Within a contemporary context, the concept of ripeness has been cited constantly as international groups try to dissuade potentially violent groups from engaging in warfare or political provocation. The theory does ring true on a basic level however it still needs work before it can be considered a completely comprehensive school of thought (Zartman 1989).
Although William Zartman is the first to put this ripeness theory into print in his series of negotiation books, the basic notion has been mentioned by others before him. Notably, Henry Kissinger, the United States' Secretary of State from 1973 to 1976 pointed out that "stalemate is the most propitious condition for settlement" (Zartman 2000). Kissinger was the American official who oversaw the end of a warring era between Egypt and Israel during his time in office, and it was his role as a mediator that helped to bring about the signing of a peace treaty just a few years later (Deiwiks 2005). Perhaps more remarkably, Henry Kissinger was the 1973 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Vietnam War, a military engagement still considered an incredible failure by many Americans and international citizens. For his part in the resolution, Kissinger confronted many factors in the confrontation between North and South Vietnam. A controversial man himself, Kissinger did actually fail to make the Paris Peace treaty work for North and South Vietnam, however is esteemed for negotiations that eventually helped to stop the war. Was the failure due to 'unripeness'; both parties in an unready state for negotiation
The Vietnam War occurred during the time of the Cold War, an extended feud between Western democracies and Eastern communist countries who were both trying to prove their superiority in ideology. No guns were ever fired in this time, which is why the period is referred to as the 'Cold' war; however the tensions present between such nations as the United States and the Soviet Union meant that an outburst between these nations' allies was bound to become a proxy war. A proxy war, as described by Narender Sehgal (2001) is an armed conflict that arises almost secondary to the real point: The United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in conflict without actively pursuing an enemy, so the involvement of a Soviet ally in warfare gave the U.S. the chance to step in and fight the Soviets, to a certain extent.
Many Americans felt that the involvement of their country in the Vietnam War was unjustified; however despite massive protests at home America continued to support South Vietnam and to fight the North Vietnamese communists who had both the Soviet Union and China on their side. What Henry Kissinger faced was a seemingly endless war that couldn't be won easily. He had to gauge the best way to end the war and salvage the dignity of his nation, and to do that he had to have an overall understanding of every aspect involved in the conflict. For one thing, he had to take into consideration the fact that it was indeed a proxy war, and big egos were present on either side. Apart from that were the localized issues at work in both the North and South Vietnamese. How did they both envision the end of the war Was there any hope of a middle ground or did one side simply have to overpower the other
Kissinger did understand the principle of ripeness in positive mediation (as much as one can without the itemized