Negotiation and Compromise, Part IV

The end of World War I was the penultimate exercise of forced compromise as the Allies held Germany’s feet to the fire for their aggression. The result was a Germany that printed money to pay reparations which led to extraordinary inflation and eventually the rise of Adolf Hitler. This wasn’t compromise after all, it was punishment.

There have been unequal situations where a victor in a conflict hasn’t dictated injurious terms. The U.S. well understood that to re-build Germany and Japan was far more important than extracting revenge. There was continued personal animosity and there continue to be issues to do with WWII, but for the most part, there was a certain grace to the American position after the war.

Having the upper hand has always been considered to be a good thing. And it is, but fairness is a concept that reveals itself over time. Killing the men and enslaving the women is a tribal concept that works less well in today’s world where electronic devices can record and remember brutality. Long memories and revenge are ably assisted in such a way.

Grace is ultimately what is given in a fair compromise. Negotiations should not be designed to prove a point. The point is most likely made before negotiations commence. What needs to come out of negotiation is what the future will look like and how viable it will be to sustain. Compromises may seem onerous at the time they are made, but they may be worth the burden.

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