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“How Trump Gives Negotiation A Bad Name”: Perpetuating Myths That Social Science And Common Sense Have Long Buried

During the 1950s, the U.S. was trying to gain access to Mexico’s oil and natural gas reserves. Realizing that their counterpart desperately needed their technology, industrial know-how and investment capital, the U.S. opened the negotiation with a very low offer. That offer was considered so insulting that the Mexican government started to burn off its oil and natural gas rather than provide the U.S. access to its fields.

This should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks Donald Trump can improve America’s standing in the world through ultra-aggressive negotiating techniques.

In his campaign to win the Republican nomination, Trump has repeatedly touted his business acumen and negotiation skills as qualities that make him uniquely suited to be the next president.

“Right now,” Trump explained to Breitbart News, “we have the wrong group of negotiators who have led us to being totally out-negotiated.”

Trump’s preferred negotiation style—at least as a rhetorical trope—is one of power, toughness, and dominance. For him, an effective negotiator is someone adept at hardball tactics, forceful arguments, ultimatums, walkouts, threats, public blustering, and table pounding.

This rhetoric assumes that negotiations are inherently a zero-sum game. And, while such an adversarial and power-based approach makes sense within a Machiavellian worldview, it goes against decades of research into the art and science of negotiation.

On Iran, for example, Trump said on numerous occasions that he would make his positions known and walk away from the deal if his counterpart did not comply. If that approach failed, he would double up on sanctions until the Iranians returned and submitted to his demands. He would conclude the Iran deal, he boasted, within a week.

A President Trump, he likewise insists, would somehow compel the Mexican government to finance a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Yet research shows that a solely competitive approach to negotiation—Trump’s preferred style—often leads to stalemates, less than optimal or satisfying solutions, damaged relationships, low levels of trust, feelings of resentment, desire for vengeance, and sometimes even violence.

In contrast, a cooperative approach to negotiation—one that perceives the conflict as a shared problem to be solved—often leads to more creative and mutually satisfying outcomes, preserved or improved relationships, higher levels of trust, and increased self-esteem.

According to Joshua N. Weiss, a negotiation expert and co-founder of the Global Negotiation Initiative at Harvard University, in recent years there has been “a very noticeable shift from a strictly competitive hardball approach to negotiation to a much more collaborative one. This is because companies understand if they burn bridges when they negotiate they lose customers in the process. More importantly, their reputation suffers dramatically. As a result, other companies hesitate, or worse, refuse to work with them.”

Indeed, studies do support the assertion that selfishness tends to backfire in negotiation. In one particular experiment one group of negotiators was assigned very greedy goals, while another group was given more moderate ones. In some instances, the greedy negotiators got more than the moderate ones, however, not without incurring significant costs: their negotiation partners ended up resenting them.

Not surprisingly, when the greedy negotiators’ counterparts were presented with another opportunity to negotiate, they acted defensively, drove hard bargains, exacted revenge, and in some instances failed to reach a deal.

In another study, with over 200 negotiators, half of which were experts and half inexperienced, researchers told some of the novices that their counterparts were avaricious sharks. This was untrue. But reputation was of consequence. Those labeled sharks did badly in the negotiation: talks deteriorated, and outcomes, when they were reached, often failed to satisfy.

Trump speaks as if he is perpetually haggling in a mythical bazaar. Yet in the complex and interdependent world of international relations, thinking long-term and cultivating relationships matter.

“As a negotiator, Trump is more about achieving his short-term interests without regard for the other party or any inclination that he wants a long-term relationship,” explains Beth Fisher-Yoshida, director of the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University.

“If a party loses badly and publicly,” she continues, “there is a sense of shame or embarrassment that will not bode well for the future. The other party suffered humiliation and depending on the party’s cultural orientation, will do something to right the offense. The next round will be even more challenging because it will not only be about the subject being negotiated, but also personal revenge and retaliation.”

People—no matter what station they hold in life—care about being treated with fairness and respect. They want to be heard, acknowledged, and have their identity protected. When this does not happen, when people feel they are being disrespected, ignored or mistreated they can behave in ways that make little rational or economic sense.

