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Volume 5

Expanded Contents

1: Perspective And Summary
2: What is Peace?
3:Alternative Concepts of Peace
5:The Social Contract Model
6:The Global Convention of Minds
7: The Just Peace Principles
8:The Just Peace
9:Implementation of a Just Peace:Incrementalism
11: The Positive Peace Principle
12:The Grand Master Principle

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace

On What To Do

An Enlightened Foreign Policy

Positive Peace Principle

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


Chapter 10

Principles Of
Conflict Resolution*

By R.J. Rummel

Peace hath her victories
No less renowned than war.

----John Milton, To the Lord General Cromwell

In In the Minds of Men (1979a)1 I described three principles, attendant subprinciples and rules for making, keeping and fostering peace. They are based on or consistent with the theory, analyses, and conclusions of the previous volumes and are meant to be general principles of conflict resolution for all levels and types of social relationships. They are particularly relevant and important for dealing with potential or actual violent conflict over the national or international status quo. Here I need only summarize the major ideas involved in these principles, keeping in mind the aim to make incremental reforms toward a just peace possible.


If extreme conflict or violence over a status quo erupts, the central problem is to achieve a new, just balance with minimum conflict. Whether from the perspective of a partisan or third party, the Peacemaking Principle is this:1a

You make peace by balancing powers.

Conflict over the status quo is a breakdown of what people and groups want and can and will do. It is a balancing of different powers. To make peace, then, is to achieve a balance of powers--an interlocking of mutual interests, capabilities, and wills.2 The means to accelerate or facilitate this process must therefore be focused directly on the balancing of these elements or the conditions influencing them. These means are diverse and involve a number of considerations, which I have organized into the nine peacemaking subprinciples listed in Table 10.1.3

Table 10.1

10.1.1 Clarify the Conflict Situation

Conflict is a dispute in a situation defined by the parties' underlying goals and beliefs, mutual perception and communication, and the facts involved. The conflict itself is a process of communication--an engagement of fields of expression.4 Passions and beliefs become evident; the nature and intensity of hidden interests surface. In the process of achieving a new structure of expectations, conflict integrates underlying goals and mutual perceptions into a balance among the central interests at stake, the resolution, and the ability of the parties to support them. The balancing process can be shortened, intensity reduced, antagonism lessened, and the resulting expectations made more realistic by clarifying the conflict situation. In this four rules should help the parties.

These four rules--look underneath, look at the facts, look at oneself, and look at the other--alone will not make peace, but they help to focus on the real issues and reduce the emotional content.

10.1.2 Define a "Yesable" Interest6

Peacemaking partially involves a party separating what they want the other to do from the conflict's self-assertive and emotional contents. To this end, phrase demands or requests so that the other can respond with a simple "yes" or "no." Focus on the decisions the other should make and clarify the outcome of these decisions. That is, what will happen if their answer is "yes"? Or no?

Moreover, divide a large interest into smaller ones.7 In some conflict situations agreement is easier on several small issues than on a big one. Concessions on some issues then can be exchanged for a yes on some others. In any case, avoid making principle an issue. Demanding or requesting specific behavior is less conflictful than requiring agreement on a principle. Indeed, some of the most intense national and international conflict--the bloodiest massacres, revolutions, and wars--have occurred over religious and ideological principles. In the final analysis one still may have to stand on principle, but this should be a conscious and rational decision.

Finally, whatever the demand or request, phrase it such that the other's self-esteeem is unaffected. For example, demands that would implicitly concede one's superiority or demean the other invite intense and antagonistic opposition. If esteem related, "yesable" demands must be made, couple them with face-saving, "yesable" offers.

10.1.3 Invoke Overriding Interests

Invoking overriding common interests with the opposing party may reduce the conflict's intensity and scope and make it easier to resolve. One such paramount interest can be shared loyalty to church, party, country, or cause. A common goal may also be invoked. The more important this goal, the more likely it will help to avoid or dampen conflict that might hamper it. For this reason some elites have fomented foreign conflict to unify a nation driven by internal violence. In other situations leaders have raised the specter of a potential aggressor to spur cooperation between ideologically hostile states.

10.1.4 Focus on an Exchange

Conflict over the status quo usually involves force and coercion. Violence is their manifestation. To win or frustrate the other's goals is the intention. Often, however, more will be achieved out of such a conflict and its resolution furthered by (1) making attractive offers and (2) rewarding agreement--that is, by seeking an exchange in which interests are mutually satisfied. This can provide a more durable balance of powers for subsequent cooperation and contribute to a peace of mutual satisfaction.

