The Elements of Diplomatic Deal-Making

(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Gerald M. Steinberg - Diplomatic deal-making requires mastery of four basic elements: integration of diplomacy with the credible threat of force; the rewarding of friends and the punishing of enemies (rather than the opposite); a diplomatic focus on interests rather than emotions; and a refusal to condescend to the citizens who will be affected. Throughout the Obama presidency, the essential role of power in international diplomacy was largely ignored. When Obama went to Cairo in March 2009, he called for freedom, democracy, and friendship between the U.S. and the Arab world. But there was no action plan behind the speech - no carrots and no sticks. In all of Obama's Middle East activities, interests and power were largely ignored. In the few instances in which Obama threatened to use force, there was no follow-through. (The killing of Bin Laden was a one-time attack against an individual, not an ongoing strategy against a state or terror group.) For John Kerry and Barack Obama, their main diplomatic "success" was the agreement with the Iranian regime on their illicit nuclear program. To avoid friction and maintain good feelings, the U.S. allowed Iran to continue many of its ongoing weapons-related activities, including upgrading centrifuges, testing new and better ballistic missiles, and supporting terror, including Hizbullah's butchery on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria. Diplomats who arrogantly tell people they are wrong, and that they know better than the people what is good for them, get little traction. No country's citizens relish being patronized by outsiders. In their last-minute initiatives, including the American decision to abstain (and thus passively support) UNSCR 2334 and the subsequent speech on the evil of settlements, Obama and Kerry repeatedly instructed Israelis that the policies they recommended were for Israelis' own good. The message was that Americans could define Israeli interests better than the country's elected leaders. The writer is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, founder of the graduate program on conflict management and negotiation, and president of NGO Monitor.

2017-01-25 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive