The Uncertainty Of A Ripe Moment

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Rather than being defined by its circumstances, the most important element of the ripe moment is a change in perception and a willingness to shift the situation away from conflict. In fact, the importance of perception in a ripe moment is sometimes underestimated. The focus on the existing conditions and the specifics of the conflict obscure the fact that no situation will be ripe until the participants perceive that it is. While this is more complex than focusing solely on the conditions of a conflict in search of a ripe moment, even Zartman (2001, p. 9) states, ‘Ripeness is necessarily a perceptual event’ and ‘The moment is propitious for negotiation when both sides perceive that they may be better off with an agreement than without one’…show more content…
Clearly this ripe moment is less about military wins and losses and specific casualty counts than about multiple types of perception – the perception that the military regime has of its image abroad as well as the perception that foreign states have of its legitimacy.
Indeed, even Zartman (2001) identifies both subjective and objective elements that contribute to the recognition of a ripe moment. However, the objective examples he suggests, including casualty numbers and other data, may be objective in themselves, but when applied to a conflict situation, there is no objective threshold for how many casualties are required for a conflict to become ripe, or how data may be properly used to identify a ripe moment. Therefore even the ‘objective’ criteria must rely on subjective perceptions. Salla (1997, p. 451) wrestles with this point as well when he applies the concept of the mutually hurting stalemate to the conflict in East Timor. He asks: ‘What, however, is the correct mix of “objective” and “subjective” conditions that make up the “ripe moment” and leads to perceptions of a “mutually hurting stalemate”?’
With the understanding that inter-group and even intra-state conflicts are at their core interpersonal conflicts writ large, we can turn to the work done by Coleman (1997, p. 81) in applying the ripeness concept at the interpersonal level. Coleman contends that the motivation of
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