What do you do if they won’t negotiate?

In 2016, Christian Morel published an article in Négociations on “Le refus de négocier”. The article, a well-presented analysis of the different sources and dynamics of refusal, began with a challenge of a past observation of mine (Zartman 1976, 2) that “Ours is an age of negotiation,” and proposed instead “the idea of an emerging age of non-negotiation.” I do not plan to take up the argument but rather to take it as a working hypothesis, since it was well analyzed, and to turn to the response: What if they won’t negotiate, what can we do?

There has been much recent emphasis, addressed primarily to governments as well as non-governmental analysts, on the need and possibility of negotiation in dealing with the significant rise of terrorism (Zartman & Faure 2011, Faure & Zartman 2010, Zartman 2005; Wiktorowicz 2004; Victoroff 2005). Governments have to say they will not negotiate with terrorists, lest they encourage terrorism and hostage-taking. But governments often have to negotiate with terrorists, to save lives, to make deals, to gain side effects. Thus, the emphasis on how, when and why to negotiate has been well-placed. The challenge, which negotiations analysts have spent major efforts in addressing, is how to operate when the occasion to negotiate presents itself. Whether there are more negotiations with terrorists now than at some time before has not been put to a statistical test, but at least one can say that the idea of “negotiating with the devil” is more understood and more accepted (again, a statistical test is still lacking). One might even say that, in this regard, there is emerging acceptance – if not an age – of negotiation.

But, in fact, the opposite is indeed highly, if not more, prevalent. While governments may have come to accept and develop the idea of negotiating with terrorists, and analysts may be ever expanding their analyses of negotiations, it is the “other side” that refuses. While status quo states seek to settle conflicts and differences by negotiation, revisionist states refuse to discuss their non-negotiated faits accomplis. While analysts preach the value of reaching out to fanatics pushed to their acts by economic and spiritual disillusion, jihadis refuse their approaches. Indeed, a major challenge of the age is not to learn to be open to negotiation when confronted by conflicts and problems, but rather how to deal with others who refuse such advances. What to do if they don’t want to negotiate?

Situations of Refusal [1]

Not all refusals are the same, as Morel’s article emphasizes. They differ according to source and agent, among other possible categorizations. Here distinctions will be drawn according to agency, recognizing and cutting across the Morel’s categorization by source. In practical terms with conceptual and policy implications, refusals can be declared by individuals, rebellions, and major states. These categories are not hermetic but, despite their overlaps, they each have distinguishing characteristic that set them apart from the other two.

Individuals are generally true believers motivated by a desire to cause destruction, to extract vengeance on the target or on society in general, and, in jihadi cases, to go to heaven with some worthy damage in the process. Individuals are non-territorial and, although inspired or launched by an organization, tend then to be acting on their own (Z&R). Jihadi protest involves no organization at all as a means of action but simply individuals, organized if at all into network or “rhizomes.” This is the “system” (nizam) of Abdu Musab al-Suri (2005, 2010), an overly formal word for the appeal to activism.by a foremost analyst of jihadism (Lia 2004’ Stalinski 2011)). Violent jihadis, inspired but not collectively organized into more than small groups and contacts, act on their own convictions, whether sourced in alienation, eschatology, rejection, revenge, hatred, powerlessness, or other (Atran 2004; al-De’emeh 2015; Kruglanski 2009). But they act in and from a social context, and that is the origin of their sources of conduct (Kepel 2015). What they need to turn their individual feelings into action is encouragement and materiel, but they are not part of an organization as troops of an army or members of a party (Zartman & Khan 2011). This distinction is often lost in current accounts as to whether suiciders have acted as a member of an organization or not as a means of determining whether they are terrorists or not (as if there were a relation). In an equation of context plus inclination, membership in the organization is not required to produce action, just a bit of advice and direction. Or even in its absence, an individual in a context can act wholly on his or her own initiative.

It is significant that this sort of networking was also characteristic of the muntafadin’s activity in the Arab Spring (al-Raggal 2015). Networking individuals, like rhizomes, stayed connected through social media but without any leader or a central organization or a direction. A general call went out to meet at a corner to go protest and whoever came went; another notification would produce a different group at a different corner. The uprising youth had been trained by the old order to be wary of politics, distrust parties, avoid organization that could be infiltrated. It is because of this, along with other reasons, that the muntafadin did not engage with political parties, join organized political action after the overthrow, of negotiate. They wanted to stay loose, to be free to act. The muntafadin of course were neither jihadis nor violent, a striking characteristic of the Arab Spring intifadat, But the fact that a similar type of networking was predominant in the region is significant.