Of course, one may not always be able to focus on an exchange, especially if the other insists on altering the status quo in his favor, or if making an offer in response to aggression or threats communicates weakness or appeasement. Moreover, the other may make completely unjust demands in the hope that through compromise he will get something. Nonetheless, one should have a disposition toward an exchange. It is the use of force and coercion in a particular situation that should always require the most careful justification.

10.1.5 Emphasize Legitimacy

The more one can establish some legitimate reason, explanation, or justification for the decision one wants the other to make in a conflict situation, the more likely one is to induce a "yes," not because he fears the consequences of a no, nor because he desires what is promised for a yes. Because he believes a yes is right.

To invoke legitimacy, seek precedent for a solution. Showing that what is wanted has been agreed to before by the other party, or by those the other respects, tends to make a demand or request legitimate. Precedent can exist in previously made formal decisions (as in judicial settlement), previous agreements (as in formal contracts), or in previous behavior (as in previous practices or procedures).

Besides invoking legitimacy, recognize a conflict's legitimacy. The other, of course, will see the issues in light of his own interests. But it will hardly facilitate peacemaking to scorn, ignore, or ridicule him for this. To say or imply that his demands or requests are meaningless or silly is unnecessary and intolerant; it raises the heat of conflict and may prolong it. Acknowledge the significance of what the other believes important enough to argue or fight about. Accept the legitimacy of the issue. And accept the legitimacy of the other.

It may also help to involve a legitimate third party. A third party can provide objective fact-finding, encourage hidden interests or beliefs to surface, clarify misperception and miscommunication, and propose compromises. Even the mutual acceptance of a third party and the process of clarifying the issue for him can be first and second steps toward conflict resolution.

10.1.6 Keep Issue and Power Proportional

Excessive promises, threats, or appeals to authority weaken credibility and defeat their use when a vital issue comes along that merits extreme power. And even if successful, excessive power may only buy an expensive, temporary victory, creating resentment and sullen acceptance. Whatever sanctions, threats, offers, or promises are made, keep them in line with the demand or request. That is, make them consistent with the interests involved.

Two rules formalize this important means of easing conflict resolution. Apply power proportional to the interests at stake. And apply power only as relevant to these interests.

10.1.7 Display Commitment

Attention to how the other perceives one's will is essential to peacemaking. Whether he believes one's promises or threats, questions one's legitimacy, or accepts one's capability will help determine if he escalates or settles the conflict. To avoid unnecessary escalation and misunderstandings, therefore, strive for credibility: the basis of demands, requests, or offers should be believable; threats or promises clearly intended and performable. Moreover, protect one's reputation for power. The image of power projected in a conflict substantially influences its resolution. Do not make demands, requests, or offers that question one's power, for the strength and duration of the resulting peace and the nature of future conflicts partially depend on the image of power fostered in this conflict. Finally, through relevant actions and preparations, display a readiness to react to the other's positive or negative responses.

10.1.8 Consider Creating Distance

Creating distance in space from the other party and distance in time from a conflict can calm emotions and facilitate a more rational perspective on the issues. This can be done by temporary withdrawal from the conflict. Of course, in collective social or political conflict and violence, withdrawal can concede moral and physical ground to the other side and thus seriously endanger one's interests. But where the parties are relatively equal, a mutual withdrawal may be workable. A ceasefire in place could be negotiated; a third party (such as United Nations peacekeeping forces) invited to interpose itself between belligerents.

The parties could also be separated. In fact, this may be the only solution to irreconcilable differences between majority and minority racial, religious, ethnic, and nationality groups. As a matter of social justice (the Free Choice Principle)8 groups should be free to form their communities and independently pursue their interests. As a matter of resolving protracted and violent conflict, minorities should have self-determination. For these reasons, voluntarily formed racial or cultural neighborhoods, ethnic reservations, or autonomous regions can contribute to a just peace.

In sum, conflict may be resolved simply by allowing it to fade out or by eliminating the conflict situation. This is achieved by a withdrawal or separation of the parties that allows the heat of battle to cool, rational perspectives on the issues to develop, and the underlying interests to change; or which gives each party an opportunity to satisfy independently their conflicting interests.

10.1.9 Resist Aggression

Violent conquest is usually wrong (the Just Package). Forcibly imposing one's values and goals on another, aside from its general immorality, can create smoldering resentment, grievance, and hostility that later may burst into greater conflict and violence. Nonetheless, in some exceptional conflict situations, the only resolution possible or desirable may be through conquest: a test of strength and the unambiguous violent defeat of the other side--as of Hitler's Germany. To believe that conflict should always be resolved through negotiation, mediation, and compromise invites an aggressor to assume that what is his is his, but what is yours is negotiable. Resisting aggression forces a test of interests, capabilities, and will--if the aggressor so wants it. And this may be a faster, ultimately less conflictful, less violent way of resolving conflict than conciliation or appeasement.

