaviors often are: we must sound the alarm to spur change!

Conflict Frontiers Seminar

Unit 2: Pushing the Frontier: the Limits of Business-as-Usual Approaches

Conflict Fundamentals Seminar

Unit 2: Core Concepts

Beyond Intractability in Context Blog

BI Newsletters and General Announcements

Late March Website Problems -- During the last week of March our web hosting service suddenly failed to administer our SSL Certificate correctly.  This meant that site visitors received one of several possible of "Danger – Insecure Website" errors.  The inability of the hosting service to fix this forced us to switch traffic to an emergency site (mbi-moos) while we relocated Beyond Intractability to a new web hosting service. During this transition, we suspended publication of new seminar and blog content.  The new system is now up, secure, and everything is working correctly.  This newsletter highlights our latest postings.  That said, there is still a small possibility that you could encounter website problems. If you do, please contact  us and we can get them fixed.  We apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused.

Every week or so, we will compile posts from the Frontiers Seminar, the Fundamentals Seminar, the Things Everyone Can Do to Help Blog, and the Beyond Intractability in Context Blog into a Newsletter that will be posted here and sent out by email to subscribers. You can sign up to receive your copy on our Newsletter Sign Up Page and find all past newsletters on our Newsletter page.

NOTE! If you signed up for this Newsletter and don't see it in your inbox, it might be going to one of your other emails folder (such as promotions, social, or spam).  Check there or search for news@beyondintractability.org, and if you still can't find it, please contact us.

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter # 10 --  March 21, 2018

NOTE! If you signed up for this Newsletter and don't see it in your inbox, it might be going to one of your other emails folder (such as promotions, social, or spam).  Check there or search for news@beyondintractability.org, and if you still can't find it, please contact us.

This newsletter is the first substantive newsletter of our spring seminars, so the posts shown here for the Fundamentals and Frontiers Seminars, as well as the Things YOU Can Do To Help Blog are starting over at the beginning.  Most of these were made last year, before we started the Constructive Confrontation Initiative.  Rather than re-doing each of them to show how they relate to this new initiative, we created a new page entitled "Constructive Confrontation Initiative Resources" which explores how this concept relates to our past posts and which posts, in particular, demonstrate explicitly how one can confront conflict in more constructive ways. 

We will be creating new posts soon as well.  All of the upcoming Unit 5 of the Frontiers Seminar, for example, focuses on constructive approaches to conflict which, together, we are terming "massively parallel peacebuilding." The Fundamentals posts will be continuing on with our exploration of conflict overlay factors, all of which need to be identified and remedied in order to be able to constructively address the core of the conflict. So, while sometimes a bit hidden, the notion of "Constructive Confrontation" really infuses all of what we have done already and will be doing as we move forward.  Posts to date for the Constructive Confrontation Initiative are listed below.

Things YOU Can Do To Help Blog

Conflict Frontiers Seminar

Unit 1: Understanding the Intractable Conflict Problem

Conflict Fundamentals Seminar

Unit 1: Understanding the Intractable Conflict Problem

Beyond Intractability in Context Blog

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #9: Introducing the Constructive Confrontation Initiatve

March 21, 2018

Please NOTE! Starting with Newsletter #10, we will be using the mailing service "Mail Chimp" to send out our newsletters. Consequently, it may be more likely that our newsletters will not come to your "inbox," but rather to other locations, such as "promotions," "social," "forums," or even "spam." If you signed up for the newsletter and are not getting it, check your other email folders or tabs or search "all your mail" for news@beyondintractability.org If you still can't find it, please contact us.

Beyond Intractability took a break from posting new Frontiers and Fundamentals posts for awhile, as we readied the Spring 2018 Constructive Confrontation Initiative which we are now starting in late February, 2018. This initiative will run for about three months, taking us into May.

Simultaneously we are also starting a major publicity campaign (please share this newsletter widely!) in an effort to get more participants and more discussants on the Frontiers and Things You Can Do Discussions. We have recently added an overarching "introductory" discussion topic which we hope will get a number of you interested in participating in the discussions--and then the Constructive Confrontation Initiative. That iinitial question is:

How Do We Build Peace and Resolve Conflict in the Age of Hyper-Partisanship and Donald Trump?

Please sign up for the discussions and share your thoughts with us!

Constructive Confrontation Initiative (CCI)Background

The highly escalated, increasingly dehumanizing, and deeply intractable nature of today's big (and little) conflicts are beginning to threaten things that many people care deeply about. In the United States and many other places, these conflicts have now reached the point where it seems that most everyone has concluded that compromise is no longer a realistic option and that, like it or not, they are involved in a win-lose confrontation that they simply cannot afford to lose.

Given this, we have decided to frame this Spring's MBI Initiative around the phrase "constructive confrontation," rather than more traditional terms (such as conflict resolution, compromise, and peacebuilding) that you would expect to hear from a conflict and peace-related organization like Beyond Intractability.

This "reframing" reflects a lesson that we learned early in the history of our Conflict Information Consortium program. Most people see themselves as advocates on one side or the other of a conflict, not as neutral intermediaries who, by implication, see the validity of arguments on all sides of an issue. Such advocates tend to be distrustful of "conflict resolution." They worry, for example, about being pressured to make unwanted compromises or, in the event they do decide to compromise, about being double-crossed. However, we also learned that these same people tend to be deeply aware of the dangers of all-out confrontation and are very interested in limiting the destructiveness that they know commonly accompanies their advocacy efforts.

We need to quit thinking of our conflicts in "us vs. them" terms and realize that we have a common enemy, destructive conflict dynamics, which we need to learn how to work together to limit.

In framing this Spring's Initiative in terms of constructive confrontation, our goal is to show how applying a more sophisticated understanding of conflict dynamics can help advocates better defend and advance their interests. For example, conflict resolution skills are critical to building and maintaining strong alliances. The ability to empathize with one's adversary also allows you to more accurately identify the things that you may be doing that provoke unnecessary opposition. (Successful advocates don't make their adversaries any madder at them than they have to.) We, of course, also want to show those interested in taking on "third side" roles how they can make critically important contributions to de-escalating our countries' and the world's "big problems" and we want to explore with professional colleagues how we can improve what our field offers in the realm of highly-complex, societal-scale conflicts.