It’s very possible that there is a gap between how Trump talks and how he (or those whom he employs) behaves around the proverbial negotiation table. After all, even in his own book on the Art of the Deal, Trump advertises the virtues of being cooperative, accountable and positive.

However, his negotiation rhetoric leaves a lot to be desired and is dangerously perpetuating myths that social science and common sense have long buried.


By: Roi-Yehuda, The daily Beast, August 12, 2015

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Negotiations | , , , , | 1 Comment

“The EPA Messed Up The Animas River”: But The Real Threats Are Still Private Industry And The GOP

The American Southwest suffered a serious environmental crisis last week, after an Environmental Protection Agency effort to clean up old mining waste went disastrously awry, breaching a containment dam and releasing millions of gallons of contaminated water into the Animas River. The city of Durango and San Juan County in Colorado, as well as the Navajo Nation (the largest Native American reservation in the U.S.), have declared a state of emergency, instructing their citizens to stay out of the water and avoid using it for agriculture or drinking for the time being.

It’s a giant screw-up by the EPA, which is scrambling to fix the problem. Yet it’s one that could not have happened without a monstrous failure of private industry, which means it bears directly on the 2016 presidential race, in which environmental issues will play an important role. The Animas River debacle shows that Republican dogma — which says that pollution is basically no problem and that the EPA should be sharply restricted, if not abolished altogether — is tantamount to a pro-poisoning position.

Mining has long been a fixture of the Mountain West, but it has slowed considerably from the go-go days of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of that was hardrock mining of gold and silver, which require very dangerous chemicals and the processing of thousands of tons of ore. Colorado is thus littered with thousands of abandoned mines, and the Animas watershed was no exception, with 400 old mines.

This is a problem, because the mountain mines inevitably fill with water that has leached through the rock, carrying heavy metals and other toxins with it. Cleaning this up is very expensive, and mine companies would obviously prefer not to do it. Early mine investors were notorious for setting up a shell mining company, extracting the material while paying their executive class a fantastic salary, setting up a token cleanup operation (or forgoing it altogether), then declaring bankruptcy and starting all over again.

That’s the profitable, job-creating businessman’s solution to mining waste: just poison the neighborhood, then skedaddle. Hey presto, someone else’s problem!

However, as regulations became more stringent (especially thanks to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts), things changed. In general, companies (like Anaconda Copper) now work with the EPA and local communities to clean up old sites, often at great expense.

It was one of those old pools of mining waste — around Silverton, Colorado — that the EPA was testing when it accidentally breached a containment dam and released the water. It’s been a big problem for years; the EPA and the mine company have pushed for Superfund designation (which would have made more money available for cleanup), while locals have resisted, fearing for their property values.

Again, clearly the EPA is at fault here. But it’s also worth noting that this spill is relatively minor compared to previous similar incidents, and that the dam would have likely burst on its own eventually. The question is what to do about it. Left to its own devices, it’s quite obvious what private industry would do: nothing. When it comes to environmental externalities, there is simply no alternative to some kind of government policy. And since the waste is already in place, there is no way to set up a Pigovian tax scheme that would deter such waste in the first place. It’s the EPA or bust.

Nevertheless, bust is basically the Republican position. At every turn during the Obama years, they have advocated for fewer environmental controls, greater freedom for corporations to pollute the environment, a cut in EPA funding, and attacks on the science that makes the regulations possible. During the 2012 campaign, the EPA’s “job killing regulations” became something of a Republican catechism. These days, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wants to abolish the agency altogether, while Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chair of the Senate’s environment committee, has merely compared it to the Gestapo.

Ironically, new rules stemming from the Clean Water Act have been the subject of particular conservative ire of late. A minor update in a rule interpreting the Clean Water Act sparked furious Republican outrage, as well as a proposal to abolish the rule that would make it dramatically harder to regulate American rivers and streams.

On pollution, the magic of the free market is supposed to be what takes the place of sclerotic EPA bureaucracy. You only have to look back to the Gilded Age to see what a farcical idea that is. The Republican utopia is one where cities suffocate under a cloud of choking smog; where the hearts of American children pump lead-clouded blood; and where drinking water will be sacrificed to pad corporate profits.