In resisting aggression, gauge different power responses. Do not automatically respond to aggression in kind. The most effective response is one which shifts power to bases which can be employed more effectively, while lessening the risk of violent escalation. And respond proportionally. To meet aggression in equal measure is legitimate, while overreaction risks escalation to a more extended and intense conflict, and underreaction appears weak and risks defeat and repeated aggression.

10.1.10 Conclusion and Qualifications

Such are major subprinciples of peacemaking. Conflict engages what the parties want and can and will do in a situation in which relevant status quo expectations are disrupted. Situational perceptions, expectations, interests, capabilities, and will are the elements of the conflict--and of peacemaking. Material things--land, people, wealth, ports, borders--are merely the tools or objects of conflict. And material conditions, such as the topography of a country or a mountainous border between states, only frame and physically limit conflict. The essence of conflict is an opposition of minds. The arena of conflict is the mental field. The principles and rules for its resolution are psychological.

Now, peacemaking is not necessarily the best and most immediate response to conflict. Doubtlessly, some conflicts are unnecessary, some needlessly intense and long-lasting. But some also are a real and unavoidable clash, the only means through which one, as a partisan, can protect or further vital interests and achieve a more satisfactory and harmonious just peace. For example, war against Hitler's Germany from 1939 to 1945 cost millions lives, but it prevented the greater misery, the terror, the executions, the cold-blooded murders which probably would have occurred had Hitler consolidated his control of Europe and subjugated the Soviet Union.

We always can end a conflict when we want by surrender. But some ideas are more important than peace: Dignity. Freedom. Security. That is, peace with justice--a just peace.

Peacemaking is not necessarily one's highest goal in a conflict, then. But the peacemaking principle and subprinciples ease this process. They help avoid pointless escalation and aggravating conflict interaction. They speed up the trial-and-error adjustment of opposing interests. And they help establish a more acceptable, more stable peace permitting incremental progress toward social justice.

There is another relevant qualification. The term "peacemaking" is well established, and I used it accordingly. Unfortunately, the verb "make" can imply that peace is designed and constructed, as a house is planned and erected brick by brick or a road engineered and built. This implication is especially seductive in this age when society is seen as manmade (rather than having evolved),9 and many believe that communities should be centrally planned and managed.

But peace is not constructed like a bridge. Peace emerges from the balancing of individual mental fields. What the leaders of a group or nation honestly believe, actually want, truly are willing to get, are really capable of achieving are unknown to others--and perhaps only partially to themselves. Nonetheless only they can best utilize the information available to them to justly satisfy their interests. For a third party to try to construct and enforce an abstract peace imposed on others is foolhardy. Such a peace would be uncertain, forestall the necessary trial-and-error balancing of the parties themselves, and perhaps even create greater conflict later. The best peace is an outcome of reciprocal adjustments among those involved. At most, peacemaking should ease the process.

A final qualification. Pacifists believe that violence and war cannot occur if people laid down their arms and refused to fight. But this ignores unilateral violence. Under threat, a state or government may try to avoid violence by submission. The result may be enslavement, systematic execution, and elimination of leaders and "undesirables." The resulting genocide and mass murder may ultimately end in more deaths than would have occurred had people fought to defend themselves.

I agree that in some situations nonviolence may be an effective strategy for waging conflict,10 as in the successful Black civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s in America; or the successful nonviolent, civil disobedience movement for Indian independence from Britain begun by Mahatma Gandhi in 1922. In some situations refusal to use violence may avoid unnecessary escalation and ease peacekeeping. However, there are also conflicts, especially involving actual or potential tyrants, despots, and other such oppressors, in which nonviolence cannot buy freedom from violence by others or a just resolution of a dispute. Then a down payment on such a peace requires public display of one's capability and a resolve to meet violent aggression in kind.


As a phase in the conflict helix,11 a status quo eventually ages and, overcome by change, dies as it entered this world--in conflict. Thus, the question: how to assure a status quo a long and healthy life, and how to minimize the burden of its inevitable passing.12 The Peacekeeping Principle underlies the answers:
Peace depends on keeping expectations and power aligned.
Its subprinciples are given in Table 10.2, and will be discussed in order.13

Table 10.2

10.2.1Start from the Existing Balance of Powers

Peacekeeping requires beginning with things as they are, not some past situation or some future hope. But this assumes knowing what is presently important for keeping the peace, which in turn requires understanding the nature and basis of peace. It will not help, and may even create conflict and violence, if peace is seen as the absence of any conflict behavior and peacekeeping viewed as avoiding any provocative, assertive, aggravating, contentious, antagonistic, or hostile behavior--in short, any behavior which may upset another. The first rule of peacekeeping is to understand peace. Such an understanding, I believe, is presented in these volumes. Peace is a structure of expectations, a social contract. It will be kept only as the parties, for whatever reason, find it in all their intersecting interests, capabilities, and wills to do so.