Given the intensity of many ongoing conflicts, it's clear that the continuation of "business-as-usual" approaches will yield a continuation of "destruction-as-usual" outcomes, with many trend lines pointing toward real catastrophe. The alternative is not an unrealistic grand compromise, but the promotion of much more constructive confrontation skills – the kind that harness conflict as an engine of social learning – ones that help produce a wiser and more equitable society.

An Online Learning Initiative

If we, as communities and societies, are going to be able to bend the trend lines in more positive directions, then we have to commit to the search for more constructive approaches to current intractable conflicts. We (meaning both the general public and conflict professionals) are going to have to learn a lot more about the many destructive conflict dynamics that underlie our problems, and the steps that we can realistically take to limit those dynamics. While conflict professionals already understand a great deal of this, clearly we don't understand enough! Beyond improving our general understanding of the problem, every one of us needs to take responsibility for limiting the destructiveness of those interactions that we are in a position to influence.

Destructive conflict dynamics and strategies for limiting those dynamics play out at all levels of society – from the interpersonal to the societal.

Regardless of the type of conflict you face, BI is likely to provide illuminating and useful insights.

To do this effectively, many of us are going to have to learn new skills -- something that we have always had to do any time we wanted to do something new. Learning new things takes time, but Beyond Intractability's learning materials are structured in a way that they can be used effectively by even the busiest people. You don't need to sign up for an entire seminar and you don't have any required readings. Rather, you can read or watch whatever you want, whenever you want. Each post, we hope, will teach you something useful. Put together, these materials can teach you (and through your discussions, teach us!) a great deal about better ways to address both simple and the most challenging of intractable conflicts.

Over roughly the next three months, Moving Beyond Intractability's Constructive Confrontation Initiative will provide a series of succinct, easy-to-understand short video and text-based posts outlining both the multifaceted nature of our conflict problems and available opportunities for limiting those problems.

Built on the foundation of the long-standing Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base project, the posts will highlight the important (and generally underutilized) ideas that have emerged from conflict and peacebuilding-related fields, as well as a series of new, more tentative ideas that we (Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess, and colleagues) are developing for addressing the big, as yet unmet, challenges that lie at the frontier of the conflict field. Here, for example, our focus is on tough problems like the complex, and often non-rational, nature of human thought; the willingness of Machiavellian political actors to promote divisions for selfish gain; and the need to "scale up" more constructive, small group conflict-management techniques so they can reach millions of people in a mass-media environment.

The CCI will be built with elements drawn from MBI's Conflict Frontiers and Conflict Fundamentals Seminars (each of which are starting again at the beginning for the CCI) and the Things You Can Do to Help Blog. Supplemental materials will be added from the BI in Context blog, the BI Knowledge Base, and the MBI Colleague Activities Blog.

Although we welcome people to follow the CCI all the way through from the beginning to the end, we know most people don't have enough time to do that. For those with extremely busy schedules, the best option is to add Initiative posts to your "newsfeed" on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.(with the goal of balancing the destructive-conflict-as-usual information that we all normally see with materials highlighting more constructive approaches). Or, if you prefer, you can subscribe to a more extensive series of posts which includes all the BI in Context links to quality news and opinion articles along with the other "core CCI" posts. This larger collection of posts is accessible from the Beyond Intractability pages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Most of the posts are "stand-alone" (or sometimes groups of two), but each one will present at least one new idea--the Fundamentals Seminar and the Things YOU Can Do to Help Blog presents Conflict Resolution "basics" for people new to the Conflict and Peace field; The Frontiers Seminar discusses more controversial and new ideas which we propose as ways for our field to better grapple with the world's many increasingly polarized and intractable conflicts. You can pick and choose which posts and seminars interest you more, but I hope many of you will choose one of those seminars to follow and participate in as your time permits.


MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #8

December 8, 2017

Beyond Intractability Redesigns and Expands Its Website

Rather than continuing to add new posts, we have spent the last several months massively revising the look, feel, and navigation of the BI and MBI site.  The new site has a much more "modern" look, simpler navigation, and many new materials for both conflict experts and general citizens.  The combined site now has six sections.  Four are educational, with a focus on explaining the causes of intractable conflict and how these conflicts can be addressed more constructively.  Two are for experts, hoping to seed a conversation about how we can "ramp up" our field to better meet the challenges of today's complex, intractable conflicts.

As part of this effort, we have a number of discussion posts that we hope our colleagues will engage in.  The first, overarching question we are considering is: 

How Do We Build Peace and Resolve Conflict in the Age of Hyper-Partisanship and Donald Trump?

If you haven't visited for awhile, I hope you'll check out the new site soon. We are also planning to start the two big seminars (the Conflict Frontiers Massive Open Online Seminar (MOOS) and the Conflict Fundamentals Seminar over at the beginning of after the first of the year.  So if you want to come in at the beginning and follow either of those through with us, then check back again. (We'll send one or two announcements once the date is firm.)

Our new sections include the following:

Things You Can Do to Help Blog

This explains in very brief posts, things that everyone (not just experts or leaders) can do to help make conflict interactions – both tractable and intractable – more constructive.  The posts are quick, easy to understand, and outline steps that are relatively easy to take. (For general audiences)  
Things You Can Do To Help Home | About | Follow | Join Discussions | Posts

The Conflict Frontiers "Massive Open Online Seminar" (MOOS)

This seminar examines strategies for advancing the frontier of the field by better addressing the scale and complexity of today’s society-wide conflicts. The seminar has short video posts and associated discussions, exploring ways to "scale-up" our field’s theory and practice so we can better limit the destructiveness usually associated with intractable conflicts.  Participants can visit off and on, or participate in the entire seminar.  The blog is being posted on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as the MBI/BI site.  (For conflict experts and advanced students)
About | Syllabus | Read Discussions | FollowJoin Discussions | Posts

