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The Nature of Negotiation:
on the issue of NPA as Terrorists and US Foreign Policy


Sassy's comments about the US ascribing communists as terrorists and pitting them as non-negotiable equals. She has an excellent and lawyerly take on the constitutionality problem arising from an act that will be in effect a reversal of what is guaranteed by the Philippine constitution:

That is, belief in any ideology is not a crime. Atrocities committed in that belief will be, but being part of any group with a certain belief system is not. (Communism, Cultism, Satanism, any religion whatsoever, among others). The United States, however, comes to the picture and tells the Philippine government otherwise: that the NPA communists are nothing but terrorists as well. Of course some of their acts maybe classified as terroristic in nature, but their belief in their system is guaranteed by the Philippine constitution. Sassy seems to ask: is it a pretext for another front in their war on terror - so that war booty options are spread elsewhere, now that profits from Iraq are quite shaky.
This is what I have to say:

Isn't there an office in the CIA for disinformation? I doubt the reasons of terror alerts and warnings and their timing - it all seems to point to scaring the bejesus out of everybody in the world, and the Americans mostly, so that an atmosphere of fright is set for the election: all to the advantage of the Bush Camp. If there were terrorists then by all means just catch them!

Now, communists? When will they ever respect our sovereignty? 1935 has been long over, isn't it? I wonder if they will deport anyone for thinking: I am a Jedi Padawan, and I believe in The Force? I wonder how they label their KKK and the local gangs in suburbs in the US which terrorize the neighborhoods in their little ways?

(An interest group - Sassy quipped with a smile.)

Further, I pointed out:

I very dear man to me (he is dead by the way, God rest his soul) --- a father of a childhood friend was recruited into joining the communists way way back when I was 10 years old. He opted out, after much lambanog huddles and deliberations with his peers, my dad, and his family. I think the fact that the NPA didn't do him any harm when he said no gives the group a humane face, that they can be rational when they need to. Even as sometimes they may have arguably extraordinary means of enforcing their laws, they have been gentlemanly in that refusal. If some of these men are like that, then I have high hopes that negotiations will prevail and succeed in the long run.

Let me go to the nature of negotiation: In my previous post on terrorism I have posted a quote from Wikipedia pointing out that terrorism starts when avenues for grievances are blocked, or absolutely unavailable. It is always a last resort. Every act is a manner of dialogue, and by nature will tend to communicate.

Terrorism starts when avenues for grievances are blocked, or absolutely unavailable. It is always a last resort

However any party will try to understand one's act, will be the platform of understanding. Meaning to say, impression and views of any act is the first order of any dialogue, an open-mind is assumed, and the possibility of mistake in understanding should be status-quo.

Now, labeling the other party in any dialogue with assumptions of impression as truth and gospel puts the other party in a box - effectively killing trust and the ontological meaning of a dialogue itself which is based on equality of terms and equality of respect. Remember that dialogue is based on absolute equality.

Anybody who has some units in Philosophy will know that - dialogue is what solves problems. Negotiations are not dialogues -negotiations are arrangement started without equal terms. I know this from my business dealings - one always negotiates with something at the back of the hand, a good card, a last bullet.

For any negotiations to continue it should be masked as dialogue - trying to afford both sides with win-win solutions

It only ends when there is a win-win solution or when one is cornered and have no other choice; the former most likely to happen than the other. Good relationship and repeat orders are the progeny of any win-win solution; negotiations closed based on no other choice are never conducive to repeat orders.

If the US wants insurgencies to stop they need to keep these dialogues open rather risk antagonizing the enemies and lead all to escalating violence. For any negotiations to continue it should be masked as dialogue - trying to afford both sides with win-win solutions. Any other move will be too risky --- well that is of course gray area - it depends really on what the US end goal is: Is it war or peace; immediate profit and no guarantee of stability or longterm stability with no immediate return? Which one is it? Business and Economics are by nature amoral - as long as you get what you want you don't care about the other side. Economics will always weed out the inefficient, and kill off the weak ones - there is no care for humanity in its processes. Long term business however is likely more to be generated when both parties get something out of it. Easy.

At the end of the day there will only be two outcomes of negotiations: an hand shaken, or disagreement. Both will breed possibilities: discord and stagnancy (back to square one), conflict or understanding, mutual benefit, etc. Bullying as foreign policy doesn't work in times of peace - the moment it is used the negotiations breed little worms of a silent war - every little one of them can grow and mature to devour the even the barest of improvement that negotiations have created.

Carl Sagan in his novel, "Contact", has a part in the novel that never was included in the movie that featured Jodie Foster. In that movie, (please bear with me, at the end of this will be my point) Extraterrestrial life forms "contacted" humanity by returning a message. However, much to the dismay of the American President, that message was contained in a coded rehash of a TV broadcast featuring Adolf Hitler opening the Berlin Games - it being one of the earliest high-band TV broadcast that was sent worldwide. He meant to say that for all the 'greatness' of humanity, we have no choice but to have sent such a monster for an emissary. He wondered how humanity would hpave been introduced that way - starting on the wrong foot.

Bullying as foreign policy doesn't work in times of peace - the moment it is used the negotiations breed little worms of a silent war - every little one of them can grow and mature to devour the even the barest of improvement that negotiations have created.

Apparently though, it is precisely Hitler's bullying persona that prompted the Aliens to contact the Humans - they contend: never in the History of the Universe has any civilization survived whenever a figurehead with such psyche comes up. Humanity was at the brink, as civilizations that are created this way eventually kill themselves off in the process.

What I mean to say is, assuming that is true, and I for one can sense wisdom in that statement by the great visionary Carl Sagan, then a policy of negotiations by bullying will not solve anything. History has proven it of the many civilizations that used forced and conflict to drive its machine. War will provide the motive for the inventions and ingenuity and heightens the creative spirits of humanity but unless there is longterm peace, that is the only time when civilizations can have enough momentum to create and to advance. If we want peace and stability, sometimes a threat to war and conflict is necessary to force the other party to consider terms. When the war starts however and enough resources have been drained or voices have been hoarse, both parties, tired in their bickering will fold and say to each other: let's talk and negotiate. It's in our nature - to communicate and therefore dialogue is always a fundamental option.

Now, knowing that eventually it will all just end in such dire consequences or negotiations, isn't the latter the more obvious philosophical choice? Encroachment in other countries' affairs does seem like not the best option then for it invites difference in opinion and thus, conflict. Seeing that the philosophical choice is not a choice of the Bush Administration right now, I wonder then, if policy-making in America is based on philosophy or economics.

In November 2004, we will know.


posted by Jdavies @ 8/11/2004,


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The Author


Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.

About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.


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