Moreover, peacekeeping must have in mind a specific peace--a particular structure of expectations--and a specific level of peace. Does one want to avoid intense, nonviolent conflict, violence, or just extreme violence, revolution, war? Different levels of peace are interrelated, and keeping peace at one level may require giving it up at another. Trying to avoid all conflict may restrict adjustment, increase pressure for radical change, and risk violence. Indeed, avoiding a war may entail a willingness to engage in limited violence.

In addition, expectations are interdependent. Social relations are a totality, a whole of overlapping and nested structures of expectations. Efforts to keep one kind of peace may spill over onto other kinds of peace, perhaps even creating conflict. For example, a government's desire to avoid an open clash with strikers may communicate weakness and encourage more and possibly even a general strike.

In any case, a specific peace depends on a balance of interests, capabilities, and wills. Relevant change in this balance will increase or decrease the likelihood of conflict. Is there a shift in interests relevant to the status quo expectations? Have relevant capabilities altered? Has will altered? For example, through diverse conflicts and crises during the period from 1945 to 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union developed a balance of powers and associated understandings and treaties that allowed them to coexist with a minimal danger of war. But for a number of reasons (such as the Vietnam war, generational turnover, fear of nuclear weapons, and a tactical Soviet emphasis on détente) the interests of American leaders gradually shifted from primarily opposing Soviet expansionism to avoiding nuclear war. American capability to confront the Soviet Union declined; the will to oppose communism weakened. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union continued to pursue her primary aim of a Soviet-led, global communist victory and has been massively increasing her military capability to support this goal. Much change therefore has occurred in the Soviet-American balance, leading to a much increased risk of Soviet-American war.14 To try to prevent this war means understanding the current balance and these changes. [Written in 1998: the Reagan Administration understood this and in the 1980s successfully rearmed, strengthen theater and strategic deterrence, displayed strong support for democracy and democracies, and showed the resolution to use force, if necessary. All this eventually caused Secretary Gorbachev of the Soviet Union to realize that they could not both compete with a restrengthened United States in arms and also deal with its own domestic economic deterioration, and for this and other reasons he set a new course in foreign and domestic policies that unintentionally and eventually lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.]

Not only the relevant but also the relative changes in the balance are important. Changes in what the parties want and can and will do may be offsetting. Or they may be moving in opposite directions, as for the United States and Soviet Union. [Written in 1998: from 1968 until the Reagan Administration, the United States had been unilaterally disarming,15 while the Soviet Union engaged in a rapid build-up. Thus, in relative terms, their disparity in military capability had been changing more rapidly than would be clear from looking at either's capability alone.]

10.2.2 Guard the Balance of Powers

A particular balance of powers is essential to its associated status quo and peace. This balance is a matter of what psychological relationships have developed between individuals or groups. Knowing or sensing this balance and its changes is one aspect of peacekeeping. Maintaining this balance is another. This requires keeping a relative balance among the relevant interests, capabilities, and wills. But this may be a temporary effort until any significant gap which has developed between the status quo and underlying powers can be reversed.

Keep in mind, however, that some changes may be just and the resulting conflict a worthwhile adjustment. I do not argue in the abstract for peacekeeping above all, or even peacekeeping as a major goal. It is only a means toward a just peace. Many interests must be satisfied. And the weight peacekeeping should be given against, for example, protecting or enhancing freedom, equality, or rights, depends on the situation. Nonetheless, guarding the balance of powers can help to anticipate and avoid undesirable conflict. And on this score the status quo challenger should be watched.

The status quo is the core of any peace. It defines rights and obligations--who gets what from whom.16 Now, a party may not like or want a particular status quo but may believe that the cost of changing it outweighs the gain. He is dissatisfied, waiting for a favorable shift in the balance of powers to challenge the status quo. Therefore, it is vital to recognize a status quo challenger (such as a revolutionary group or state) and to know the particular balance that maintains the status quo against him. Peace is then a matter of maintaining the relative strength of those who support the status quo.

This requires being alert to warning signals. Often one need not be a social scientist or seasoned observer to recognize that something is going wrong. The signs are all too familiar: increasing tension, hostility, unrest, insecurity. These are atmospherics whose precise source may be obscure and do not consist of any specific behavior. They usually reflect a growing gap between a balance of powers and a status quo; they tell us that a significant gap exists.