The attackers on the World Trade Center in 2001 were acting as individuals, organized by al-Qaeda; the doctor who blew up the English airport a few years later was acting completely on his own, inspired by 9/11. The attacks on Madrid and London in March 2004 and July 2005 were programmed by al-Qaeda; the attacks on Paris in November 2015 were programmed by ISIS, but the attacks on the office party in San Bernadino or on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June 2016 and on the crowds in Nice and Munich in July 2016 were carried out on individual initiative, according to police accounts, helped by the network but not guided from Raqqa.

This characteristic is important to understand because it makes the matter of bringing jihadi violence to negotiate so difficult. There is no organization to work on, to negotiate with, just individuals, at best interacting, in a context. Many of the individuals in question have had some problem or petty crime or personality difficulty discovered only after the fact, but none of these traits were dominant and the individuals often gave no striking signs of violent behavior beforehand. Other did, and certainly still others that industrious police detective work has preventively uncovered carried some cause for alert, including contacts and even travel personal to Syria. The complex of motives boils down to two: anger and salvation, not mutually exclusive nor always separate. In this world, some individuals express a profound emotional revulsion toward the world in which they live. Terrorism allows them to do something, to be somebody; salvation gives them an instant future. The bitterness of their anger is hard to empathize, but it comes from being forced to live in someone else’s world, with no participation, no future, no escape. It is hard for us secularists of the West to understand the personal importance of religion, we who have lost it and have not had it since Apostolic times or the Middle Ages, if then. As in the Middle Ages, adventurism and camaraderie are also folded in, but the energy comes from religion, lit by anger. As a result, the individuals are not motivated to demand, but only to destroy. Their actions are nonnegotiable, only demonstrative. To make their point, their attacks are directed against civilians, with the purpose of causing fear, not of taking over targets – in other words, jihadi terrorism.

Bringing the disconnected members, generally youth, of the networks into negotiation means making efforts to assure them of material and spiritual satisfaction, elements whose absence leads them to search for replacements, in this or the other world. “If life here and now is pointless, why not leave it, and make a statement while leaving?” Kepel (2015) points out how, rejected as riffraff by Nicolas Sarkozy in France, the youth without a present or a future who rioted in 2005 and their families voted massively for François Hollande in the 2012 election, only to be met with a total absence of any remedial program for their economic welfare. From this disillusioned and alienated youth come the jihadis, as the work of Sageman (2004) revealed over a decade ago. The state cannot to be expected to provide spiritual satisfaction, but measures to provide a meaningful life are within the brief of government policy.

The second category concerns refusal by rebellions to negotiate. Violent organizations, jihadist or nationalist, generally seek regime change in a given state or territory. Jihadis consider the government to have fallen prey to urban corruption and foreign domination and fallen from the true religion (ibn Khaldun 1400/1950, 117-126). Nationalist movements and jihadi organizations pose a threat to the extent that their message makes sense and rings true in the ears of the public. Therefore, to make them open to negotiate, their message must be undercut and their efforts at overthrowing blocked. Islamist takeovers, real or threatened, have arisen because they attracted support as a protest—not a religious—movement against a corrupt, unattentive state in Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Algeria, Egypt and Afghanistan. Getting rid of corruption is a difficult task, because the house cleaner is often also the house dirtier and so has a credibility and effectiveness problem; it usually takes a change of incumbents to make the change in practices. Yet first and foremost, a government must defend its title as protector of its people and as responsible purveyor of their welfare.

Similarly, nationalist movements make an appeal that rings a bell in the hearts of followers and they play on the perception—correct or imagined—that their identity group is discriminated against within the country and by the government. Since the government often does accumulate resources for itself—frequently an ethnic group of its own—these appeals often ring true, but even where they do not, the identity card has a strong appeal (Arnson & Zartman 2005). These appeals are usually territorialized, that is, the identity group is associated with a given territory; often that territory is not merely a homeland but is also sacred. To the extent that they are territorial, at least in demands if not in holdings, rebellions are easier to negotiate with than groups held together only by belief systems (Vasquez & Valeriano 2009).