BI/CRInfo Knowledge Base

The original BI and CRInfo systems are now combined into the BI/CRInfo Knowledge Base, which has all the original material from both sites. The Knowledge Base presents generally-accepted theory and practice relating to both "tractable" and intractable conflicts.  While vast, there is no prescribed reading order or syllabus, as there is in the Conflict Fundamentals Seminar.  Search and browsing tools do, however, provide access to a vast collection of theoretical essays, case studies, expert scholar and practitioner interviews, practitioner reflections, book and article summaries, and more. (For conflict students and general audiences.)  Knowledge Base Home | About | Search

Conflict Fundamentals Seminar and Blog

This section contains lengthier (but still fairly short) readings and videos arranged in a suggested order (a syllabus) which highlight the conflict and peacebuilding field's fundamental building blocks. This is being built from original Knowledge-Base essays, which are updated to highlight "Current Implications." The blog is being posted on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as the MBI/BI site. (For conflict students and general audiences.) Fundamentals Home | About | Syllabus | Follow | Posts

Beyond Intractability in Context Blog

This blog highlights one or two news and opinion articles on intractable conflict-related topics per day. The purpose is to show how intractable conflicts and conflict responses play out in the "real world." This is also being posted to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as MBI/BI.  (For General Audiences)  BI in Context Home | Follow | Suggest Resource | Posts

Colleague Activities Blog

Many of our colleagues are making important contributions to effort to address the intractable conflict problem. We invite you to use this blog to share what you are doing so we can all learn from each other. (For conflict scholars and practitioners.)  Colleague Activities Homepage | About | Contribute Info | Posts

How to Help and Get Involved

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #7

September 20, 2017

Frontiers Seminar Unit 4: Moving Toward a Complexity-Oriented Paradigm, Completed.

Note: There has only been one new post since the last newsletter, but we thought it might be helpful to include the entirety of Unit 4 here:

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 5: Examining Causes of Intractable Conflicts: Overlay (or Complicating) Factors, Continued

  • Siege Mentality - North Korea's siege mentality is particularly dangerous as the US is exhibiting a siege mentality too! (August 12, 2017)
  • Delegitimization - Delegitimization drives escalation and violence—but how is it reversed?  (August 17, 2017)
  • Victimhood - Victimhood has a dual nature—people can be both ashamed and proud of their victim status at the same time. (August 23, 2017)
  • Cognitive Dissonance - : Cognitive dissonance, too, can escalate or de-escalate conflict depending on how it is used. (August 24, 2017)
  • Interpersonal Communication - We take it for granted, but so much can go wrong with our communication. In conflict, care is essential! (August 29, 2017)
  • Misunderstandings - Even if the misunderstandings do not cause conflict, they can escalate it rapidly once it starts. (Sept. 1, 2017)