Rather than avoid or treat the tension or hostility, which are only effects, seek their source. What status quo is involved? What rights or obligations? Was there relative change in relevant interests? Have associated relative capabilities shifted? Is there still sufficient resolve to protect the status quo? Perhaps the new leadership of some state believes that they can now realize an historic national goal of extending the state's borders to the ocean. Or perhaps shifting populations and upward mobility have weakened the power base of a political machine, or perhaps change in relative military capability has emboldened a state to seek regional dominance.

10.2.3 Reduce Any Gap Between Expectations and Power

Three approaches can help reduce the risk of intense conflict resulting from a particular balance of powers becoming incongruent with a status quo. The first is to redress the balance of powers by making compensating changes in what one wants and can and will do. Second, one can negotiate incremental changes in status quo expectations. Treaties or contracts may be redrawn, understandings discussed and redefined, and practices altered. Indeed, diplomacy can be defined as the art of avoiding war by keeping international expectations in tune with the changing balance of powers among states.

Third, one can also adopt tacit changes in expectations. Negotiating changes in a status quo requires the agreement of all involved and is difficult to achieve in the absence of an action-demanding crises or violence. Sometimes, however, one can make gap-reducing, unilateral changes. And if the other party agrees by not opposing these changes or compensating for them, then an adjustment in expectations is accomplished.

10.2.4 Accept Some Conflict Now

Peace occurs along many dimensions and at many levels.17 Recognizing this complexity is required to understand why and how to use conflict, violence, and war to keep the peace. To fight something by deliberately introducing that which one wants to avoid certainly is paradoxical, at first thought; and initially, selective burning to control forest fires, inoculation to prevent disease, and herd-thinning to prevent mass starvation were not readily accepted concepts.

To maintain a higher peace may entail lower-level conflict in order to make needed readjustments of expectations and power. Such conflicts through time further a process of adaptation to change. This helps avoid that large gap between the balance of powers and status quo that requires an adjustment possible only through much more extreme conflict and violence. As previously noted,18 enabling such continual adjustments through nonviolent conflict is one of the values of the exchange society and libertarian political system--that is, of the just peace.

And a corollary is that it is often better to let conflict take its course, for parties to negotiate their own balance, than for a third party to impose an artificial peace simply in order to avoid conflict.

10.2.5 Reduce the Probability of Successful Violence

Successful violence breeds violence. It not only encourages its future use, but also motivates others to do likewise. This increases the general level of violence and ultimately even risks the gains of those who first used violence, as others may subsequently employ violence more effectively against them. Therefore, seek nonviolent alternatives.

However, I do not urge pacifism. Sometimes violent aggression must be met in kind to defend higher values than peace, or a higher peace. But violence may be also unnecessary and, indeed, counterproductive for a stable peace. I have already discussed under the peacemaking principles many nonviolent alternatives, such as separation and nonviolent resistance. However, while nonviolent alternatives may be desirable, do not allow the choice of such to reward the instigator of violence. If violence cannot be avoided without seeming to reward it, then meet violence by strong and swift counteraction, as any community must suppress the violence of criminals through police action when other means fail.

10.2.6 Conclusion

In sum, know and start from things as they are, not from ideals or hopes. Guard what balance of powers exists, and reduce any gap between expectations and power. But in order to do this, accept some conflict now. And do not reward violence. In all this peacekeeping is partly a matter of relation and proportion: that between the present and future, between various kinds of peace, and various levels of conflict.


We can make peace. And we can try to keep it. But to foster nonviolent peace is a primary goal. As illustrated in Figure 10.1, this means treating not a specific conflict and its resolution, but the ecology of peace: the general causes and conditions that produce and aggravate conflict and inhibit peace, peacekeeping, and peacemaking. Peacefostering means nurturing a healthy environment within which we can make incremental progress toward a just peace. It is encouraging the conflict helix.19 The principle is this:
Freeing adjustment to change fosters peace.
Change creates conflict, violence, and war. Specifically, change in interests, capabilities, and will produces a gap between a structure of expectations defining a status quo and an associated balance of powers.20 This gap is a measure of dissatisfaction with the prevailing understandings, rights, benefits, or obligations. It is a pressure toward change in expectations more in accord with what people want and can and will do.

The roots of peace lie in expectations and perceptions, in interests, and capabilities, in will. As more accommodation to change in these roots is facilitated through accepted procedures, needed adjustments are institutionalized, achieved compromises are imbedded in a larger framework of agreements, and required lower-level conflicts are free to modify expectations,. the more likely it is that a stable peace--especially a nonviolent peace--will develop.

This understanding is formalized in the Peacefostering Principle and six associated subprinciples in Table 10.3, to which I now turn.

