2014-08-21 / Opinion

'No Victor, No Vanquished'

To the Editor:

After his wide-ranging interview of President Obama, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reported on Aug. 9, 2014, on the way so many elements of our world have become totally dysfunctional because of the various sides taking what the president called maximalist positions–with no impulsion to negotiate or compromise. This is seen in the Middle East, in the China-Japan squabble over a tiny island, and most blatantly in the U.S. Congress. Friedman’s bottom line was that our society is gravely threatened by this polarization. He made a plea for a change of attitude that would resolve disputes on the basis of “no victor, no vanquished.”

Locally, a first step down that path has been taken by the Preservation Society of Newport County (PS) in its open letter to the Bellevue Ochre Point Neighborhood Association (BOPNA), offering meaningful negotiation with the neighbors. And ironically, this was published in Newport This Week’s August 14 edition just a page after the BOPNA president’s letter castigating the PS for not discussing. So here, indeed, is an opening to resolve this dispute that does so much to enrich lawyers, but so little to advance the good of the community. Let BOPNA state what truly is their aim: control of traffic in the area? Restrictions of access to PS properties?

Tourism, taxed in so many different ways, is a major component of Newport’s economy. Yet clearly property rights must be respected by tourists and those who serve them. A balance must be struck.

So let the maximalist positions soften. Let negotiations go forward in good faith and in a way that produces no victors, no vanquished–in Newport, in Congress, and in the world. Nicholas Brown

Capt USN (ret)

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