Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who's Trustworthy?

Aaron Friedberg is skeptical about the efficacy of negotiations with states like Syria and Russia to achieve U.S. objectives.

As I noted in a response to his post, we should be skeptical of a belief that simply negotiating leads to positive results--or to negotiations designed to produce a CNN moment.

I do think that his use of the democratic/authoritarian split is overblown, however, in terms of assessing where negotiations are likely to work.

Mr. Friedberg is correct to doubt the efficacy of negotiations with Russia and Syria though not for the reasons he gives.

These negotiations will bear no fruit because the US foreign policy elite still believe that the USG are in a position to dictate terms, and therefore believe that they do not have to take the views and interests of their negotiating partners seriously.

In this, as in many other things, the US foreign policy elite are, of course, gravely mistaken.
Well put. US policy makers still think that they can get something for nothing (or not that much).
We've given DPRK a bunch of carrots since 1994 and we've gotten very little in return. The administration of George W. Bush made significant concessions but saw little return on investment. As John Bolton recently noted, diplomacy works 99.9% of the time but there is that elusive .1% where diplomacy simply won't work. Some states, like DPRK, do not keep their commitments. Our diplomatic experience with DPRK is a reminder of this. The trick is for policymakers to identify the .1% and make sure they don't waste scarce resources on negotiations with folks like Kim.
Tom Skypek:

North Koreans claim that the United Stated, under Clinton, deliberately dragged her feet in the implementation of the terms of the Agreed Framework. That US indeed was hoping for a North Korean state collapse which would obviate the need for any payment on any agreement.

The North Koreans further would argue that the existence of their state was threatened by US under George Bush, leaving them no option but withdrawal from NPT and construction of nuclear weapon.
As far as states not keeping their commitments, where are those two light water reactors the USG was supposed to build NK, and you do remember President Bush I's promise to Gorbachev that NATO would not expand if a unified Germany could be in NATO, and the commitment in the NATO-Russia Founding Act to exclude force in relations with other States that got blasted apart in the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999?

Indeed, the USG has been a rogue government whose word has been utterly unreliable for the better part 20 years. And Mr. Bolton has been one of the most vocal advocates of that rogue policy. Due in no small part to Mr. Bolton's efforts, other governments are well aware of this, which is why Secretary Clinton will find relations with Russia, for instance, very heavy going.
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