Table 10.3

10.3.1 Expect Conflict as Normal

Essential to developing a more stable peace is appreciating that conflict is a normal process of communication and adjustment among human beings. It will inevitably occur in some form. Avoiding all conflict, unless one is a hermit or totally submissive to others, eventually creates more severe conflict. The aim is rather to minimize conflict's intensity and eliminate unwanted side effects. Therefore, anticipate conflict, prepare for it, and develop a disposition to compromise. This disposition will facilitate exchange and make adjustments more acceptable. Both parties will gain.

Part of this disposition is the attitude, "I want to find a middle ground." But a part is also an appreciation that others, like ourselves, seek through a subjective fog to understand the world, find dignity, enhance their esteem, and satisfy their needs. It is a realization of our fallibility and that truth, beauty, and justice are often a matter of our personal perspective. It is an understanding of what a just peace is about.

We are not inconsistent in believing ourselves right, acting on our beliefs, and being guided by our ethics, while realizing that we may be wrong. Belief in an absolute truth or justice that cannot be wrong has fueled some of the most violent upheavals in history. The change from "You are wrong!" to "You may be right" reduces the intensity of many a conflict. This does not mean that we should always compromise, suffer exploitation, or appease aggression or murderers. Nor should we split unreasonable demands down the middle. A disposition to compromise is simply a willingness to find common ground and a mutually beneficial exchange if the situation warrants.

10.3.2 Subject Recurring Issues to Fair Decision Rules

Some disputes will continually arise, as between minority ethnic regions and a central government, or among states concerning their common border. Since the disputes recur, there should be rules to help decide who gets or does what. Such rules require a number of characteristics.

The rules should be unbiased, as in settling minor issues by tossing a coin. They must define who, what, when, and where; that is, they should be as specific as possible to avoid new disputes over what the rules themselves mean. They should be known, well communicated to the parties, and clear. They must be consistently applied. Rules erratically used are worse than no rules, for they confuse, tend to aggravate a conflict situation, and themselves create conflicts over the rules. They must be credible. This means that the rules should seem workable; that the parties involved will follow them.

Additionally, any sanctions that back the rules should be realistic and clearly, consistently, and invariably applied to violators. It is especially important to assure that violations will be quickly known and, if appropriate, sanctioned.

But of even greater importance is rewarding adherence. Rules obeyed only for fear of the consequences of disobedience create a coercive order, and potentially a most violent one. Therefore, rules should be positive: the parties should follow them because they are sensible, right, and rewarding.

10.3.3 Institutionalize Adjustment Procedures

To institutionalize means more than just setting up an organization. It means developing norms (rules that are followed because they are felt to be right and proper, such as the norm of due process). It means establishing roles--authoritative positions with a responsibility for doing certain things (such as the role of mediator or conciliator). It means adopting particular procedures to be followed in making adjustments, as in collective bargaining. And, of course, it means creating organizations that embody these norms and roles and have the task of applying these procedures, such as a court, labor relations board, or international commission. Institutionalization should be guided by four considerations.

First, institutionalize consensus-building. This should be some means of finding or establishing common denominators among the diversity of interests involved. Perhaps this might be a process of consultation among all interested parties to a decision, a national referendum, or a multilateral commission among allies. However institutionalized, consensus-building helps avoid miscommunication, misperception, and misunderstanding, and gives groups and nations a feeling of having at least participated in a decision in which they may have some stake.

Second, institutionalize confrontation of perceptions, expectations, and interests. Conflict is a process of adjustment, which itself can be subject to procedures to contain and regularize conflict behavior and assure a fair outcome. A judicial system is such an institutionalization: the adversary relationship between defense and prosecution lawyers, the systematic presentation and questioning of evidence and witnesses in court, the intermediary role of the judge, and the verdict of a jury regulate confrontation and nonviolently resolve social conflict that could otherwise lead to violence. The formal debate is another type of institutionalized conflict and settlement over beliefs or ideas.

Third, institutionalize a test of strength. Capability and will are difficult to measure and assert in the abstract. There is much room for ambiguity and misjudgment. A function of conflict, seen clearly in violence, is to settle the question, "Whose capability is greater; whose will stronger; whose interests more focused?"

When interests in society become polarized and the stakes involve the most fundamental values, there is no institutionalized replacement for violence. This is and will remain the ultimate test of strength. However, even the process of fighting a war has, through the ages, developed rules and procedures, such as in declaring war, the protection of civilians, the role of neutrals, the immorality of certain weapons, and the treatment of prisoners of war.

