Tag Archives: negotiation

The Athenian Model of International Relations 

 

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The way that a diplomat looks at the world matters. Civilizations and, today, nation-states, have differing views on the way the world works. A Chinese approach to diplomacy takes a different time-horizon than many Western countries, who tend to be focused on the short-term.

But what happens when you see the world as a business deal, or a zero-sum negotiation? What are the moral implications? Writing in the New York Times, columnist David Brooks draws a line between the values that shape our worldview–with an eye toward a few of the U.S. administration’s leading figures.

Good leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Reagan understand the selfish elements that drive human behavior, but they have another foot in the realm of the moral motivations. They seek to inspire faithfulness by showing good character. They try to motivate action by pointing toward great ideals.
Realist leaders like Trump, McMaster and Cohn seek to dismiss this whole moral realm. By behaving with naked selfishness toward others, they poison the common realm and they force others to behave with naked selfishness toward them.
By treating the world simply as an arena for competitive advantage, Trump, McMaster and Cohn sever relationships, destroy reciprocity, erode trust and eviscerate the sense of sympathy, friendship and loyalty that all nations need when times get tough.

via David Brooks in The New York Times, The Axis of Selfishness

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Gray Diplomacy: Side Deals

Much was made of the U.S. payment to Iran as a “ransom for hostages.” As President Obama said, “The only bit of news is that we paid cash…because we don’t have a banking relationship with Iran.”

 The truth is, what President Barack Obama did was more like standard operating procedure for presidents, who must often enter into notoriously “gray areas” of diplomacy with hostile powers.

Think of it as the art of the side deal. From the earliest times, presidents have quietly cut private pacts to push big big diplomatic goals through—often with a lot of secrecy, and sometimes in violation of the country’s own stated diplomatic rules.

via Politico

Still not sure? Read through Jack Beauchamp’s piece in Vox where he breaks it down step-by-step.

 

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Howard Raiffa, a Father of Decision Science

Leadership and diplomacy involve making decisions at various levels.

Founder of the Kennedy School of Government. Negotiation expert. Decision science scholar.

You may not have heard about Howard Raiffa, but he is considered a foundational scholar, leader, and teacher who made decision theory and negotiation accessible and important to the organizational practitioner. He is also a key figure in the development of games and simulations to teach key concepts and to apply them in practice.

His first book, Games and Decisions (1957) introduced game theory. Other notable publications include The Art and Science of Negotiation (1982), Smart Choices (1998), and Negotiation Analysis (2003).

The best practical advice, Professor Raiffa wrote, is “to maximize your expected payoff, which is the sum of all payoffs multiplied by probabilities.” He explained that “the art of compromise centers on the willingness to give up something in order to get something else in return.”“Successful artists,” he added, “get more than they give up.”

Source: Howard Raiffa, Mathematician Who Studied Decision Making, Dies at 92 – The New York Times

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Machiavelli, reconsidered.

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“Redemption, rebirth, must take the form of going back to the founding principles” says an expert on the Florentine diplomat.  A lifetime of study helps Professor Maurizio Viroli of Princeton and UT Austin rebrand Machiavelli as a sage observer of political culture and a helpful resource for today. (Also, in his earlier works Viroli worked to redeem Machiavelli from being seen merely as sinister.)

His book, How to Chose a Leader: Machiavelli’s Advice to Citizens, offers solutions to contemporary political predicaments, say, the fallen Berlusconi or the rising Trump, for example. In the LA Review of Books Robert Zaretsky writes:

We are as weak now as we were then. We still want to believe, and not the small stuff. We want, instead, to believe the big stuff. The bigger the lie, the greater our satisfaction; the greater our satisfaction, the deeper our credulity. Yet Machiavelli, contrary to popular belief, does not applaud this sort of dissimulation. Instead, he agonizes over it. Time and again, he urges citizens to exercise their reason, to beware of leaders who appeal to their passions. In troubled times, he warns, citizens turn against minorities within their countries by turning them into scapegoats. This reflex, in turn, lifts to power those who promise to protect the people against their imagined enemies. The enemy of my enemy is not just my friend; he is my leader.

Utah radio interviewer Doug Fabrizio explores the book with Viroli on KUER’s Radio West. It is well worth a listen for a few fresh insights into

 

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Persuasion Skills, Reframing, and How to Survive Tough Conversations Post-Thanksgiving Dinner

What to do: frame your position in terms of the moral values of the person that you are trying to persuade.  The problem? Its hard.

Why do we find moral reframing so challenging? There are a number of reasons. You might find it off-putting to endorse values that you don’t hold yourself. You might not see a link between your political positions and your audience’s values. And you might not even know that your audience endorses different values from your own. But whatever the source of the gulf, it can be bridged with effort and consideration.