Recent Posts from the Additional Resources Blog

  • Losing The Information War -- Review and link to an important new paper that looks into the reality of the information war (which is going badly) -- 09/10/2017
  • Trump & Evangelicals -- More trying to understand the other side: "Why most evangelicals don't condemn trump." -- 09/10/2017
  • Outlawing War? It Actually Worked -- A surprising look back at the long shadow of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 and the delegitimization of conquest. -- 09/10/2017
  • Prospects Of Janitors In The 80s Vs. Now -- A Labor Day "then and now" comparison of the lives of janitors in high-tech companies, and the rise of inequality. -- 09/10/2017
  • Moral Trauma -- A provocative account of how the events in Charlottesville influenced the thinking of one person who was there. -- 09/09/2017
  • Humor In The Face of Nazis -- An alternative, clown-based strategy for preventing white supremacists from achieving the goals of their rallies. -- 09/09/2017
  • Zapatista Rebels Venture Into Politics -- In hopeful news, "In a Mexico 'Tired of Violence,' Zapatista Rebels Venture into Politics" and forsake violence. -- 09/07/2017
  • The Potential Damage of Five-Hundred-Year Flooding -- Adapting to climate change, graphics showing how hard it will be to live in a world of frequent, 500 year floods. -- 09/07/2017
  • Fascism, American Style -- A succinct and persuasive summary of the issues that make the Arpaio pardon so disturbing. -- 09/06/2017
  • Mattis, Trump and North Korea -- Foreign Policy's assessment of the increasing risk of war with North Korea: "Mattis Just Out-Trumped Trump." -- 09/06/2017
  • America's Deadly Divide -- An increasingly relevant summary of events leading to the American Civil War (with important lessons for today). -- 09/05/2017
  • Forest Service Fire Watch -- For those focused on hurricanes, horrifying graphics showing how much of the West is literally burning down. -- 09/05/2017
  • We Need To Start Befriending Neo-Nazis -- An argument for challenging neo-Nazism by befriending and then persuading it's adherents to change their minds. -- 09/04/2017
  • 'Intersectionality': A Code Word For Anti-Semitism -- The disturbing implications of the new concept of "intersectionality." We need a better way to fight for justice. -- 09/04/2017
  • What Kills Inequality -- The Great Leveler - a long-term look at the violent history of efforts to reduce inequality. We need to do better. -- 08/31/2017
  • The Science of Snobbery -- Another big driver of inequality: "The Science of Snobbery: How We're Duped Into Thinking Fancy Things Are Better". -- 08/31/2017
  • On Saving the Far-Right Protestor -- An inspiring story of the kind of courage that blocking the violent escalation of political conflict requires. -- 08/30/2017
  • Cyberwar: A Guide -- Cyberwar: A guide to the frightening future of online conflict as seen from the techie perspective of ZDNet. -- 08/30/2017
  • Many Shades of the U.S. at War -- A provocative essay on the diversity of the US military, the fragmentation of Iraq & Syria, & Trump's divisiveness. -- 08/29/2017
  • Most Shortsighted Attack on Free Speech -- A timely reminder of the importance of protecting free speech, even at the expense of allowing hate speech. -- 08/29/2017
  • Trump Vote Regret -- From a prominent (& now regretful) Trump supporter, an explanation of his initial support & why he changed his mind -- 08/28/2017
  • Combating Online Radicalization -- An update on efforts to combat the online radicalization of violent extremists (including domestic US hate groups). -- 08/28/2017
  • How to Make Fun of Nazis -- How to Make Fun of Nazis -- a confrontation strategy that is less likely to lead to violent escalation. -- 08/27/2017
  • Hamilton 68 -- From the German Marshall Fund, a real-time dashboard for tracking Russian influence operations on Twitter. -- 08/27/2017
  • The Chilling Effects of Openly Displayed Firearms -- Welcome to the dangerous new world of political protest in the era of open carry laws, long guns, and flak jackets! -- 08/26/2017
  • What Trump Gets Wrong About Antifa -- Realistic comparison of the influence and threats presented by fascist movements on the right & the left's "Antifa" -- 08/26/2017
  • Our House Divided -- A somewhat reassuring essay on the likelihood of current political tensions leading to large-scale violence. -- 08/25/2017
  • Charlottesville Through A Different Lens -- Provocative food for thought: "What if Western media covered Charlottesville the same way it covers other nations?" -- 08/25/2017
  • Godfather of a Democratic Renaissance -- A Thomas Edsall update on successes of the "Democratic Renaissance" and the considerable challenges it still faces. -- 08/24/2017
  • What Moderates Believe -- For our polarized society, a welcome effort to outline and defend the core beliefs of political moderates. -- 08/24/2017
  • How to Hate Each Other Peacefully in a Democracy -- A thoughtful exploration of one of today's big questions: how can we hate each other peacefully in a democracy? -- 08/23/2017
  • Trump’s Threat of War With North Korea -- A somewhat persuasive & reassuring argument: "Trump's Threat of War With North Korea May Sound Scarier Than It Is". -- 08/23/2017
  • Effective Arms Against North Korea -- Sometimes there are no military solutions: North Korea's missiles are secure from everything but a nuclear attack. -- 08/22/2017
  • A New Democratic Platform -- A hopeful story about "New Democracy" and its efforts to chart a middle ground between our two political extremes. -- 08/21/2017
  • The Massacre That Ended the Arab Spring -- The story of the Rabaa Massacre, for folks (like me) who did not understand how the Arab Spring ended. -- 08/20/2017
  • The Alt-Right and Russia -- Don't read too much into this. Still, the connection between the Russians and the alt-right is part of the story. -- 08/19/2017
  • Division in the Democratic Party -- Sometimes going for the big win can lead to catastrophe. Is the Democratic shift to the left such a case? -- 08/18/2017
  • A New Kind of Fight in Charlottesville -- A reminder that we are struggling to do something that's never been done: build a diverse society that really works -- 08/17/2017
  • Trump, Obama and the Politics of Evasion -- A provocative comparison of the way in which the left and the right respond to violent extremism. -- 08/16/2017
  • Checking Privilege Checking -- An argument that calls to "check one's privilege" undermine (don't support) efforts to address to social inequities -- 08/15/2017
  • Trump Knows How To Push Our Buttons -- An assessment of Donald Trump's tactic of pushing the left's buttons, & the Democratic Party's "Better Deal." -- 08/15/2017
  • A Party In Denial -- Republican reform will have to come from the right, not the left. A welcome call for change from Sen. Flake. -- 08/14/2017
  • The Three Paradoxes Disrupting American Politics -- Three paradoxes that opened the door to fake-news-based politics (paradoxes that will also probably outlast Trump). -- 08/14/2017
  • A Nuclear North Korea -- Sensible thinking on the tough choices posed by North Korea's rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal. -- 08/13/2017
  • The Risk of a Nuclear Catastrophe Under Trump -- Alas, it's again time to think about the unthinkable: "The Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe under Trump." -- 08/13/2017
  • Trump’s Russian Laundromat -- Explanation of how international money laundering makes corruption possible (and the alleged role of Trump, Inc). -- 08/12/2017
  • Killing Obamacare Softly -- Killing Obamacare "Softly"--heartbreaking explanation of the rationale for preventing the government from working. -- 08/12/2017
  • Empathy Gadgets -- Empathy gadgets for helping caregivers better understand patients. We need something like this for conflict. -- 08/11/2017
  • The Kremlin & The Magnitsky Act -- Eye-opening explanation of the relationship between the Magnitsky Act, corruption, and US/Russia relations. -- 08/11/2017
  • A.I. Dystopia -- Maybe one of the the A.I. dystopias is already here: conflicts driven by battling, trolling, bots. -- 08/10/2017
  • Battle of the Botnets -- Case study: Battle of the Botnets – Trump's fans and foes go head-to-head with Twitter bots. -- 08/10/2017
  • Faster than a Speeding Congressman -- An exploration of the implications of the rise of inexperienced political leaders, on both the left and the right. -- 08/09/2017
  • Trump Boomerang Effect -- Trump and Kenneth Boulding's Law of Political Irony: things you do to help people often hurt them (& vice versa). -- 08/09/2017
  • How to Make Congress Bipartisan -- A genuinely promising and realistic strategy for fixing Congress. Something worth fighting for? -- 08/08/2017
  • Tunisia, a Success Story? -- A reasonably upbeat update on the most successful of the Arab spring revolutions – Tunisia. -- 08/08/2017
  • Why Don't the 1 Percent Feel Rich? -- Useful new acronym: HENRY (high earning, not rich yet)--part of why the 1% is driven to accumulate even more. -- 08/07/2017
  • Who Hasn't Trump Offended -- Understanding the United States' changing relationship with the world: those who Trump has and hasn't offended. -- 08/07/2017
  • New Technology and Fake Videos -- The astonishing capabilities of the new world of fake video technology. How will we be able to tell what is real? -- 08/06/2017
  • Trump's Trolls and America's Civil Servants -- Internet trolls are waging war on America's civil servants--yet another front in the battle to save democracy. -- 08/06/2017
  • The Closing of the Republican Mind -- An exploration of the implications of the terms: cognitive elite, creative class, cosmopolitan class, & plutonomy. -- 08/05/2017
  • Trump’s Flirtation with Violence -- A reflection on the dangers of Trump's flirtation with political violence. What happens if Trump is impeached? -- 08/05/2017
  • The Left’s Inversion of Anti-Semitism -- From Israel, a controversial but provocative exploration of the implications of two recent cases of anti-Semitism. -- 08/04/2017
  • Shariah's Winding Path Into Modernity -- For those wanting to go beyond superficial demonization, a description of "Sharia's winding path into modernity." -- 08/04/2017
  • Israel & The Iran Nuclear Deal -- From a former head of Shin Bet, a hopeful argument that the "Iranian nuclear deal has been a blessing for Israel." -- 08/03/2017
  • Why Russia Would Help Trump -- For those trying to understand motivations, an explanation of why Russia wanted to help Trump. -- 08/03/2017
  • Saudi Arabia's Botched Campaign -- Saudi Arabia's campaign against Qatar, another example of how ill-considered threats can backfire. -- 08/02/2017
  • The 'Witch Hunt' Russia Narrative -- From the conservative National Review, an explanation of why the Russia story is not business-as-usual politics. -- 08/02/2017
  • War Ravaged Mosul -- Photographic evidence of the destruction of Mosul--another reminder of the enormous tragedy of war. -- 08/01/2017
  • Trump's Enablers -- Six profiles trying to understand the motivations of those who could, but don't, challenge Trump's excesses. -- 08/01/2017
  • Nourish Your Political Soul -- A summer project to nourish your political soul: pick a problem, look at it from all sides, think it through. -- 07/31/2017
  • Gathering Storm vs.Crisis of Confidence -- The promise & perils of trying to understand today by looking at historical parallels from the 1930s & 1970s. -- 07/31/2017
  • Words As Violence -- An argument worth considering: Why it's a bad idea to tell students words are violence. -- 07/30/2017
  • The Right Versus Academia -- We must constructively address the right's distrust/hatred of academia (or risk losing the benefits of expertise). -- 07/30/2017

