Desert Storm and Mediation/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on August 8, 2015

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Richard Haass recently wrote an article about Desert Storm and what it taught us. He stated that that war, unlike subsequent wars in the new century, taught us the importance of having modest goals. In desert storm the invasion of Iraq was aimed at stopping that nation’s aggression. We had the good sense to limit our reach once that was accomplished. We did not need to expand our goals by e.g. removing Saddam Hussein from office. Knowing was is attainable and what is not is an important prerequisite to success in an undertaking.

It strikes me that what is true in warfare is also true in negotiation. You can’t go into a situation expecting to get it all. You need to be realistic therefore in what you hope to accomplish.

In a divorce, people often want to attain everything that seems within their reach, or in the alternative, to deny their opposing number from attaining very much of anything. That goal is not a realistic one. Mediation teaches the importance of Win-Win. The strategy is not to win so the other party can lose. It is to allow both parties to leave the process feeling they have won something that is important to them. How this is done is important. That it be done, however, is crucial for a lasting agreement and for the ultimate success of the negotiation. Litigation cannot accomplish this most modest goal. Mediate don’t litigate.

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