Logically, such groups would seek negotiations and many of them do. Much depends on the phase of the conflict. Conflicts moving out of the petition phase and into confrontation usually go through an intermediary phase of consolidation of leadership and organization (Zartman 2008). Negotiation is unlikely during such consolidation unless an emerging leader can use it to lock in his predominance. It is more likely, however, that consolidation will mean outbidding for the toughest position and that negotiation at this point would only be conceived as weakness (Lilje 2010). When the parties have fought themselves into a mutually hurting stalemate, in which continuation would be debilitating for for both sides and no overcoming escalation is conceivable, opens the possibility of negotiation, as long as the parties feel the cost and pain of the stalemate (Zartman 2000).

However, other situations that inhibit negotiation are also possible. One is the S5 Situation—a soft stable self-serving stalemate—in which each side holds some territory, the rebels busy with governing their share and raising support for their case, often through illicit trade, and the government is busy governing the rest of the country; no one seeks escalation and no one seeks negotiation, not as refusal but as disinterest. Another is Default Stalemate, where the parties fear the unacceptable situation that victory or even compromise with the other side would impose (Zartman 2016). They fell not only that they are winning by holding on; they feel that they dare not lose, by moving. Related is a more procedural element: the sides do not know how to negotiate. They know too well that negotiation is giving something to get something and they are unwilling to play the giving game. Their position is so integral and vulnerable that they fear any concession is the beginning of collapse; in fact, no concession is possible in their position. Objectively, the parties should be hurting but refuse to feel the pain; their belief systems dictate no compromise and therefore no negotiation. Their refusal is existential, both substantively and procedurally. In all cases it is the populations and notably refugees and IDPs who feel the pain.

Examples come from a wide variety of cases: The Polisario in the Western Sahara meets Moroccan representatives on occasion as urged by the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General (PESG) but refuses to negotiate, merely repeating its demand in the face of Morocco’s compromise offer of autonomy. In South Sudan, the parties play the game of responding to the UN, AU and IGAD about negotiations but refuse to attend meetings and load the acceptances with unacceptable conditions. Between Israel and Palestinian representatives, the situation is similar: both sides try to grab the flag of negotiation but use the position of the other side to refuse under current conditions, while Netanyahu creates new facts on the ground (similar to the situation in the third category, below). In Yemen, observers have often remarked that the sides are stalemated but do not admit it nor admit the pain, as they destroy the country’s infrastructure, habitations, food capacity, and sanitation. The position of the Asad government in Syria is of the same type; despite verbal agreements exacted under duress from Russia, the government refuses to negotiate and the opposition responds in kind. President Asad has long felt, correctly, that negotiation would bring the loss of his position, and the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) (not to be confused with the Syrian National Council (SNC)) is afraid to negotiate with Asad because of its past experiences and because, in its disunity, it fears facing a tightly organized government.

The third category concerns refusal to negotiate from major revisionist states. As in the previous category, the refusal is draped in conditional willingness and follows faits accomplis that freeze the subject of a proposed negotiation. Azerbaijan and Armenia have refused negotiations for more than a ceasefire over Nagorno Karabakh. Russia hid behind Asad in early UN attempts at negotiation under SRSG’s Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi, before it turned to purposed negotiations manager in Astana and Geneva 3 and 4 (Hinnebusch & Zartman 2015). More unwaveringly, Russia has refused meaningful negotiations over Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. China, standing behind its nine-dash line, has refused negotiation over the South China, and even on a code of conduct for the area has insisted on long discussions toward a non-binding agreement. The case of Israel night be added from the previous category. Non-negotiability in these cases is purely strategic, for negotiation would weaken the absolute justification of the position.

The importance of this category for the stability of the international system of order and its normative underpinnings makes it of salient significance, but the parties involved put it beyond effective action. Norms, such as the non-conquest of territory by force, are arrived at by consensus and then enforced, a process that may involve negotiation on details and applications, but generally not on the basic tenet of the norm itself.

Approaches of Response

What do you do if they won’t negotiate? Appropriate responses are not evenly applicable to all categories, but they do often cut across categories, as will be indicated. Responses include ripening, mediation, alternatives, fragmentation, context, training, and introspection. But they also involve acknowledgements, changes and satisfactions from the other side.

Where parties do not find themselves in a mutually hurting stalemate even though the objective signs of a stalemate that should hurt are present, an effort at ripening is called for. Mediators and other outside parties are needed to convince the obstinate parties that they are stuck and it costs, that they cannot win, and that there are outcome that are not suicidal. This was the tactic, unfortunately without success, of Lakhdar Brahimi in Syria (Hinnebusch & Zartman 2016). Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker and Secretary Henry Kissinger made the same efforts, more successfully, in Namibia and Israel (Crocker 1993; Golan 1975). It is also worth noting that the parties fought themselves into a hurting stalemate in El Salvador in 1992 and Colombia in 2013-2015 after decades of refusing to negotiate over non-negotiables, and arrived at the same conclusion (particularly on the government side) without actual fighting in South Africa in 1990.