As long as the values involved are not critical and interests are unpolarized, however, tests of strength can be institutionalized. The determination of who is more capable and resolute can be governed by procedures, overseen by a third party, and the winner certified in some manner. The conflict can be turned into a contest, like a football or baseball game, except that the outcome does not establish the better team but a new social contract.

To illustrate, strikes by workers against their bosses and the latter's attempts to suppress such strikes used to cause much social violence, many injuries and deaths. As a test of strength in the United States, the strike is now institutionalized within a process of collective bargaining governed by certain laws. Workers can still strike, but only after certain conditions required by law have been satisfied (such as a vote among union members). As a result, although more commonplace, a strike today is less violent and rarely upsets the community (except when major industries or services are involved).

Perhaps the most widely used and valuable decision-making procedure is the vote. It decides which alternative or candidate will win. But this should not obscure the test of strength involved. In social conflict, the number of supporters is a critical index of capability, and their willingness to articulate their support, fight on one's side, man the barricades, and suffer injury or death certainly measures their resolution. Voting simply enables social issues to be decided by counting supporters on each side to begin with, while bypassing the necessity to physically fight it out. It is an institutionalized test of strength: the ballot, not the bullet, determines who is stronger, which idea is "better."

Fourth, institutionalize settlement procedures. The outcome of a conflict is a decision, agreement, contract. The final determination of this outcome, aside from the confrontation and tests of strength involved, can itself be subject to procedures and institutionalized. Thus, establishing the right to vote on issues or competing candidates not only formalizes confrontation but also establishes a settlement procedure. Other institutionalized settlement procedures are mediation and conciliation, the jury system for deciding legal cases, and the Supreme Court for deciding disputes over the meaning and applicability of the law.

In the process of growth all societies naturally evolve institutions for peacefully rebalancing power. As the society becomes more complex in its division of labor, size, and diversity of groups, many different institutionalized adjustment procedures develop. The point here is not to review these, but to emphasize that peace can be furthered by being aware of such a capability, making use of what institutions exist, and adopting new institutions to recurring conflict situations. Peacefostering is partly a process of incrementally extending such institutions.

10.3.4 Promote Cross-Pressures

The institutionalization of conflict is most effective when interests are diverse and the issues nonvital. In a polarized society the formal routes for managing and deciding conflicts tend to break down, encouraging raw violence--the final arbiter--to take their place. Therefore, avoid this dangerous polarization by promoting cross-pressures. Facilitate the diversity of interests that naturally create a plurality of overlapping and autonomous groups and cross-cutting ties among groups and individuals. To do this enhance mobility. Free individuals to change status, job, residence; to socially or politically move up, down, or sideways; to cross any border, whether city, region, or state. High positions and great wealth, power (authority), or prestige should not be foreclosed by virtue of unchangeable characteristics (race, sex, family background, religion, or ethnic group). Thereby, advance pluralism, enhance an entangling web of cross-pressures.

10.3.5 Increase and Assure Freedom

I have already said much about the importance, function, and role of individual and group freedom in conflict and violence, peace, and justice.21 I will say more in Chapter 11. All that need be mentioned here is that the more individual and group socioeconomic and political freedom is increased, the more a nonviolent stable peace is promoted. At this point, peacefostering and the Just Package unite: nurturing peace is implementing a just peace.

10.3.6 Conclusion

The fundamental, underlying idea of peacefostering is to free adjustment to change. But a peace that is flexible enough to absorb and adjust to change and absorb shocks to expectations, particularly a status quo, is not made overnight. Nor is it designed and constructed like a building or a bridge. At most, one can provide facilitating conditions for individuals, groups, and states to make their own adjustments contextually and the rules and institutions to enhance this process. A durable peace will then likely flower of its own accord.

Finally, no reader should miss the basic relationship between fostering peace and a just peace as defined by the Just Package. To foster peace is to move toward a just peace; a just peace fosters nonviolent peace. The linkage between the two is freedom, which will itself be the subject of two final principles. I can now turn to these in Chapter 11.


* Scanned from Chapter 10 in R.J. Rummel, The Just Peace, 1981. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1. [Written in 1998: this book has recently been republished as The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices of Interpersonal, Social, and International Conflict and Cooperation.]

1a. In describing the principles and subprinciples of conflict resolution I could take the point of view of a third party (e.g., "The two parties should . . .") or of a participant or partisan in the conflict (e.g., "A party should . . ."). Moreover, I could write in the third person (as in the above examples) or second person (e.g., "You should . . ."). The simplest, most concise, and interesting approach is to write in the second person from the perspective of a participant (as in the following principle). This I will do generally, unless ambiguity is created. Throughout, what is said of one participant holds for all parties, and I trust the reader will have no difficulty translating to a third-party perspective, if they so desire

Also, none of this should be confused with third-partyism, or the belief that in applying principles of conflict resolution one should stand above conflicts and see them equally from the perspective of both parties. I do no accept this as a principle, for in some conflicts, as in an aggressor totalitarian state militarily conquering a weaker neighbor, or a revolutionary fascist movement trying to overthrow a democratic system, we should be partisans. Some conflicts occur because we have vital interests and a belief in social justice worth fighting for. Principles of conflict resolution then help only to reduce the heat and provide a more realistic and stable outcome.

