Friday, February 29

Attack Iran, With Words

This blog is not overly political and normally confines itself to the business and hands-on practise of mediation, leaving lofty principled debates to well qualified others.

But when I received this message from a senior figure like Bill Lincoln - who is the Executive Director of the Conflict Resolution, Research and Resource Institute, Inc and co-founder of the International Coalition of Concerned Mediators and who caught our attention in 2006 with a Mediators’ Call to Action developed at Keystone, Colorado - I felt it deserved air time.

"Dear Geoff,
We would like to alert ICCM's attention to the OP-Ed entitled
Attack Iran, With Words that appeared in the New York Times on Feb. 20, 2008.

We believe it is vital to comment on this piece because at times it "flirts" with misusing the honest intent and credibility of the negotiation process for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict -- even if it were to mean war.

Attack Iran, With Words purports to advocate direct negotiations and diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran but it does so with allowance for a possible permissible purpose of entering into negotiations in ‘bad faith’. ‘Bad faith’ in that the true intention of entering negotiations may NOT be to deal with the conflict's substantive issues, but instead possibly to misuse one's own invitation to negotiate as a mere perfunctory gesture or even as a "checked off" pretext for justifying the use of military force against Iran.

For anyone to misuse or even to suggest abusing the process’ trust and good faith commitment necessary for candid negotiations to be successful would cheapen and discredited the whole professional conflict resolution field and diplomacy itself. Not only would the prospect of achieving a durable non-violent solution to the Iran-US conflict become considerably remote, but other future negotiations processes, or even current international commitments, would be rightly scrutinized for ulterior motives and dubious sincerity.

Whenever we see a negotiation or mediation processes being exploited in this manner as a means to tease or to deceive the public and media that all non-violent options were exhausted we as professional mediators and negotiators must speak out in defense of the integrity of the processes and the profession itself.

We do not believe that op-ed author Reuel Marc Gerecht's intent was to promote deception, but he planted a very unwelcome and dangerous seed.

William F. Lincoln CRI Executive Director"

[read Attack Iran, With Words here and Bill Lincoln's recent piece Like it or Not, the United States and Iran are Partners: Seven Principles for Moving Forward Negotiations]

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