On Monday, China and India announced an amicable resolution to their dispute at their shared border area with Bhutan that began on June 16.

When countries find themselves locked in a dispute, they face a choice between conflict perpetuation and conflict resolution. Too often, they choose to prolong and deepen the conflict by insisting that "we" are totally in the right and "they" are completely in the wrong. The dispute involves a matter of basic principle — sovereignty is always a favorite — over which there can be no negotiation.

"Compromise" and "accommodation" become the diplomatic equivalent of four-letter words. Once both sides lock themselves in, resolution becomes much more difficult without serious loss of face and so the dispute becomes frozen — unless of course it escalates into outright war, in which case the battlefield can resolve the dispute at least temporarily. This is not a bad, if somewhat abstract, explanation for the frozen Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.