2. The remainder of this chapter is an extensive revision of Chapters 26-28 of Rummel (1979a--[Written in 1998: this book has recently been republished as The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices of Interpersonal, Social, and International Conflict and Cooperation]).

3. While the Peacemaking Principle is obviously a derivative of my overall theory, for the subprinciples and their further discussion I have also drawn on a number of useful works on conflict resolution. The most important of these are Burton (1969), Deutsch (1973), Doob (1970), Fisher (1969), Lewin (1948), Miller (1968), Randle(1973), Sharp (1973), Smith (1974), and Young (1967).

4. See Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Part II).

5. Throughout this chapter I assume the parties to a conflict are groups or states. The pronouns therefore refer to such a collectivity with which the reader might identify, or the leaders or members of other such collectivities.

6. I am particularly indebted to Fisher (1969) for this idea.

7. This is one of Fisher's (1969) major approaches to conflict resolution.

8. See Section 7.2.1.

9. See Hayek (1973-1979: Vol. I, Part I).

10. See the excellent study by Sharp (1973).

11. See Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Chapter 29) and Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Chapter 18).

12. As to the inevitability of violence, see Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective (Section 9.3 of Chapter 9).

13. The Peacekeeping Principle is derived from previous volumes, but for some of its subprinciples I am partially indebted to a number of other authors, particularly Black and Falk (1971), Bloomfield and Leiss (1969, 1971), Hermann (1972), Nardin (1971), Osgood and Tucker (1967), Payne (1970), Ramsey (1968), Schelling (1963), Smoke (1977), Tucker (1960), and Wainhouse (1973).

14. I believe the threat of Soviet revolutionary global aims combined with her military power, which in 1980 surpassed the United States across the board, was then the critical problem of world politics, justice, and peace. I tried to analyze elsewhere this threat, drawing on the material in these volumes where relevant. For an early analysis of détente, which accurately warned of a Soviet military drive toward superiority and likely first-strike capability by 1981, see my Peace Endangered (1976a). I subsequently did a component analysis of U.S. and Soviet military time series, which clearly showed the accelerating Soviet military growth superimposed on a U.S. decline, the general inapplicability of arms race or action-reaction models, and the existence of an arms field. See my Dynamics of Power (1977a). This was followed by an analysis of Soviet intentions, "Soviet Strategy and Northeast Asia" (1978b), using pertinent empirical results in Volume 4. Then I drew systematically on the best-supported propositions of Volume 4 to assess The New Danger of Soviet-American War (1979), which showed that, given current trends, the danger of nuclear war was growing and during the 1980s would likely exceed that of the deepest years of the cold war (it was predictive of the subsequent crisis and change in mood toward a new cold war in late 1979 and 1980). 1 also compared the Soviet's military build-up with the militarization of Germany by Hitler before he invaded Poland in 1939, finding the Soviet military growth curve similar to Hitler's and the relative build-up far greater than his (1979d). Finally, I tried to quantitatively establish Soviet relative nuclear capability and, given a space of different scenarios, the economic and population costs from her perspective of a nuclear war with the United States. This study was entitled "Is Strategic Deterrence Collapsing?" (1980), and the answer was yes.

15. This may appear a simplistic statement, but I believe a careful analysis of the major indicators of military strength as well as the specific armed services and functions will support it. See my Peace Endangered (1976) and Dynamics of Power (1977).

16. See Section 2.3.1A.

17. See Section 2.3 and Section 2.4.

18. See Section 7.4.2.

19. While most of this section is based on previous volumes, a number of other works have been helpful or are especially relevant, notably Angell (1969), Burton (1962), Claude (1959, 1962), Deutsch et al. (1957), Falk and Mendlovitz (1966), Haas (1964), Hemleben (1972), Hoffman (1966), Melko (1973), Mitrany (1946), Nye (1971), Pickus (1970), and Russett (1967).

20. To avoid misunderstanding, I remind the reader that these general principles of conflict resolution are being focused here on status quo conflict. This is because a stable status quo is a precondition for incremental change toward a just peace.

21. See Section 7.4.2 and Section 8.2.

For citations see the Vol. 5: The Just Peace REFERENCES

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