By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, August 12, 2015

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Animas River, Environmental Protection Agency, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Speaking To Our Anxieties”: The Pissed-Off Primary; Bernie Sanders Vs. Donald Trump

Apart from surprising popularity, weird hair, and zero chance at actually becoming president, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders could hardly seem more different. One’s a socialist-hating billionaire and the other is a billionaire-hating socialist, right? Yet there they are, delivering boffo poll numbers long after everyone in the smart set had written them off as flashes in the pan.

Perhaps, like Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, they’re not so different after all. Indeed, the unanticipated appeal of Trump and Sanders to Republican and Democratic primary voters comes from the same psychological wellspring. They represent, in the words of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Salena Zito, “populism born of frustration.” They are angry candidates, bitching and moaning about the sorry shape of the United States and they are unabashedly protectionist. Each identifies immigrants and overseas competition as the root cause of most if not all of our problems. They both believe that if only we can wall off the country—literally in The Donald’s case and figuratively in Sanders’—we could “Make America Great Again!” (as Trump puts it in his campaign slogan).

Trump notoriously looks at Mexicans sneaking across the border and sees crime lords, drug dealers, and rapists, though he has magnamiously granted that “some, I assume, are good people.” Sanders, for his part, looks at the same hard cases and sees a reserve army of future wages slaves for the Koch brothers.

In an interview with Vox, Sanders was asked what he thought about increasing immigration in order to help poor foreigners increase their standard of living. “That’s a Koch brothers proposal,” he huffed, “That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States.” So much for the internationalism and universal brotherhood on which socialism once prided itself.

Being anti-immigrant isn’t a new position for Sanders. As Politico noted earlier this year, Sanders’s loyalty to the AFL-CIO and other labor unions undergirds his consistent opposition to opening up borders and his contempt for free-trade agreements.

In regularly complaining about China, Sanders sounds just like…Donald Trump. Riffing in post-industrial Michigan on August 11, Trump noted China’s currency devaluation and announced, “Devalue means, suck the blood out of the United States!

For good measure, Trump also attacked Sanders as a weakling even as he saluted him as a brother in spirit. Commenting on how the Vermont senator lost the microphone to Black Lives Matter activist at a recent event in Seattle, Trump said, “I felt badly for him, but it showed that he was weak. You know what? He’s getting the biggest crowds, and we’re getting the biggest crowds. We’re the ones getting the crowds.”

Indeed, they are. Even after gracelessly implying Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly suffered from PMS during the first Republican candidates’ debate, Trump leads among GOP voters with 23 percent and Sanders has “surged” ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire polls.

Despite this, there’s no chance either will win his party’s nomination, much less become president. As Jack Shafer has noted, they are less candidates and more demagogues, who trade in “anger and resentment to attract supporters.” Such intensity can get you a hard-core band of supporters—just ask George Wallace or Ross Perot—but it also ultimately limits the broad-based support necessary to pull enough votes even in hotly contested three-way elections.

Which isn’t to say that Trump and Sanders haven’t already had a major impact. In the early stages of the campaign, they are tapping into immense voter dissatisfaction with not just the Republican and Democratic Party establishments but a 21st-century status quo that is in many ways genuinely depressing and disappointing. Trump and Sanders offer seemingly authentic responses to and truly simplistic solutions for what ails us. Close the borders! Fuck the Chinese!

What’s most worrisome is that other candidates who are more likely to actually succeed in 2016 will try to win over Trump’s or Sanders’s supporters by co-opting their Fortress America mentality. All of the GOP contenders except Jeb Bush have called for some type of impenetrable border with Mexico as a precondition for discussing any changes in immigration numbers. By and large, they have also signed on to mandatory use of E-Verify, a national database that would effectively turn work into a government-granted privilege while increasing the reach of the surveillance state.

Though she pushed for President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal while secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has flip-flopped and now is a critic of the deal. If Sanders continues to eat her lunch or even nibble around its edges through the end of the year, look for her to rethink her generally positive position on immigration too.