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #6

July 31, 2017

Frontiers Seminar Unit 4: Moving Toward a Complexity-Oriented Paradigm, Continued.

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 5: Examining Causes of Intractable Conflicts: Overlay (or Complicating) Factors, Continued

  • Stereotypes -- Genocides start with negative stereotyping--is this where the US wants to go? (June 29, 2017)
  • Enemy Images -- Enemy images deepen our socio-economics & political problems, while they make effective problem solving impossible. (June 30, 2017)
  • Cultural and Worldview Frames - Worldview frames go a long way in explaining why the US is becoming increasingly polarized.(July 7, 2017)
  • Rational and nonrational decision-making - Emotions cannot be ignored in intractable conflicts--they are the elephant that a rider only tenuously controls. (July 14, 2017)
  • Psychological Dynamics of Intractable Conflict -In intractable conflicts, entire societies can get tangled up in destructive psychological dynamics. (July 18, 2017)
  • Ethos of Conflict - Since the conflict ethos feeds continuation of the conflict, that needs to change for conflicts to be resolved. (July 28, 2017)

Recent Posts from the Additional Resources Blog

  • Trump Transforming Rural America -- More listening: a case study of how Trump is transforming the way one rural Colorado town thinks about politics. -- 07/29/2017
  • Fear of Falling / Love of Trump -- From Thomas Edsall, an explanation of why so many relatively successful people support Trump. -- 07/29/2017
  • Stiglitz: Here's How to Fix Inequality -- An important new Stiglitz book on fixing the inequality problem. How can we build a consensus for implementation? -- 07/28/2017
  • Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance! -- An argument for getting more people excited about maintaining what we have (rather than creating something new). -- 07/28/2017
  • John McCain's Speech -- McCain's speech says much that needs to be said. How can we get more politicians to fight for these principles? -- 07/27/2017
  • Curiosity Underemphasized -- A genuinely sound idea for improving education: cultivate curiosity. -- 07/27/2017
  • Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting -- From the perspective of someone experienced in "spy craft," an analysis of the Trump Jr. Russia meeting. -- 07/26/2017
  • Turkey's Erdogan on the Defensive -- A profile of Turkey's giant nonviolent protest March. What can be done to help more such efforts succeed? -- 07/26/2017
  • Bill Browder's Testimony -- Must-read testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee explaining Russian money laundering and the Magnitsky Act -- 07/25/2017
  • Male Unemployment & Video Games -- Yet another factor in the complex causes of inequality, video games have gotten too good! -- 07/17/2017
  • Are you a Dream Hoarder? -- Tough questions and a game for those fortunate enough to be in the top 20%, are you a "dream hoarder?" -- 07/17/2017
  • More Professionalism, Less Populism -- A question worth considering: Have we taken direct democracy too far with too much superficial public involvement? -- 07/17/2017
  • Declaration of Disruption -- At a time when everyone seems to want to be a "disrupter," pray for those who promote stability. -- 07/17/2017
  • Millennials and the 'Success Sequence' -- Conservative ideas for dealing with poverty and inequality that are worth considering as part of the solution. -- 07/16/2017
  • Facebook: The Problem & Solution -- More on things that Facebook might be able to do to promote more constructive civic engagement. -- 07/16/2017
  • Partisan Views on Wealth -- Pew report on Republican and Democratic differences on the causes of inequality. No wonder we can't agree! -- 07/15/2017
  • Two Questions About Trump and Republicans -- From George Lakoff, "Two Questions About Trump and Republicans that Stump Progressives". -- 07/15/2017
  • How People Like You Fuel Extremism -- We all should be asking this question, how are people like me fueling extremism? -- 07/14/2017
  • Compassion in the Face of Stereotypes -- A too rare example of how a single act of compassion can help break down destructive stereotypes. -- 07/13/2017
  • Re-Committing to Civility -- An impassioned and persuasive appeal from Orrin Hatch for civility in politics. Why won't more leaders say this? -- 07/13/2017
  • FARC Completes Disarmament Process -- Good news: after 53 years FARC completes disarmament process in Colombia! -- 07/13/2017
  • Putin's Russia -- A disturbing window into what it's like to live in Putin's Russia. -- 07/12/2017
  • Present at the Destruction -- From Politico, a persuasive, sad, and alarming argument of "How Rex Tillerson is destroying the State Department. -- 07/12/2017
  • The Problem With Participatory Democracy -- An argument that we need to quit treating politics as a hobby and start treating it as a civic responsibility. -- 07/11/2017
  • The Far Left on College Campuses -- A provocative exploration of the role of the "far left" on college campuses and its relationship with "liberals." -- 07/11/2017
  • Everyone is Mad at Everyone -- New data from Pew reveals that the 40% of the US population that favors compromise is the least politically active! -- 07/10/2017
  • Good News, Despite What You’ve Heard -- Evidence that, despite our focus on the world's many problems, there is lots of good news. Can we cultivate more? -- 07/10/2017
  • Nature Has Lost Its Meaning -- A lengthy and informative look at the conflict between the many different ways of thinking about "nature." -- 07/09/2017
  • The G.O.P. Rejects Conservatism -- An exploration of the disconnect between real conservative thinking and the ideas being promoted by the GOP. -- 07/08/2017
  • The Perils of Meritocracy -- More food for thought about the meritocracy's legitimacy and its responsibilities to the larger society. -- 07/07/2017
  • How the Left Lost Its Mind -- For those who complain about extremist, fake-news, right wing media; a story of extremist, fake news on the left. -- 07/07/2017
  • Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty -- A psychological complexity-based explanation of "benefits of getting comfortable with uncertainty." -- 07/06/2017
  • Facebook, Free Expression and the Power of a Leak -- In the public sphere, the government enforces free-speech rules, in social media it's companies like Facebook! -- 07/06/2017
  • Just Wait -- For those fuzzy about the increasingly relevant history of Watergate, an in-depth comparison of Nixon and Trump. -- 07/05/2017
  • Judging al-Qaida’s record, Part I -- Is this how the war against Al Qaeda sort of ends? An especially good two-part assessment. -- 07/05/2017
  • The World Is Even Less Stable Than It Looks -- The good and the bad and the ugly, a comprehensive overview of the state of the world and what to worry about. -- 07/04/2017

