Keeping Friends Close/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on October 29, 2019

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Long ago, the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu gave the following advice: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” The decision to no longer treat the Syrian Kurds as allies was a decision that few have supported. The work in defeating Isis was largely done by the valiant effort of Kurdish soldiers. Stangely, despite being pushed aside and demeaned by the US, the Kurds were apparently essential for the successful raid that ended in the suicide of Isis leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi. A headline on Axios.com said it well: “Baghdadi raid depended on international ties Trump has spurned.” The US was fortunate that the Kurds rose above their humiliation, but this is rarely the case. It is always best to preserve friendships and good relations.

In disputes such as divorce and business breakups, it is easy to look upon the other party in dispute as an enemy. Enemies are often spurned and rendered vulnerable. But is a former spouse who is also a co-parent, an adversary? Do the parents not need each other to succeed as co-parents? A former business partner often has secrets about the strengths and weaknesses of a business he once helped run. Does it make sense to treat such former colleagues as enemies? And if they indeed are enemies, does it not make sense to follow the advice of Sun Tzu? Hold them close. The process of mediation helps make sense of difficult issues and/or people. Litigation will never convert a potential enemy into a friend. Mediate don’t litigate.