by the other side and it is for this reason that the capacity and willingness to retaliate must be made clear. In GRIT, cooperation is combined with firmness. GRIT works best when the parties are relatively equal in power or when the superior party makes the concessions. When the weaker party makes unilateral concessions it can invite exploitation, but even the weaker party can sometimes achieve a breakthrough in a stalemated conflict by initiating a unilateral concession.
In 1967 Israel and Egypt engaged in a war that was costly to both sides. It was clear to both nations that Israel was militarily superior, but nonetheless Israel continued to fear attacks from Egypt and its other Middle Eastern neighbors. In 1971 Anwar Sadat offered to sign a peace treaty with Israel, if Israel would withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula. This offer was dismissed by Israel, in part because none of its neighbors had ever been willing to talk peace. This stalemate lasted until 1977, when Sadat unilaterally offered to travel to Israel to address its parliament concerning his peace offer. To make such an offer was extremely risky for Sadat personally, and it caused Egypt to lose the support of the Arab world. This conciliatory gesture was accepted by Israel and a peace treaty ensued largely because this act entailed such high costs to Sadat and it was so irrevocable ( Lebow & Stein, 1987). This is an instance where the weaker party made a unilateral conciliatory move that was successful in getting the desired response, and where it is likely that a low-cost, reversible gesture would have failed.
Although unilateral concessions are typically made without the intervention of a third party, in some instances a third party induces one of the disputants to make a unilateral concession. A case-study analysis of 20 international disputes found that third-party mediation was an effective way of breaking cycles of mutual competition and coercion ( Leng & Wheeler, 1979). Leng ( 1984) argues that firmness in response to coercion, combined with conciliatory initiatives, can be an effective policy. He argues that during the Cold War, the United States obtained more favorable outcomes when inducements were backed by threats than when it used inducements or threats alone.
The overall conclusion that can be drawn from the literature on negotiation and unilateral de-escalation has been nicely summarized by Patchen ( 1988):
[A] successful policy . . . is one that combines a measure of firmness and a measure of flexibility, both a willingness to vigorously resist coercion by an adversary and a willingness to