Theater of Cruelty

Report from the eastern front of the fault steps

When Conflict Resolution Fails
Forfatter: Oliver Ramsbotham
Forlag: Polity Books (UK)
The most important thing is not to prevent the conflicts themselves, but to remove the violence from them, says conflict resolution expert Oliver Ramsbotham. 


Why do conflict resolution attempts go wrong in many cases? What is the reason why no independent third party succeeds in creating peace between Israelis and Palestinians? What happens when attempted solutions break down?

Oliver Ramsbotham is a professor of conflict resolution professor at the University of Bradford and president of the Conflict Research Society. The book When Conflict Resolution Fails is the result of his many years of studies in international conflict management, with the Israel-Palestine conflict as the main focus.

Grow the distance. The reason why conflicts in the world do not find their end, but only goes on and on, is according to Ramsbotham that "solutions" are being pressed on the parties. In repeated instances of what Belgian political philosopher Chantal Mouffe has called "agonistic dialogue" – that the parties are in a constant fighting position – it often does not help to encourage the parties to understand each other. To that end, the disagreement goes too deep; it is a matter of one radical disagreement. In such cases, Ramsbotham recommends moving in the opposite direction to what is usually recommended: Instead of asking the opponents to approach each other, he encourages them to explore the distance between them with questions such as, "Where are we now?", " What do we actually disagree with? ”,“ Where are we moving? ”And“ Where are we going? ”

Gestalt therapy. Ramsbotham encourages leaving dialogue solution to dialogue engagement. Unlike premature and "pressed" solutions, the professor works with what he calls "heuristic engagement," which not is about creating dialogue between the the parties, however innenfor them; not about pushing the parties to where the third party wants to be, but about finding out where the parties actually are. Using a method strongly reminiscent of gestalt therapy, Ramsbotham initiates conscious processes about the situation here and now, without forcing the parties to agree before they have even realized what they actually disagree with. The main problem, as the author sees it, is that radical disagreement as a working method is not taken seriously in conflict resolution.

Israeli authorities must realize the degree of violence and injustice inherent in the Zionist project.

Truths. The first commandment for conflict resolvers is to find out what the disputes are actually about. This requires political, religious and linguistic insight. Both parties in a dispute have their own narrative that allows them to defend themselves and attack the other. Both rationalize their views and have easy to label the opposing party as evil and irrational. What is true is less important – it is about developing a collective memory and symbols that contribute to a common identity within one's own group and across the other, the author believes. Greater recognition of the parties' right to have their respective "collective memories" is needed – but both groups must also recognize the counterparty's right to own its history. If a solution is to be possible at all, one must go to the bottom of these narrative constructions – and both sides must be willing to realize that their interpretations of the conflict are not the only valid ones.

Illegitimately. Post-revisionist revisionists such as Ilan Pappé and Mordechai Bar-On have tried to contribute to a deeper understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict by legitimizing both sides' narratives and emphasizing the importance of recognizing the other party's narrative. The pro-Israeli attitude still shines through with most of the contributors.

What then is the result when these conflict resolution proposals contribute even more radical disagreement? The author here draws in a contributor from the other side, Nadim Rouhana, who believes that Israeli authorities must realize the degree of violence and injustice inherent in the Zionist project. The solution for her is not that the parties meet halfway, but that the Israeli authorities recognize that one of the narratives, namely the Israeli, is completely illegitimate. Then we can talk about the disagreement being radical.

A conflict is not lessened by being silenced or invisible, but by being made clearer.

The violence in focus. A conflict is not less by trying to dampen or invisible it, but by making it clearer. Ramsbotham moves around what he calls the "east front of the error steps."

It is not the conflict that needs to be resolved, but the violence, the author believes. Sometimes it is actually necessary to increase the tension rather than attenuate it, in order to clarify what the disagreements actually consist of. In violent conflicts, it is often best not to attenuate the conflict itself, because it helps to make it invisible. , while the violence remains the same. This seems to be Ramsbotham's main point in resolving conflict: overcoming violence, not conflict itself.

Because we can live with conflicts as long as they are not violent – yes, we do mustn't Living with them: "Conflicts cannot be overcome," he writes, "because they are embedded in all social situations – between people, states and countries." But the violence in them can be removed.

Live with disagreement. When Conflict Resolution Fails is a really good book, coming at just the right time, if there is such a thing in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Et
Any contribution that goes in the opposite direction of Trumpism must be said to be welcome anyway.

The author writes: "We choose to resolve complex conflicts if we choose rigid either-or solutions. Compound issues require us to develop the ability to live with deep disagreement. ”

Henning Næs
Henning Næss
Literary critic in MODERN TIMES.

You may also like