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.

Power Mixes in the Nicaraguan War

Paul Wehr

The civil war in Nicaragua in the 1980s illustrates the way opposing sides can shift away from threat-heavy power mixes to more balanced ones (Wehr and Nepstad 1994). The Sandinista government was in conflict with both US-supported Contra forces in the North and South and Atlantic Coast indigenous groups in the East. From mid-decade on, these opponents were increasingly persuaded by diplomats and changing regional and global contexts to alter their strategy mixes toward cooperative resolution. Initially, those mixes on all sides were heavy with threat and violent force. Then, cease-fires were arranged and exchange behavior increased, with violent sanctions in the threat sector increasingly replaced with nonviolent ones. Integrative behavior expanded as negotiated agreements were implemented. Regional autonomy and subsequent reconciliation was worked out with the Atlantic Coast peoples. National elections were agreed to and resulted in 1990 in a peaceful transfer of power and a subsequent uneasy mutual tolerance among former adversaries.

A moderating shift in participants' power mixes occurs largely in response to the political context of the conflict. Some aspects of that context within Nicaragua itself were especially influential: the important role of religious organizations; the moderating influence of women in the Sandinista revolution. Changes in the global political context were also important; the Cold War was winding down, thus reducing the U.S.-Soviet military confrontation in Central America. Perhaps most important, was the changing Central American context; regional leaders had created the Esquipulas process and structure for resolving civil wars throughout the region. Opposing sides in Nicaragua used Esquipulas to expand their exchange and integration interaction with one another.

Supporting literature: Paul Wehr and Sharon Erikson Nepstad, "Violence, Nonviolence and Justice in Sandinista Nicaragua," in Wehr, Burgess and Burgess eds., Justice Without Violence Boulder CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994, 81-98.

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