The Three Main Negotiation Models Used In International Relations

By:me: Richard Pearlman

For: anyone who can put this to a non-violent solution of any problem

Thesis: Warrior, Intellectual, and Tribal are the main techniques of interacting with foreign cultures, although several others do exist in isolation. Some of them are actually quite fun.

First some perceptions which lead to the interpretation of anticipated actions below




  • here the chief rules supreme without any checks or balances

  • All negotiations must have chief's blessing and profit

  • Being confrontational is at the decision of the chief

  • The negotiating team can say anything, and as they have no power, it doesn't have to be anything but pleasant


  • Everything must be confrontational; that's why they are warriors

  • To win is to conquer

  • Fighting is more important than winning

  • A win-win situation could be interpreted as a loss

  • Loyalty to the loyalty group is supremely important: you may twist the truth or downright lie in defense of the group: the only reality is that of the group

  • Backing out of a confrontation is a real political problem

  • Questioning the basis for the loyalty group, such as religions but not limited to them, is not acceptable: don't be an intellectual if you want to get along

  • Compromise - what an interesting question - if you dare question

  • Wars are always wars of attrition. This limits the time of interaction with the foreign culture and requires a reset of cultural strata to pre-war order in the country where the fighting took place. Wars tend to do lots of destruction and social displacement.


  • Achieves success with a win-win situation without violence

  • Warriors don't like the above due to they don't even get to fight and prove they are important to their loyalty group

  • Easier to change position during negotiations as the goal is not to use the negotiations as another method of conquering

  • Warriors cannot win wars, possibly not even battles, without intellectuals; after all, who designed the war machines and techniques?

  • A much less expensive solution than fighting

  • Looking for more long-term interaction that involve security, trade, and countering detrimental dominance orders.

  • A "negotiating table" is not needed except to ratify cooperation

  • Negotiating takes place on a continuing basis

  • Warriors perceive that no negotiations take place as above and believe the parties are not "really" negotiating: it's quite outside their perceptions to actually cooperate with the other party. This would mean the people they are negotiating with are their equals in some way. Warriors need to kill enemies, not friends.

While watching a TV presentation featuring Joshua Kurlantzick discussing his latest book, "Charm Offensive",  I realized his conclusions were correct even without the philosophical structural underpinnings this paper presents. I did buy his book and again found his conclusions were correct.

Interestingly, when the discussion rolled around to American-Chinese international negotiations, the moderator had trouble understand any negotiations could exist outside of the American ideal of sitting down at a table and working out the issues. He just thought the Chinese didn't want to negotiate. thereupon I decided to write about the structure which explains Kurlantzick's observations.

Kurlantzick's title, "Charm Offensive" is an effort to translate what the Chinese are doing into western warrior terms. To a warrior being soft, or using "charm", means giving in to the other party. If you don't confront your opponent you are soft and not a true warrior. I'm not sure the Chinese even consider the thought of being either charming or soft. I would think the Chinese think they are just Chinese doing Chinese things.

I'm not going to include Tribal cultures here as they have little bearing on the Chinese-American relationship.

Kurlantzick is adamant that the Chinese method is far more effective in the modern world. In the colonial days, superior military ability was more important. In those days the world population was far smaller and communications very limited. And as Japan proved after WWII it's far cheaper to buy a county than conquer it. The U.S. would have solved any (even if made up) any problems in Iraq by using the money wasted on military operations to just buy the whole country, house by house. Kurlantzick makes a good case for the U.S. to copy China. Certainly, that is extremely difficult to a country filled with warriors needing to be "strong" while avoiding the "weak" soft relations.

If you need a book for understanding what works internationally, buy Kurlantzick's. I'm only concerned with negotiation models of the warriors and the intellectuals. Other discussions how the warrior/intellectual dichotomy affects other societal functions is available in my other papers.

