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McCain and Obama disagree on whether the president should meet with dictators and tyrants. But scholars suggest the answer is clear.

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June 22, 2008

By Mark Oppenheimer

This year’s presidential election has again brought up the debate on whether the president should meet with dictators or tyrants. There seems to be two clear sides, each representing a stark worldview: “tyrants need to be entreated” vs. “tyrants need to be isolated.” However, Mark Oppenheimer writes, among scholars there is far less controversy. Professor Robert Mnookin was among the scholars quoted in the article:

“Sometimes you need a leader to make a bold statement,” says Robert Mnookin, director of the Harvard Negotiation Research Project. “When Sadat flew to Jerusalem, it was like flipping a switch. The week before, Israel considered Egypt an especially symbolic enemy. Sadat’s willingness to do that changed that. Acts by leaders can have costs; they can also have enormous benefits. And to categorically rule them out is a mistake.”

Read the full article at The Boston Globe.

Robert Mnookin is the Samuel Williston Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, director of the Harvard Negotiation Research Project, and the chair of the Program on Negotiation

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