Trump’s and Sanders’s appeal isn’t hard to dope out.Twice as many of us—60 percent—think the country is headed in the wrong direction as think it’s going in the right direction. Trust in government has been skidding since the 1960s and the general loss of faith has accelerated since the 9/11 attacks. Trump and Sanders speak to our anxieties with a mix of shouty slogans, moral certitude, and magical policies on everything from health care to the minimum wage to ISIS.

In the current moment, it’s the billionaire and the socialist who feel our pain. But if their Republican and Democratic opponents adopt their xenophobia and protectionist ideas, they will have helped increase our pain long after they’ve inevitability sunk in the polls.


By: Nick Gillespie, The Daily Beast, August 13, 2015

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Immigration | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Rubio Reminds Voters”: Fertilized Human Eggs Don’t Become Cats

Hillary Clinton fielded some questions from campaign reporters yesterday, and not surprisingly, she was asked about Donald Trump. But the Democratic frontrunner clearly had a different group of Republicans on her mind.

“I think if we focus on [Trump’s antics], we’re making a mistake,” she said. “What a lot of the men on that stage in that debate said was offensive.” Highlighting Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) recent comments on prohibiting all abortions, regardless of circumstances, Clinton added, “[T]he language [Trump uses] may be more colorful and more offensive, but the thinking, the attitude toward women, is very much the same.”

She went on to say. ‘What Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage.”

It’s an important point. Rubio has now argued, more than once, that if a woman is impregnated by a rapist, the government has the authority to force her to take the pregnancy to term, regardless of her wishes. For Clinton, this matters every bit as much – if not more – than Trump’s ugly remarks about Fox’s Megyn Kelly.

For his part, Rubio seems to think he has a winner on his hands. Yesterday, the far-right Floridian, using social media and his campaign website, even launched a new initiative, alongside a big picture of a cat:

“Watch this video and sign this petition if you know that a human life won’t become a donkey or a cat.”

Yes, Marco Rubio, who last week seemed to adopt the posture of some kind of wonk, is now pushing a bold, new campaign message: fertilized human eggs don’t develop into cats.

As for the video Rubio is eager for the public to see, Slate’s Amanda Marcotte has the backstory:

When Rubio appeared on CNN after Thursday night’s Republican debate, he kept insisting that this vague entity called “science” has declared that human life begins at conception. (Actual biologists, for what it’s worth, argue that life is continuous and that a fertilized egg is no more or less alive than a sperm or an unfertilized egg.) CNN host Chris Cuomo vainly tried to point out that “science” says no such thing, and Rubio got a little excited.

“Let me interrupt you. Science has – absolutely it has. Science has decided… Science has concluded that – absolutely it has. What else can it be?” he asked. Then Rubio reared up for what he clearly intended as his wowza line: “It cannot turn into an animal. It can’t turn into a donkey. The only thing that that can become is a human being.”

Rubio, clearly pleased with himself, added, “[If scientists] can’t say it will be human life, what does it become, then? Could it become a cat?”

When Rubio’s website says “watch this video,” it shows the interview in its entirety.

Just so we’re clear, not even the most ardent pro-choice advocates believe fertilized human eggs could become a cat. They do believe, however, that there’s a difference between people and fertilized human eggs that might someday become people – in much the same way we differentiate between acorns and trees. What something is and what something may become under the right conditions are not identical.

Nevertheless, the far-right Floridian seems quite excited about his argument. He’ll have to hope it’s persuasive to a broad audience – Rubio’s no-abortions/no-exceptions position is further to the right than any Republican presidential nominee in the modern era.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 11, 2015

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Reproductive Choice, Women's Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Forgetting A Little Detail Called… His Brother”: Jeb Bush Is Even Nuttier Than Trump Now

Donald Trump’s remarks about Megyn Kelly still make him the most vulgar of the Republican presidential candidates.

But he is no longer the nuttiest.

That distinction was claimed by Jeb Bush in a speech at the Reagan Library, when he declared that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are to blame for the rise of ISIS.

Jeb being the brother of the guy who used 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq in the first place, a venture that then-Senator Barack Obama opposed.

