From 1998 till 1997, the negotiations between the US, UK and Libya moved at a glacial pace culminating in a hurting stalemate from 1994. The interdependence of decisions in this scenario prescribed a haggling and bargaining approach to negotiations since each party had partial control over the its own consequence and the other partys outcome. Understanding negotiations as a bargaining process in which both parties move from their initial positions towards an optimum outcome using both coercion and concession warrants an exhaustive diagnosis of the parties, their initial positions and interests in the issue.
Negotiation analysis prescribes a pragmatic framework for mapping all relevant parties and their relationships in the context of the negotiations process. At the time, the relationship between Libya and the Western powers was fraught with hefty animosity and an explicit call for each others fall. President Reagan described Qadaffi as the Mad Dog of the East and covert US operations in 1986 involved bombing Qadaffis home killing his daughter and injuring his entire family including himself. Meanwhile, the Colonel was funding a wide range of terrorist organizations across globe, from the IRA and Pan African Congress to the Red brigade and Black Power movement. This chasm in their relationship inherently dictated their positions and interests.
The cardinal incentive for parties to enter negotiations is to protect or proliferate their interests and thus, interests dictate the rationale behind the attractiveness of a deal. Negotiation analysis emphasizes on being cognizant about partys underlying interests to analyze trade-offs to increase pay-offs. The analysis often becomes complex since parties are not monolithic and most times there exists a spaghetti bowl of laden in a single issue. In the initial phase of this negotiation, strategic interdependence of their decision compounded to the dissonance in their interests rendered negotiations unproductive. Consensus on issues and preferences were very limited, if not non-existent between the two aisles.
Anchored at the opposite ends of the political spectrum, their incorrigibility in political ideologies, institutional structures and leadership styles led to protracted delays and derailment of the case early on. For Libya, the primary motive in retaining the accused was not merely dictated by its revisionist tendencies but for rational national security reasons – it did not want its intelligence officers in the custody of Western powers, and perceived that the USs demands for complete cooperation and access to more witnesses and documents as a trap by the West to infiltrate his intelligence. Western interests were initially torn between exploiting this window of opportunity to attack Libya, gain intelligence and curb its terrorism funding, and ensuring justice to the victims family. However, having declared Libya as a terrorist state, US position of no-negotiation with terrorists restrained direct negotiations with Libya, institutionalizing the structure and process of subsequent negotiations. A positional bargaining approach masked certain compatible interests till the later stages of negotiations.
Intuitively, parties are parry to negotiations to satisfy the totality of their interests better through some jointly decided action than they could otherwise. Hence, unpacking offers, and counter-offers reveals US-UK and Libyas positions in time and their agency to increase pay-offs and reach an agreement. In this scenario, a bargaining and haggling approach to negotiation was in vain from the beginning since both parties were negotiating without regards to others reservation/security points and in essence, negotiating in a zone of no possible agreements- The US-UK demand for a trial in the UK laid within Libyas reservation price to have no Western government interrogate its intelligence officers, while Libyas counter offer of a fair home country trial with international observers was unacceptable to the coalition.
Negotiation Analysis offers insights into the power asymmetry in negotiations by exploring the alternatives to negotiated agreement available to the parties. Strengthening ones own BATNA and delegitimizing the others are vital strategic moves in the long run. Availability of a large number of favorable alternatives can be leveraged by the parties to pursue their interests more aggressively in a negotiation and increases the willingness to walk away. BATNAs or moves away from the table