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #5

June 28, 2017

Frontiers Seminar Unit 4: Moving Toward a Complexity-Oriented Paradigm

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 5: Examining Causes of Intractable Conflicts: Overlay (or Complicating) Factors

  • Conflict Overlay Factors -- A very short introduction to Unit 5, covering conflict overlay factors that make conflicts even more intractable.  (June 12, 2017)
  • Frames, Framing and Reframing -- Frames determine what we believe is true. When we framing things differently, conflict resolution is a challenge! (June 12, 2017)
  • Process Frames -- Your process frame is a blinder that lets you see a solution...or forces it away. (June 13, 2017)
  • Win/lose and competitive/cooperative framing -- Self-fulfilling prophecies keep us stuck in destructive conflict styles. (June 14, 2017)
  • Into-the-Sea Framing -- Total refusal to live with the "other side" results in into-the-sea framing and deep intractability. (June 15, 2017)
  • Identity Frames -- Identity frames shape who we are...and what we believe and do as well. (June 27, 2017)

Recent Posts from the Additional Resources Blog

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #4

June 8, 2017

This newsletter includes the Frontiers Seminar Unit 3, an Introduction to Complexity and Systems Thinking, which reviews the work of a number of our colleagues who are or were thinking and working in related ways.  This newsletter also includes The Fundamentals Unit 3 on Conflict Parties and the last week's posts from the Additional Resources Blog. 

Frontiers Seminar Unit 3: Introduction to Complexity and "Systems Thinking" - Theoretical Antecedents

  1. Developing a Systems/Complexity Paradigm -- This video provides an introductory look at a developing new paradigm for peacebuilding: using systems thinking and complexity analysis to better understand wicked problems and difficult and intractable conflicts. (May 1, 2017) 
  2. Dugan's "Nested Theory of Conflict" --  Conflicts exist on many levels at once - seeing these helps you see the conflict system.  (May 2, 2017)
  3. Lederach's Pyramid -- Leaders at three levels of society all contribute to peace, but those at the middle-level are often the most effective, explains John Paul Lederach in Building Peace, an early exploration of systems, complexity, and peace. (May 3, 2017)
  4. Lederach's Big Picture of Conflict Transformation -- Lederach’s circle of conflict transformation shows how to design change processes that work. (May 4, 2017)
  5. Diamond and McDonald's Multi-track Diplomacy -- Diplomats are not just officials, but include 9 different types of people--all contributing towards peacebuilding. These nine tracks together create a synergy that consistutes a "systems approach to peace." (May 5, 2017)
  6. Ury's "Third Side" -- How YOU can help transform difficult conflicts! Everyone has a role to play! (May 8, 2017)
  7. Coleman's "Five Percent Part 1 -- Peter Coleman says intractable conflicts are by formed powerful “attractors” or seemingly inescapable traps. (May 9, 2017)
  8. Coleman's "Five Percent" Part 2 -- Coleman says intractable conflicts can be tamed by 3 steps --learn what they are! (May 10, 2017)
  9. Ricigliano's SAT model -- Complex conflicts require complex responses: the SAT and PAL models are linked approaches for doing just that. (May 11, 2017)
  10. Hauss's "New Paradigm" -- Intractable conflicts are "wicked problems" that need an entirely new paradigm to deal with says Chip Hauss. (May 15, 2017)

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 3: Conflict Parties

  1. First Parties, Third Parties, and Thirdsiders - Everyone can play a role in making conflicts better--or worse! (May 1, 2017)
  2. Ury's "Third Side"' - "Third siders" are disputants and outsiders - united in a desire to transform conflicts for the better. (May 2, 2017)
  3. Leaders and Leadership - James MacGregor Burns, observed, "Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth." These resources examine the dynamics between a group and their leader. (May 3, 2017)
  4. Lederach's Pyramid - Leaders at 3 levels of society can contribute to peace, but the middle level is often the most effective. (May 4, 2017)
  5. Within-Party Differences Not everyone on the “other side” is the same: some are open to compromise and others not. Don't lump them together. (May 5, 2017)
  6. "Extremists" and Spoilers - Violent extremism is one of the most difficult challenges our time. We MUST design better ways of preventing it. (May 6, 2017)

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 4: Examining Causes of Intractable Conflicts: Core Factors

