The notion of someone of an opposition party serving in the other administration once was common, says Bernard Aronson, who worked for Mondale, Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr. “Bipartisanship wasn’t just some airy idea,” he added. “It was an effective policy that turned these divisive issues into win-wins.”
His latest contribution are coming on behalf of President Obama as he works to ensure progress in negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC rebels on the world’s “longest ongoing guerrilla war“. He used humor, fairness, and respect for the rebels.
“Bernie Aronson has an unparalleled understanding of how to be firm when you need to be, and at the same time how to develop the empathy that builds trust,” Sergio Jaramillo, one of Colombia’s lead negotiators, said in an email.As a Democrat who served as assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs under the first President George Bush, Mr. Aronson has made both peace and war.He was involved in carrying out Mr. Bush’s invasion of Panama in 1989, and he was a strong supporter of the contras in Nicaragua in their fight against that country’s leftist Sandinista government. While never holding a position in the Reagan administration, he did help write an important speech for Ronald Reagan praising the contras as freedom fighters in a worldwide battle against Soviet expansion.But Mr. Aronson also helped bring about the demobilization of the contras after the Sandinistas lost elections in 1990. And he played an important role in negotiating the 1992 peace accord that ended the civil war in El Salvador.