date : 14-10-05 23:05
Man-to-man chat can avert disaster
 name : historyngo
counter : 2,993  

“The following letter appeared in the
 Financial Times last Wednesday (10 September 2014, page 8).”

Man-to-man chat can avert disaster

From Prof Dennis JD Sandole


Sir, History is prologue. After reading Geoff Dyer’s dire assessment of the Ukraine crisis (“Obama faces dilemma as Putin holds all the cards”, September 5), it is difficult to avoid recalling that, 100 years ago, the monarchs, statesmen and generals of Europe blundered into a catastrophic war that no one wanted.


The similarities between now and then are striking: Alliance commitments (Nato’s Article 5-based “all for one and one for all” collective defence guarantee); a nearly deterministic action-reaction escalatory dynamic that renders rational human agency all but inoperable, and the impact of threat-based stress on the complex relationship between the limbic (emotional) and neocortical (thinking) parts of the human brain that, at some critical tipping point, allows the emotional to trump the rational.

Revisiting the Great War can be instructive here. What did the protagonists, including the three royal cousins – King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II – not do then that may have staved off the outbreak of war in August 1914? They never met face-to-face to attempt to defuse tensions. Neither have US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A heart-to-heart, man-to-man dialogue, in which Mr Obama presents Mr Putin with an offer he cannot refuse, may remain the only way now to arrest the trajectory towards another major European conflagration.


Dennis JD Sandole, Professor of Conflict Resolution and International Relations, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Arlington, VA, US


Source: Final Times