The response is more difficult to apply to individual instance of non-negotiability, particular in millennialist cases. The suicide bomber is rational and purposeful; he is difficult to persuade that there are better ways to heaven or better methods of destruction, and if there were, the persuasion would have to come well before the agent was on his way to explosion, as will be discussed below (Atran 2004). On the other side, it takes stern and decisive responses to roll back faits accomplis by states that see themselves as powerful. In this case, one must remember that mutually hurting stalemates can be imposed in perspective as well as in situ; states planning an abnormal act can be the target of strong messages that such action would bring about pain and a block to implementation.

The second response, related, is to play on alternatives. Basic negotiation theory tells us that negotiator negotiates on alternatives and expectations, and that security points or BATNAs are the best measure of power in negotiations. When parties cannot change their positions, that can make them look more or less attractive by changing the best alternatives to a negotiated solution. Lower security points weaken a party, whereas alternatives without negotiation put the party in a stronger position. For the suicidal jihadi, the BATNA so far exceeds any negotiated possibility in his current frame of mind that his action becomes fully non-negotiable. Faits accomplis strengthen the party’s BATNA, but such measures as refusal to recognize, imposition of costs, and strong threat lower the security point.

Heading toward a fait accompli, Khrushchev’s USSR was met by a strong response to lower his security point, and last minute negotiations between parties on 1962 confronted with an impending World War III that neither desired. Macedonian Albanians on the verge of declaring independence were told by NATO mediators in 1994? that the move would not be recognized and that they had better lower their sights, leading to reduced goals and negotiations at Ohrid, keeping Macedonia shakily together. A similar message has been delivered to North Korea both at the Six Party Talks in 1996-2002? and again in the nuclear crisis of 20016, with results hard to estimate as yet. A strong example comes from the Iran denuclearization talks where the P3 were demandeurs in 2003-2006? But where the P5+1 made Iran demandeur with the UN and unilateral sanctions, lowering their security point and eventually making the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) of 2015 possible. (Interestingly a similar situation arose in the Iran Hostage negotiations of 1980). BATNAs are a major negotiating tool.

Mediation has ripening as its first task the ripening of perceptions so that the parties can be brought to feel that they cannot win and their the stalemate is hurting them. More broadly, third parties are useful in persuading reefing parties that negotiation carries gains as well as risks and that even if not negotiation can be useful in cutting losses (a matter of even greater importance to parties than gains) (Kahnemann & Tversky 1970). Mediators gradually overcame refusal in Rwanda after 1995, in Cyprus in 2006 (then overthrown in a referendum), and in Kosovo in 2006 (although they were unnecessary in Colombia in 2012-2016 and South Africa in 1990-1994, at least as major actors. Mediator act by persuasion; they have few other tools and weapons, and persuasion depends on the parties felt need for negotiation, a circle that goes back to ripeness. Too little credit and analysis have been given to the study of persuasion and its use of particular arguments in particular situations to move parties’ perceptions.

In the abstract, mediation is nothing but good, since its absence leaves refusal on the table. But mediation can be a trap, bring an ostensible agreement to negotiate but under such conditions and with such delays that the agreement is tantamount to refusal in new clothing; the conditions and delays in Syria under UN mediation and South Sudan under Africa Union/ IGAD mediation, both in 2012-2018, are sad examples. Yet mediation must be tried, if only to keep standards alive and prominent, to provide working analyses of the conditions of refusal, and to allow for the threat to withdraw (as President Carter has used on occasion) as a pressure on the parties.

Perhaps curiously, training can provide a way over refusal, since one of the obstacles in negotiating with rebellions (including jihadis) is the inability of parties to grasp the dynamics of negotiation. NGOs are sometimes accepted by rebel parties to provide training in negotiation in the belief that it will help them win if they were to negotiate; while it may do so, it also inculcates such basic understandings as “giving something to get something” and “if you can’t take it you must buy it, and negotiation is setting the price, thus introducing notions of compromise and reward. Rebel groups often look at negotiations as simply demanding a price and waiting for it to be paid, which is somewhat unattractive to the other party and serve to reinforce the refusal. They need to be persuaded that negotiating is in their interest and that therefore they should learn how to do it. Lack of understanding of the process and how to pursue it delayed negotiations with the rebel groups of Darfur at Abuja and at Doha; the Polisario does not know how to negotiate; the Islamic State (d a’esh) has had no idea of what is involved in negotiation, or perhaps does have enough idea to know that it is not possible for them.

