Negotiation experts often say it’s a shrewd idea to make the first offer, and to be fairly aggressive about it — to “anchor” the negotiation that follows. Here’s what that could mean in this situation:
You get a request to fill out a report — or whatever — “as soon as possible.” You consider how soon you might actually be able to do it, given everything else you’re dealing with. Then you add some extra time.
Kissinger inveighs on statesmanship, ‘the craft of “attending” to [global] problems’ in his forthcoming book. He has been attacked by liberals such as Christopher Hitchens, Gary J. Bass and Seymour Hersh as well as from conservatives. Even as it sounds a lot like my class lecture last week–I’m still looking forward to the massive tome:
The premise is that we live in a world of disorder: “While ‘the international community’ is invoked perhaps more insistently now than in any other era, it presents no clear or agreed set of goals, methods or limits. . . . Chaos threatens side by side with unprecedented interdependence.” Hence the need to build an order — one able to balance the competing desires of nations, both the established Western powers that wrote the existing international “rules” (principally the United States), and the emerging ones that do not accept them, principally China, but also Russia and the Islamic world.
This will be hard because there never has been a true world order. Instead, different civilizations have come up with their own versions. The Islamic and Chinese ones were almost entirely self-centered: If you were not within the umma of believers or blessed with the emperor’s masterly rule, you were an infidel or a barbarian. Balance did not come into it. America’s version, though more recent and more nuanced, is also somewhat self-centered — a moral order where everything will be fine once the world comes to its senses and thinks like America (which annoyingly it never quite does). So the best starting point remains Europe’s “Westphalian” balance of power.
via Henry Kissinger’s ‘World Order’ – NYTimes.com.
Words matter, especially when your country is being cut apart.
“I do not want to define it right now, but you can call it what you want,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told a news conference last weekend in Brussels, where European Union leaders agreed that Russia had increased the “inflows of fighters and weapons” to Ukraine and mounted “aggression” but made no mention of any invasion.
President Obama has been equally circumspect, opting initially for the term “incursion” before denouncing Russia’s “brazen assault” on Ukraine during a speech on Wednesday in Estonia.
Is Putin crazy–or crazy like a fox? The noted author Timothy Snyder, author of the massively important and equally depressing book Bloodlands on how Poland was ravaged by Germans and Soviets, explains:
But we need to dig a bit deeper into the plot for the three concepts needed to understand this very strange war, in which Putin has radicalized Russian politics, destroyed a European peace order, challenged Europeans’ assumptions about their entire future — and even threatened nuclear war. Every reason proffered to explain a war that is pointless to the point of nihilism is obviously bogus or self-contradictory or both. To grasp this horrible event in which people are killing and dying for no discernible reason, we need to remember some key concepts from Orwell: Eurasia, doublethink and learning to love Big Brother.
A recent film about Hannah Arendt, the political philosopher, illustrated into her views on evil and Adolf Eichmann, a leader in the Third Reich in what a reviewer called “the glorification of thinking.” Now, Arendt’s original thesis has been challenged–this time in a new book by Bettina Stangneth, the author of Eichmann Before Jerusalem.
Listening to Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt saw an “inability to think.” Listening to Eichmann before Jerusalem, Ms. Stangneth sees a master manipulator skilled at turning reason, that weapon of the enemy, against itself.
“As a philosopher, you want to protect thinking as something beautiful,” she said. “You don’t want to think that someone who is able to think does not also love it.”
via Book Portrays Eichmann as Evil, but Not Banal – NYTimes.com.
Kissinger’s new book attempts to chart what comes next in building a coherent, peaceful world order–in light of Arab uprisings, China’s rise, and the host of other developments:
To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?
For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions’ histories, cultures and views of their security. Even as the lessons of challenging decades are examined, the affirmation of America’s exceptional nature must be sustained. History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.
Sent from my iPad
You can count on Stephen Walt to address the big questions, including the destruction of Ukraine:
Will someone get serious about real diplomacy, and make Putin an offer he’s unlikely to refuse? Instead of building more bases in Eastern Europe, the United States and its allies should be working to craft a deal that guarantees Ukraine’s status as an independent and neutral buffer state. And that would mean making an iron-clad declaration that Ukraine will not be part of NATO. (Just because many Ukrainians want to join doesn’t mean NATO has to let them.) Recent proposals for a deal lack that essential ingredient and aren’t going to solve the crisis.
A “Finlandized” Ukraine might not be an ideal outcome, but it is better than watching the country get destroyed. Putin may reject such a solution, of course, but surely it deserves a serious attempt before things get even worse.
via The Top 10 Questions About the World’s Biggest Problems.