Six weeks after the opening “shock and awe” bombardment, President George Bush declared in a speech from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln that the “major combat operations” in Iraq had ended in victory.

“Mission Accomplished,” read the big banner in the background.

Thousands of deaths later, the war was still raging and proving to be unwinnable.

In 2008, President Bush signed what was officially called an “Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq.”

The agreement required us to withdraw our troops from Iraqi cities by June of 2009 and from the country altogether by December 31, 2011.

The schedule was already set in place when Obama took office in 2009. That included the 2009 closing of our biggest POW facility, Camp Bucca. The prisoners who were released from Bucca included Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

As has been reported in The Daily Beast, al-Baghdadi uttered some parting words to the camp’s commander.

“He said, ‘I’ll see you guys in New York,’” Army Colonel Kenneth King recalls.

Al-Baghdadi went on to become the head of ISIS and to announce the creation of a new Islamic State.

Obama did try to renegotiate the so-called “SOFA agreement” in order to allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq past 2011, but he could not get the deal he wanted. Critics say he could have taken a more aggressive stance in the years after 2011, when the descendants of al Qaeda in Iraq began a murderous comeback.

But, of course, al Qaeda in Iraq would not have been a force of any consequence if President Bush had not smashed the Iraqi state in 2003.

In the meantime, we spent billions training Iraqi government troops who fled seemingly whenever they were attacked, leaving behind billions more in U.S. supplied equipment.

None of that was Obama’s creation.

All of it was a consequence of what President Bush so rashly set in motion.

And now his brother Jeb is trying to pin it on Obama as a way of going after Hillary Clinton. Talk about nutty. Not to mention offensive.

Trump is supposed to be the nutty and offensive one, but when it comes to ISIS he seems mainly to be woefully uninformed.

“Believe it or not, Iran is funneling money to ISIS,” Trump said on CNN.

Jeb could no doubt tell you that Iran is in fact battling ISIS by proxy and, in some instances, directly.

Something other than ignorance is at work when Jeb tries to pin the ISIS mess on Obama and Hillary.

Yes, as senator, Hillary did vote in favor of invading Iraq. And yes, as Secretary of State, she failed to make Iraq a top priority. (Though she did push Obama to keep American troops in Iraq after 2011.)

But she can hardly be faulted for what was all but sure to follow when Jeb’s brother gave the orders to invade Iraq.

And Obama is even less at fault.

Jeb is only able to claim otherwise because the people who truly are to blame have never been held accountable.

That includes not just Jeb’s brother but also former Vice President Dick Cheney, who promises to be even nuttier than Jeb when he makes an appearance of his own at the Reagan Library on September 9, two days before the 14th anniversary of 9/11.

Cheney and his daughter, Liz, will be there to sign copies of their new book, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America. The library’s website says, “Dick and Liz Cheney explain the unique and indispensable nature of American power, reveal the damage done by President Obama’s abandonment of this principle, and show how America can and must lead again.”

Never mind that between the war in Iraq, the loss of focus on Afghanistan and the CIA torture scandal, the elder Cheney probably did more to weaken America than any other single individual in recent history.

The website goes on, “The Cheneys do what no one before them has done: chart a path forward to restoring American power and strength, explaining what must be done to reverse course, to fight and win the war on terror, to rebuild our military and reassure our allies that they can once again rely on American leadership.”

Neither parody nor irony seem intended as the website concludes, “A critical, frank, and much-needed touchstone, Exceptional should stand as a guiding principle for the potential presidential candidates in 2016—and for policymakers today and beyond.”

Talk about beyond nuts.

Perhaps if some of the other candidates do use Cheney’s book as a guiding principle, they too can prove to be even nuttier than Trump, who seems unlikely to read a book or anything else.

All anybody who wants to sound wackier than The Donald need do is begin a sentence with, “Well, Dick Cheney says…”

Meanwhile, Trump remains not just the most vulgar of the candidates, but also the front-runner.


By: Michael Daly, The Daily Beast, August 12, 2015

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Iraq War, ISIS, Status of Forces Agreement | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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