  1. Core and overlay distinction - The more eight "core factors" are present, the more likely a conflict will become intractable.  Part 1 (May 8, 2017) 
  2. Core and Overlays Part 2 - Eleven "complicating factors" obscure the core conflict and make it even more difficult to deal with effectively.  (May 9. 2017)
  3. High-Stakes Distributional Issues - When conflicts over who gets what really matter--they are high stakes--they drive intractability. (May 10, 2017)
  4. Inequality (Rich/Poor Conflicts) Conflicts between the rich and the poor are intractable in many contexts.  -(May 11, 2017)
  5. Moral Conflicts - Moral conflicts often become intractable, as neither side is willing to compromise their deeply-held beliefs. (May 22, 2017)
  6. Identity Issues - Identity conflicts often become intractable, but such outcomes are avoidable. (May 31, 2017)
  7. Status and power struggles - Social status lies at the core of most of the political conflicts raging today. Read why.  (June 7, 2017)
  8. Power -  Why don't more powerful parties always win?  Power is deceptive...the "weak" sometimes have more! (June 8. 2017)
  9. Oppression - This intro to a 6-essay series focuses on the causes and impacts of oppression and how it can be overcome. (June 9, 2017)
  10. Humiliation - Evelin Lindner calls humiliation the "atom bomb of emotions" because it does such profound damage to relationships. (June 9. 2017)

Recent Posts from the Additional Resources Blog

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #3

May 26, 2017

This newsletter includes the Frontiers Seminar Unit 2 on Business as Usual and why it doesn't work on intractable conflicts, The Fundamentals Seminar Unit 2 on Core Concepts and Selected Additional Resources posts from the period between now and the last newsletter.  

Frontiers Seminar:

Unit 2 Pushing the frontier: the Limits of Business-as-Usual 

This series of 10 posts explains why so many of the attitudes, assumptions, and processes about conflict and conflict resolution don't work for complex, intractable conflict. Several of the posts suggest ways in which changing ones' attitudes, assumptions and/or approaches can yield positive results.  

  1. Business-as-Usual Introduction  Business-as-usual strategies don't work for intractable conflicts--they often make them worse!  --April 17, 2017​ 
  2. Part 1: Same Old Approach, Just More or Better. [D3] "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."  Why do we do that with conflict? -- April 18, 2017​ 
  3. Part 2: Boys Will Be Boys"  Are conflict & war inevitable? Is “compromise” bad? Such attitudes make us cynical and block learning.  -- April 19, 2017​ 
  4. Business As Usual Pt. 3: "The Blame Game" In conflict, we often blame the other. But focusing on “contribution” instead usually gets much better results! April 20, 2017​ 
  5. Business As Usual-4: Power and the Power Strategy Mix.  Sources of power and power strategies--how to make the most of each. April 21, 2017​ 
  6. Business As Usual 5 - The Interplay of Reason and Emotion Rationality and emotions both contribute to conflict decision-making--be smart about how!  April 24, 2017​ 
  7. Business As Usual-6: More Bad Assumptions  “If they’d just talk, they could work it out!” Exploring this and other bad assumptions. April 25, 2017​ 
  8. The Return of "I'll Fight You for It" Rules  Are efforts to solve problems collaboratively now losing to naked contests of Machiavellian power. April 26, 2017​ 
  9. The Backlash Effect & Coefficient  If your backlash coefficient is more than one, your cause cannot be won! Learn why. April 27, 2017​ 
  10. Recent Peace and Conflict Paradigms  Peace cultivation and massively parallel peacebuilding: two ideas for a new complexity-oriented conflict paradigm. April 28, 2017​ 

Fundamentals Seminar:

Unit 2: Core Concepts.  

The conflict resolution field has many "core concepts," of course, but here are a few that we use very frequently.

  1. Conflicts and Disputes -- Distinguishing between conflicts & disputes is essential for successful engagement in each. (April 17, 2017)
  2. Complex and Complicated Systems - Beyond complex, societal-level conflicts can be considered to be "complex adaptive systems," similar in some sense to weather, ant colonies, or jazz ensembles. The study of these systems requires us to challenge assumptions deeply embedded in the North American/European understandings of conflict intervention. (April 19, 2017)
  3. Interests, Positions, Needs, and Values  -- These are the things people fight about--and each must be handled differently. (April 20, 2017)
  4. Settlement, Resolution, Management, and Transformation -- Often considered synonyms, each of these implies a very different process and outcome. (April 21, 2017)
  5. John Paul Lederach on Transformation -- Conflict transformation sees conflict as an opportunity, not a problem needing a solution. (April 24, 2017)
  6. Reconciliation -- Once a hot topic, now a hotly-needed but controversial topic - this essay tells why. (April 25, 2017)
  7. Lederach's "Meeting Place" - Think you know what peace, truth, justice, mercy, and reconciliation mean? This exercise forces a deeper look. (April 26, 2017)
  8. Stable Peace - Stable peace, says Boulding, exists when the thought of war as a tool to resolve conflicts is not considered. (April 27, 2017)
  9. Principles of Justice and Fairness Like, beauty, "justice" is "in they eye of the beholder. " Or is it not? Can it be objectively measured? (April 28, 2017)

Additional Resources Blog Posts 

We have posted almost 100 additional resources posts since the last newsletter, so I am selecting only a few of them to include here.  If you want to look at the full list, it can be found at Additional Resources Blog.

