The Right Coast
April 26, 2004
By Mike Rappaport
An excellent post by Steve Den Beste on negotiations. He argues that negotiations lead not necessarily to moral results, but to results based on the balance of power. Moreover, the parties must agree on who has the balance of power:
The "Paris peace negotiations" for the Viet Nam war lasted for years primarily because the two sides did not agree on who had the upper hand, as well as because the balance of power between them was changing (as the war went on). That's also common; sometimes it takes armed conflict for the two sides to learn their relative strengths.
That problem of identifying who has the upper hand, and by how much, is also the reason why Old Europe's diplomacy with the US has been such a fiasco. To listen to their rhetoric, you'd think they were in a position of strength, and that the US needed them more than they needed us. Because of that, their rhetoric also implies that it should be the US which makes the most concessions. Given that the Bush administration, and the majority of Americans, don't view it that way that means there has been no agreement which healed the trans-Atlantic divide. As long as old-European rhetoric continues to be dominated by superciliousness, there won't be.