True to life, negotiations, whether local of international, revolve around the perceptions of which of the groups you belong: Tribal, Warrior, or Intellectual. By "you" I mean a business, union, state, or country. Here we are looking at the underpinnings of why America views negotiating as a confrontational device and why China is not interested in being the opponent of the U.S.A.'s need to fight.

In spite of the U.S. Constitution's purpose of creating and protecting intellectual freedom, the U.S.'s outward international appearance is that of a warrior whose who essence is to confront and conquer everyone else. A concept which involves us being good and the others being evil. Basically inherited from Europe, the warrior perception of using cooperation to win is not only not understood, but, moreover, not allowed.

Winning, while the goal for both sides, isn't even the same conclusion: warriors need to continually fight to prove who they are, while the intellectual international relations need to enact and nurture cooperative, non-violent and profitable relationships. I guess you could say warriors like to spend money, intellectuals like to make money. If the warriors cannot conquer, there can be no agreement that indicates a lose. (Korea and Viet Nam negotiations). As long as warriors fight they consider themselves winners. Unless the fighting stops, intellectuals don't consider themselves winners.

The purpose of an intellectual approach to the negotiation table means an agreement of cooperation and let the future decide on the exact relationships, while the warriors want to solve all issues while sitting at a table and not getting up until all the issues are thrashed out.

The Chinese feel obligated to sit at the table feeling it is polite; they know the situation will not solve it self under "top-down", "remote solution", "a final agreement", "now everyone knows who they are" type of agreement. The Chinese know the importance of continual confrontation of the U.S.'s warrior approach, and they allow the U.S. to feel good they are doing something, like standing up to evil, which easily distracts the U.S. from real activity --such taking over international resources-- the U.S. was trying to prevent. Warriors are predictably unable to be polite.

"Time has come today" is mostly a concept for the warrior. The Chinese will wait for decades while years are a long time period for the U.S. warriors. Nevertheless, a warrior will keep up pretenses of negotiations as a sign they have not lost, although they actually have.

Let me say many Americans are intellectuals and would rather use the Chinese "soft" methods. On the other hand, warriors have dominated U.S. history as they were the major group to migrate to North America, whether voluntarily, via the involuntary European penal system, or due to climate or sociological changes. Because of this, our foreign relations are based on confrontation and conquering. Over the next several decades the intellectuals will manage the transition to the more "soft" interactions. Mostly due to the free spending of the warriors and lack of goals beyond fighting.

As a side note: our military, if allowed to fight without political interference is pretty much undefeatable. But not even the warriors sense the danger of that in a modern world where anyone can buy an AK-47 for a few dollars.

Western religions reinforce the warrior's need to confront and fight, as well as the ability to demonize the other party. Intellectuals find this a means of defeating negotiations, also preventing real win-win situations. A win-win situation could equate others' beliefs as equal to Christians. One of the main international tenants of Christianity interprets non-Christians as inferior and barbarians. Most Asians cultures perceive this attitude as barbaric. It's a shock to westerners to discover the Chinese, among others, are very good at the same things as the western societies. U.S. negotiators are not prepared for this equality.

In the end, intellectuals  need to conquer the warriors or else we are back to large wars where the warriors can be heroes. Fortunately, warriors need intellectuals to win wars. Otherwise the warriors would have killed all the intellectuals many years ago.

In any case, both sides are fairly predictable in what they are going to do. And, as I said, both sides will remain predictable in spite of knowing what they are doing.

I wish the best of luck all you who must deal directly with this cultural issue. I can only hope the structural philosophy present here helps you succeed. In case you don't, I study how to win wars.





I want to recommend a book I found on my shelf just after I wrote the above paper. This book makes even more sense in terms of Warriors and Intellectuals. Check out Chapters 3 and 4 and the parameters Acuff describes for American negotiators are exactly predicted by my structure.

This is sort of a more applied and hands-on than Joshua's book. They do agree on approach and desired result.

"How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone Anywhere Around the World" by Frank L. Acuff. See bibliogrpahy of search at your favorite bookstore. In print.