How should historical conflicts and territorial disputes be settled?

May 2019
217
Northern and Western hemispheres
For example Hawaii, The U.S.A. Civil War, The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Northern Ireland conflict, The Balkans Wars, The Falklands, and the mainland Chinese vs the Taiwanese. I know these are issues and subjects which tend to get folks worked up (which is understandable). Here we can hopefully discuss things here in a civil manner. If you were a mediator how would determine who was right and who was wrong and what belongs to whom?
 
Jun 2017
636
maine
If I were a mediator, I would neither determine right vs. wrong nor would I assign ownership of anything to anyone. A mediator is not a judge nor does s/he have the ability to impose a solution. A mediation won't work unless both sides agree and both sides take responsibility for implementation of that agreement. Business texts identify 5 steps (sometimes 6) but IMO it all can be boiled down to 2:
1. Identification of the problem. Ironically, this can be the most difficult because there is a great deal of blame and justification coming to the table.
2. Bargaining (or compromising or negotiation). In other words, this I can live with vs non-negotiables. It is the responsibility of the mediator to guide reasonableness.

Wars (and similar conflicts) generate hype and exaggerated claims. They suck up the emotions of nations and reassign them to a negative frenzy. It is necessary to step back from all this. If all disputes were one-sided, they wouldn't last so long.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Agreed with what ducanness wrote here and also I would like to point out that before any settlement actually occurs, deescalation has to occur. After all, if two sides are literally at war, it would be harder to negotiate peace than if it's going to be a frozen conflict.
 
May 2019
217
Northern and Western hemispheres
If I were a mediator, I would neither determine right vs. wrong nor would I assign ownership of anything to anyone. A mediator is not a judge nor does s/he have the ability to impose a solution. A mediation won't work unless both sides agree and both sides take responsibility for implementation of that agreement. Business texts identify 5 steps (sometimes 6) but IMO it all can be boiled down to 2:
1. Identification of the problem. Ironically, this can be the most difficult because there is a great deal of blame and justification coming to the table.
2. Bargaining (or compromising or negotiation). In other words, this I can live with vs non-negotiables. It is the responsibility of the mediator to guide reasonableness.

Wars (and similar conflicts) generate hype and exaggerated claims. They suck up the emotions of nations and reassign them to a negative frenzy. It is necessary to step back from all this. If all disputes were one-sided, they wouldn't last so long.
Great Post. I wasn't aware that a mediator was unable to impose a solution. I would add to that it would be a great idea to educate yourself and possibly any others regarding said conflict. I wouldn't want to go up to an Irish guy or a Scottsman with my limited knowledge and understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict or the Troubles and look like an ignoramus.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Great Post. I wasn't aware that a mediator was unable to impose a solution. I would add to that it would be a great idea to educate yourself and possibly any others regarding said conflict. I wouldn't want to go up to an Irish guy or a Scottsman with my limited knowledge and understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict or the Troubles and look like an ignoramus.
FWIW, a mediator actually can impose a solution if they're strong enough. For instance, Nazi Germany did just this in regards to the Transylvanian dispute in 1940. However, a settlement that is reached by force might be less likely to stick--especially if the political balance of power is subsequently going to change. This happened in regards to Transylvania in real life when, after WWII, Stalin returned northern Transylvania to Romania. The reason that Hungary was unable to subsequently undo this move was because it was simply nowhere near strong enough for it to actually pull this off. Of course, it also helped that more Romanians moved into Transylvania in the post-WWII years and decades.

A settlement that is reached by mutual agreement, on the other hand, might be more likely to stick. For instance, even Hitler never actually challenged the German-Danish border that was drawn after the end of WWI as a result of a couple of plebiscites--and this was in spite of him conquering Denmark! (This conquest was not related to the border issue but instead occurred because the Nazis felt like they had to get to Norway.)
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,785
Dispargum
Perhaps a mediator can't or shouldn't impose a solution but an arbitrator might.

I would also commit Historum heresy and add that history probably isn't helpful at resolving these types of disputes. Self determination is the current principle in vogue and it's based on the will of the people who live there now, not on anything that happened in the past. The past is usually impossible to undo anyway. Solutions have to deal with the here and now, not the past.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Perhaps a mediator can't or shouldn't impose a solution but an arbitrator might.

I would also commit Historum heresy and add that history probably isn't helpful at resolving these types of disputes. Self determination is the current principle in vogue and it's based on the will of the people who live there now, not on anything that happened in the past. The past is usually impossible to undo anyway. Solutions have to deal with the here and now, not the past.
Yes, national self-determination has certainly been a huge concept in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. For instance, the independence movements in the Americas, the unifications of Italy and Germany, the post-WWI territorial changes in Europe and the Middle East, decolonization, the breakup of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, et cetera.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
This is actually why settler colonialism could be a good way to strengthen one's claim to a particular territory. For instance, millions of Poles moved into northern and western Poland in the post-WWII years and decades and thus Poland was able to gain a much stronger claim to this territory--especially considering that this territory's German population either fled or was expelled after WWII. These demographic changes were so significant that by 1990 Germany itself acknowledged that it was hopeless for it to ever undo this post-WWII territorial change.
 
Jun 2017
636
maine
I would also commit Historum heresy and add that history probably isn't helpful at resolving these types of disputes. Self determination is the current principle in vogue and it's based on the will of the people who live there now, not on anything that happened in the past. The past is usually impossible to undo anyway. Solutions have to deal with the here and now, not the past.
Agree. Heresy or not, history isn't a guide to the past but an sign for the future. Striving to put back Humpty Dumpty won't work--but history can stand as a mentor of what not to do.
 
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