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.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Neglecting Costs and Risks of Using Force

(Best Case Planning)

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When developing a strategy for dealing with conflict situations, people often make the assumption that their strategy will work as planned. They often fail to consider all of the things that could go wrong and the likelihood that unwanted and unexpected outcomes will produce undesirable results.  This failure to consider the risks associated with alternative conflict strategies often leads people to repeatedly and unnecessarily expose themselves to undesirable and potentially catastrophic outcomes. This "best case planning" is especially dangerous in situations where the potential for all-out violence exists. For example, parties who launch a military attack may find that they under-estimated their opponents' defenses and that the result will be defeat, and not victory. The same thing could happen to parties who abandon negotiation in hopes of winning everything that they want in an election or court case.   


Links to Examples:

Dean Peachy -- Thoughts on the Failure of Negotiations in the Gulf
Poor estimates on both sides of the costs and risk of force were apparent in this case.
Claude Rakisits -- The Gulf Crisis: Failure of Preventive Diplomacy
This is another discussion of the Gulf War in which errors were made on both sides regarding assessing the costs and risks of force.
Chester Crocker -- Lessons on Intervention
Crocker discusses when and when not to intervene stressing the importance of measuring the costs and risks, as well as the benefits of using force to respond to conflict situations.
Donald Bossart - Rhodesia to Zimbabwe: Lessons for Mediators
This article illustrates how inaccurate parties' perceptions can be regarding the effectiveness (or ease) of using force to obtain one's interests and needs.
Robin Crews - Nonviolent Peacekeeping: The Only Alternative
In this presentation, Crews argues that violence cannot solve intergroup conflicts, that nonviolent approaches are the only options that stand to succeed

Links to Possible Treatments for this Problem:


Links to Related Problems:

Misunderstanding the Relationship Between Threat and Force

Failure to Anticipate Opponent Reactions and the Backlash Effect

Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu