Friday, June 06, 2008

Good Enough?

I am up in New York to attend the national conference of the Council on Foreign Relations, and here is my thought for the day

We have no problem articulating all sorts of "best case" scenarios in foreign policy. What we seem to be less comfortable with is outlining "good enough" outcomes-when the end state may fall short of the ideal but may represent an acceptable compromise.

When holding out for the best case may prove unrealistic or prohibitively expensive, can we articulate a series of "good enough" outcomes we can live with? This seems to be a common thread when assessing options in Iraq, vis-a-vis Iran, and so on

Yes, there does seem to be a theme: America can work to set an agenda, or it can sit back and others will proceed anyway.
That is an interesting idea. I have just made a similar argument regarding the Geneva Conventions for TNI. The problem is usually that people on opposite sides of an argument - in this case, the human rights community on the one hand and the Bush Administration on the other - rarely want to embrace a process for compromise in advance, because they fear losing their bargaining advantage.
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