A very different tack is fragmentation. Any side has many parties and any party has many divisions (Levkowitz 2015). This situate poses a paradox for negotiation: negotiation requires a single, coherent partner, but the way to promote negotiation may require efforts to break up sides and parties and to engage the engageables, isolating the spoilers (Zartman 2008, 254-255). Obviously the paradox is overcome when obstruction by the refusniks is overcome by the consolidation of the negotiables, bringing the militants along as negotiations proceed, to create a new coherent party around the negotiations. For present purposes, a way of overcoming rejection and refusal is to foster splits in the party and encouraging a tractable faction to show that negotiation can provide benefits attractive to the rest.

Examples are highly diverse. The Viet Cong agreed to the Kissinger negotiations in 1972 when one member of the divided central committee of the Vietnam Communist Party changed sides to make a majority for talking (Zartman 1976). Negotiations in Burundi began in 1995 after the death of the president in a plane crash and continued party by party following a train-leaving -the-station tactic of including in the unfolding agreement anyone who dropped refusal and was willing to join; the evolving agreement made itself more attractive that spoiling (again a lowering of the spoilers’ BATNA). The PLO continually attempted to bring the political wing of Hamas into a united Palestinian agreement, while the militant wing held out again decommissioning. Often the split is accompanied by the arrival of a new leader; the rise of Mugabe at the head of ZANU over the younger military leaders, the replacement of Manuel Marulanda and then Alfonso Cano by Timoshenko of the political wing, the election of Barak Obama in the US and then Hassan Rouhani in Iran (and then the involvement of technicians in the last phase) made the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, FARC agreement of 2016, and the JCPoA of 2015 possible and successful (Stedman 1991; Rettberg & Nasi 2018; Tabatabai 2018). It is hard to say that the opposing side brought about the fragmentation that overcame the refusal to negotiate (although the argument can be made in the case of Lancaster House) but it is certain that fragmentation however reinforced did so.

While direct negotiations and persuasion are hard to effectuate on the individual level, there are contextual changes that can reach the disaffected. Disillusioned kindred souls can provide understanding companionship and a search for alternatives, as in Paris (Al-De’emeh 2015). Salafi study groups and moderate imams can provide authority and counseling for acceptable ways of being religious, as in London (Lambert 2008, 2011). Good police intelligence is important at this level, but it must be handled discretely, lest it merely add to the reaction Burn out, backlash and buyout are identified as the most common causes of defection of individuals from terrorist organizations that can be used as countermeasures (Ross & Gurr 1989; Shahin 2010; Bjørgo & Horgan 2009; Zartman & Khan 2011). It worth repeating a list of axioms that was offered earlier (Zartman& Khan 2011, 48):

  • Begin with listening and respect, not with selling and compelling.
  • Do not seek to negotiate a belief system; focus on what the belief system permits and forbids.
  • Give something to get something (the basic rule of negotiation).
  • Help separate attainable from unattainable goals, and make aspirations attainable
  • Show alternative paths to an attainable alternative future that do not entail violence.

Since it is jihadi individuals that one is dealing at this level with countermeasures are a one-on-one job, and so it is social support for a jihadi career that needs to be turned around at the same time.

Finally, again on a different level, refusal can be penetrated by induced introspection. One of the arguments for negotiating with terrorists is that it serves to make them think, about their own positions and the conditions of their refusal. Any kind of contact—persuasive, informal, authoritative, even distant—can induce reflection on the part of the refusers and lead them to dig into their own positions, consider their sources and foundations, study further into their origins and contexts, and examine their implications (Bessey 2013). None of this involves consideration of the other party’s position but merely deeper reflection on one’s own. It does often involve a third party, not as a mediator but as assistance to further study. Therefore there is a role, particularly in dealing with individual refusers, for authorities and learned figures in the same body of belief.

Gama’ islamiya in Cairo reviewed and then revised its position to come to the belief that Islam does not require or condone assassination, as they had done to President Sadat; they came to this conclusion while in jail and discussion with learned fuaqaha (Goerzig 2011). A police program in London engaged the service of salafi leaders to set up classes for youth inclined to jihadism to teach a deeper understanding of the Faith that rejected violence. Without a third party, the leaders of the FARC around 2010 began to reexamine their beliefs under the pressure of their stalemate against the Colombian army) to arrive at the conclusion that politics was a better way than violence to promote agrarian reform (Rettberg & Nasi 2018). On the other side, F W deKlerk personally came to the conclusion around the end of 1989, that the current apartheid system was costly and ineffective in assuring the white way of life in South Africa, and that buying the black majority into a new system that traded political power for socio-economic security would be more effective (Zartman 1995). Premier Khrushchev fell into a solitary mode of introspection in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis on 28 October 1962 and offered a proposition for negotiation.

These responses to refusal to negotiate come from different angles and have no running theme. The idea of ripening in various forms plays prominently but there are other approaches, and they apply differently to different agents of refusal. They do suggest an array of way to penetrate refusal.

Implications of Response

Negotiations are indeed giving to get, and one may ask at the end of the list what the other side is willing to give to get the jihadis, rebels, and revisionist states off their refusal to negotiate. Refusals are often met by their mirror image, contributing to Morel’s characterization of the current era. Many of the examples given above involve double-sided refusals, providing stalemates, where neither side will admit pain (or will blame the pain as a necessary adjunct of a correct position, as in “no gain without pain.”) What must we do if we expect them to drop their refusal? A response for ourselves can be characterized in two directions: acknowledge and reconsider.

There are a number of aspects of the conflict situation that call for a greater acknowledgement. The individual, rebellion and revisionist state need to be acknowledged by each other as legitimate players with standing if it is to drop its refusal to negotiate. Echoing Golda Meir’s query “Who are the Palestinians?’ and maintaining textbooks which do not show Israel are prime inhibitors to negotiation, as was the Peruvian put-down to the Ecuadorians that “you didn’t even exist” when the disputed border was drawn. Recognizing a party does not imply agreement with its arguments; it only gives it the right to make them.

Similarly, it is important to acknowledge that a conflict is an indication of a problem and the opponent’s existence is a sign of grievances. Again, the grievances may not be legitimate, although more often then not they are an indication that there is something there that needs attention. Conflict, and above all violence, is often an effort to get attention to a problem that is otherwise ignored; the violence then becomes the issue, overshadowing the underlying grievance and other grievances accumulated along the way. “We have begged the President. We’ve begged the federal government. That’s all we’ve been doing, begging and begging,” said Black protest leader Stokely Carmichael on 16 June 1966; “From now on, you know what to tell them,” as he announced Black Power violence. It is not to be expected that a Biblical Peace will descend on the Holy Land when a 2-state solution is adopted, but at the same time the festering Palestinian problem encloses a number of real grievances that cry for attention. A response to refusal should involve a revision of refusals to consider grievances that underlie the other party’s refusal. This element does not require dramatic changes in policy or admissions of involvement or culpability, but merely an examination of the issues of concern to the other side. A new openness to acknowledge that grievances exist is helpful if not necessary in overcoming refusal.

Spiritual needs also need to be acknowledged. One does not negotiate belief systems, and their refusal to negotiate is fully natural. One can well negotiate the implications and behaviors associated with beliefs, but negotiation is not conversion. Deradicalization is a major thrust of anti-terrorist programs (Bjørgo & Horgan 2009). The cases of introspection cited above left the basic beliefs intact and even revise them to encourage negotiation. Negotiation may involve even an acknowledgement of the opponent’s unchanged aims while promoting revised means to the end. DeKlerk and the FARC left their goals intact, while shifting the ways to attend them in order to make negotiation possible.

A second consideration that needs to accompany responses to non-negotiation is to reconsider accompanying position, in a number of different directions. Revision and acknowledgement begin with de-demonizing (Faure 2007). It becomes possible to negotiate when the other side is no longer portrayed as the devil, as evil, or as the Great Satan. Such images make contacts impossible before a watching public. A revision of images can also enable the inauguration of minor gestures—pingpong diplomacy with China, Olympic games with North Korea. Such gestures enable the parties to talk politely and at least procedurally to each other and permit personal contact that allow substantive exchanges later on.

In sum, there are appropriate measures that may work to overcome refusals to negotiate. As is the case with negotiation in general, it is quicker to identify appropriate moves than to put them into effect, which often take concentrated attention and patient effort. Although refusal comes from different agent sin different situations, general responses can be tailored to fit such differences. However, they also need to be accompanied by some new self-directed responses on the operating party, to overcome its own contribution to refusal.


  • [1]Much of the argument of this section was prepared for a conference of dealing with jihadis organized by Isak Svensson of Uppsala University.


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