In his book "Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts," Douglas E. Noll, professional mediator and peace consultant, offers case studies to illustrate the weaknesses of common negotiation methods. Noll asserts that politicians and diplomats often lack the skills for effective peacemaking and negotiation. He writes, "In many cases, they are using old ideas and antiquated assumptions in their effort to solve 21st-century problems."
When opposing sides are contentious, he says, the tendency is to try to suppress a rival via threats. As a result, "Diplomatic negotiation is often conducted through the threat of economic sanctions and the exercise of military power."
Such negotiations fail to capitalize on the human tendency toward cooperation and altruism, and hence conflict-resolution and problem-solving are often overlooked.
Noll's ideas are especially relevant today in light of the recent attacks on American diplomatic posts and the impact on America's relations with the Muslim world.
Uprisings such as those of the Arab Spring indicate the masses around the world are beginning to become aware of their collective power. Yet long-standing conflicts show no signs of progress toward peacemaking. Incidents such as the Benghazi tragedy and the loss of life and the anti-American sentiment in the Arab world lead many to question if peace will ever be possible.
Perhaps in the future newer approaches in diplomacy could help make inroads in crucial negotiations during war and conflict. We have seen how the exercise of military power and punitive measures have failed to support the peace process.