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #2

April 18, 2017 

The Intractable Conflict Problem

Frontiers and Fundamentals Seminars (Combined): Unit 1

The introductory posts on both the Frontiers and the Fundamental Seminars were "Unit 0," and the first substantive posts went out on social media last week as part of Unit 1.  (Both Units 0 and 1 had been posted on BI for a few weeks now.)  The posts included in Unit 1 are as follows:

  1. Why Can't We Fix Anything Anymore? We can't fix our serious social, economic, political, and environmental problems because our attempts to "fix things" only make the underlying intractable conflict worse! (April 10, 2017)
  2. What Are Intractable Conflicts? Are there such things as intractable conflicts? We say "yes"--but they aren't impossible--just complex, difficult, and in great need of new ideas! (April 11, 2017)
  3. What Makes Conflicts Intractable? Intractable conflicts have many layers. To address them, you need to peel those layers away.(April 12, 2017)
  4. Intractable Conflict: A "Climate Change-Class" Problem A new video explores the parallels between intractable conflicts and climate change--and considers what conflict resolvers can learn from climate activists.(April 13, 2017)
  5. Limits to Growth, Tragedies of the Commons, & the Conflict Problem  Conflict problems associated with wisely and equitably managing the social, political, economic, and environmental "commons" are society's real "Limit to Growth."(April 14, 2017)

Frontiers Seminar: Unit 2

We are now starting Unit 2 on the Frontiers Seminar which focuses on "Business-as-Usual" approaches to conflict and conflict resolution.  The series of 10 posts explains why so many of the attitudes, assumptions, and processes don't work for complex, intractable conflict, and several of the posts suggest ways in which changing ones' attitudes, assumptions and/or approaches can yield positive results.  Only three of these posts have gone out so far:

  1. Business-as-Usual Introduction  Business-as-usual strategies don't work for intractable conflicts--they often make them worse!  --April 17, 2017​ 
  2. Part 1: Same Old Approach, Just More or Better. [D3] "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."  Why do we do that with conflict? -- April 18, 2017​ 
  3. Part 2: Boys Will Be Boys"  Are conflict & war inevitable? Is “compromise” bad? Such attitudes make us cynical and block learning.  -- April 19, 2017​ 

Fundamentals Seminar: Unit 2

Unit 2 of the fundamentals seminar is covering core concepts and will include about ten articles on key terms and ideas.  In addition to exploring common conflict and negotiation terms (such as first and "third" parties, and interests and positions, we will also be exploring terms that differentiate between simple conflicts and complex ones, as is illustrated by the two that have been posted so far:

  1. Conflicts and Disputes Distinguishing between conflicts & disputes is essential for successful engagement in each. -- April 17, 2017
  2. Complex and Complicated Systems  In complex problems, one must think in terms of organic, not mechanical metaphors.- April 19, 2017

Additional Resources Blog

The last weeks' posts from the Additional Resources Blog include the following: 

  • Colleges and ‘Fake News’ -Genuinely hopeful news that colleges are turning the fake news epidemic into a teachable moment -- 04/18/2017
  • Culture Wars in America -- New book argues that the US needs to reclaim its "civil religion" as the "vital center" of politics. -- 04/18/2017
  • Illegal weapons: A global guide -- A useful guide to what everyone ought to know about efforts to ban the global trade in illegal weapons. -- 04/18/2017
  • North Korea is Practicing for Nuclear War -- North Korea is practicing for nuclear war (in part to avoid the fate of Iraq and Libya)! Very dangerous. -- 04/17/2017
  • Why Can't America Take Out Assad? -- Why America can't just take out Assad--an explanation of why Syria is such an intractable problem. -- 04/17/2017
  • Misunderstanding the American Right -- Long essay with lots of citations exploring the left's long and not very successful effort to understand the right. -- 04/15/2017
  • Working Less: A Solution -- Another outside the box idea for making a whole lot of things better: work less! -- 04/15/2017
  • Reducing Tensions Between Russia and NATO -- From the Council on Foreign Relations-–much needed thinking on reducing Russia/NATO tensions. We need more of this. -- 04/14/2017
  • US and Europe Response to Russia -- More about the emerging response to "Russian hybrid warfare" (military threat plus political destabilization). -- 04/14/2017
  • Be Nice to Trump Voters -- From Nicholas Kristof, "My Most Unpopular Idea, Be Nice to Trump Voters." What happened to "love thine enemy?" -- 04/13/2017
  • US Aided Saddam -- Disturbing report in light of the Syria crisis: CIA files prove America helped Saddam's Iraq gas Iranian forces. -- 04/13/2017
  • Tribal Truths -- An explanation of how "tribal epistemology" afflicts both the left and the right and threatens democracy. -- 04/12/2017
  • Terrorism & Security Measures -- An explanation of how disconnected our expensive security measures have come from the real threat of terrorism. -- 04/12/2017

MBI Newsletter

Newsletter #1

April 2, 2017

Unit 1: Introduction to the MOOS

Unit 1 of the Moving Beyond Intractability Massive Open Online Seminar (MBI-MOOS) introduces the MOOS concept, discusses the nature of the problem(s) we will be addressing, and explains the many ways in which the MOOS can be used and accessed.  The posts for the Frontiers Seminar and the Fundamentals Seminar in this unit are the same. 

Core (Fundamentals and Frontier Seminar) Posts:

Supplemental Posts

Additional materials which we think are particularly interesting and important relating to how various intractable conflicts are "playing out" in the "real world." 

  • The Right Way to Resist Trump -- Lessons from Italy and Berlusconi -- "The Right Way to Resist Trump" -- 03/01/2017
  • Three reasons for universal basic income -- One real option for a wealthy economies that can't create jobs for everyone –- "universal basic income." -- 03/01/2017
  • There Is No American 'Deep State' -- Based on the Turkish experience, an argument that "There Is No American 'Deep State.'" -- 02/28/2017
  • Are Liberals Helping Trump? -- It's not enough to fight harder, one has to fight smarter--an explanation of how liberals are making things worse. -- 02/28/2017
  • The Complacent Class -- The Complacent Class, an interesting new book arguing Americans are now working hard to AVOID change. -- 02/27/2017
  • Europe Combats Fake News -- East Stratcom--Europe's welcome new effort to combat fake news (though its 11 person team is laughably small). -- 02/27/2017
  • This Century Is Broken -- Jaw-dropping statistics emphasizing the critical importance of efforts to meet 21st century economic challenges. -- 02/26/2017
  • Our Miserable 21st Century -- For those who want the big challenge and aren't afraid of depressing reading: "Our Miserable 21st-Century." -- 02/26/2017
  • Google fights online trolls with new tool -- Trolling campaigns reveal "Astroturf" not "grassroots" hate. It's good to see Google fighting them. -- 02/25/2017
  • If Trump is Impeached... -- A persuasive argument that impeachment may not be the panacea you were hoping for. Be careful what you wish for. -- 02/25/2017