OTPIC Officially Retired
As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.
The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.
International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA
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Parties in conflict, especially parties with considerable power, tend to assume that they can prevail quickly and easily by using threats and/or force. They assume that the opposing party will simply submit and the problem will be resolved. Unfortunately, the use of force is seldom this simple. Since people hate to be forced to do things against their will, the threatened party will usually resist if they can. If the party that initiates the force does not first consider the likely response of their opponent, they can easily be faced with defeat instead of victory.
Even if the target group submits to the threat or use of force, they are likely to become resentful, and will work to build up their power so they can resist or challenge their opponents at a later time. This is what we refer to as the "backlash effect"--the tendency of the victim to turn against the threatening party covertly, or later when their power is stronger. This resentment and resulting backlash is likely to be especially strong when it is felt that the force is being used in illegitimate or immoral ways. While the threatened party may do what is required of them over the short term, they are likely to initiate an intense search for effective resistance strategies. In some cases they may pretend that they are submitting to the demands of the threatening party, while in reality they are employing a clever deceptive strategy which allows them to do most of what they want to do anyway, while simply appearing to comply with their opponents' demands. .
The backlash effect can also lead the threatened party to pursue a long-term effort to expand its power base to the point where it can make a credible counterthreats. This can lead to a protracted judicial, political, or military, or even an all-out, highly destructive confrontation. Even without such confrontations, backlash can lead to costly and rapidly escalating arms races, in which both sides devote an ever-greater proportion of their resources to a desperate effort to make sure that they have the power needed to defend themselves or at least deter the threatening actions of opponents. In all of these situations, the result is continuing conflict and not resolution.
Short-Term and Long-Term Conflicts
Illegitimate Uses of Force
Legitimizing the Use of Force
Potential Threat/Force Reactions
Deterrence, Counter-Threats (and Arms Races)
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