Negotiations Theory Goes to War -- Again

With apologies to Mark Twain, rumors of the North Korean bomb's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Hope flared briefly last fall when the protagonists in the "six—party talks" announced that they had agreed in principle on a nuclear—free Korean Peninsula. But last month's unofficial meeting in Japan among representatives from North and South Korea, China, the United States, Japan, and Russia ended without a breakthrough. More such disappointments lie in store — and the armistice negotiations ending the Korean War help explain why. Some common features between the two sets of multiparty talks: high stakes, the same parties (more or less), seemingly irreconcilable interests, and a strong "zero sum" dynamic, meaning that any gain for one side is — or appears to be — a loss for the other. In zero—sum situations, success goes to the side that manages to parley national power — measured in diplomacy, economics, ideological or "soft" power, and...(Read Full Article)

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