Maybe reframing political arguments in terms of your audience’s morality should be viewed less as an exercise in targeted, strategic persuasion, and more as an exercise in real, substantive perspective taking. To do it, you have to get into the heads of the people you’d like to persuade, think about what they care about and make arguments that embrace their principles. If you can do that, it will show that you view those with whom you disagree not as enemies, but as people whose values are worth your consideration.

Source: The Key to Political Persuasion – The New York Times

So a main takeaway is to let go of your own views and develop a strategic view on how your opponents could possible believe in it. Its not easy to do this.Try it on these hot-button issues:

  • same-sex marriage
  • gun control
  • allow immigrant refugees/migrants into your _______ (state/country)

The skill of reframing has obvious uses for politics and diplomacy. But its also important for business. As Karim Benammer and Bernd-Jan Hilberts observe, Mauritius can be seen as a small insignificant island facing rising sea levels–as well as a headquarters amidst a huge ocean area with sustainable ocean mining opportunities and a”high leverage economy.” Here’s the work:

The idea of reframing isn’t new but the recent insights into moral framing come from studies produced by Robb Willer, a Stanford sociologist and Matthew Feinberg of the University of Toronto and were published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

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The Diplomatic Situation vis-a-vis Israel

According to Nathan Thrall, three types of officials can take the lead on U.S. policy with Israel: “skeptics,” “reproachers,” and “embracers”. His piece does a great job of assessing the current situation in the Middle East Peace Process–or what still exists of it.

The third type appears to have the upper hand:

Embracers are popular with presidents because they tell them precisely what they want to hear: that you can achieve your goals by closely allying the administration with Israel, improving relations with it in the process, making Palestinians happy since your cradling of Israel will lead to the peace they desire, and all while winning plaudits from Israel’s supporters in the U.S., thus paying no domestic political price. So far this dream has not come true, but the words have been too sweet to be resisted.

Obama, who fell under their spell quite early in his first term, adopted a strategy toward the peace process not unlike that of Goldilocks toward porridge. He entered office thinking the Bush Skeptics were too warm toward Israel, telling a group of Jewish leaders in 2009, “During those eight years [of Bush], there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that?” But Obama soon concluded that his Reproachers were too cold. So he handed responsibility to the Embracers, whom he believed would be just right.

via Faith-Based Diplomacy — Matter — Medium.

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Henry A. Kissinger as Negotiator

The myth of Kissinger is as great as the historical reality, if not larger. Whether you find him to be a scion of diplomacy or a scoundrel, or a little bit of both, how does he stack up as a negotiator? A recent paper by James K. Sebenius and Laurence A. Green do a little work by exploring three key negotiations, with a useful list of other activities in the appendix:

Following a brief summary of Henry A. Kissinger’s career, this paper describes three of his most pivotal negotiations: the historic establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, the easing of geopolitical tension with the Soviet Union, symbolized by the signing of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (“SALT I”), and the mediation of the agreement on Sinai disengagement between Egypt and Israel. An appendix lists other important negotiations in which Kissinger played key roles. In a subsequent paper (forthcoming), the authors will examine these and other major events in which Henry Kissinger played leading roles in order to extract their most important insights into the principles and practice of effective negotiation.

via Henry A. Kissinger as Negotiator: Background and Key Accomplishments :: SSRN.

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The Security Council Intifada | Foreign Policy

How Palestine is making its diplomatic moves using the most powerful UN body:

The flurry of Council diplomacy is part of a broader push by Palestinian diplomats and their supporters to capitalize on international frustration with Israel and to use multilateral institutions as means of pressuring Israel into a policy shift. In recent months, the Palestinian Authority has moved to join a clutch of international organizations and treaties, from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Those moves are starting to pay diplomatic dividends: A meeting of the states that belong to the Geneva Conventions, another treaty Palestine has joined, rebuked Israel’s settlement policies this week. Palestinian officials have also dangled the prospect of joining the International Criminal Court, a step that Israel fears and that Washington has warned against.

This week’s Security Council move is one piece of this broader strategy, but it also marks a new chapter in the Council’s long and tortured relationship with the Middle East.This week’s Security Council move is one piece of this broader strategy, but it also marks a new chapter in the Council’s long and tortured relationship with the Middle East. For almost 70 years, the body charged with maintaining international peace and security has failed utterly to resolve the longstanding conflict. For all the hubbub in New York, there’s little reason to believe this encounter will be any more fruitful.

via The Security Council Intifada | Foreign Policy.

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What’s to Gain from Gaming World History?

What if you could mix world history into a competetive strategy game where you control a civilization–and match it up against others, both real and imagined?  What if the game could be used to teach diplomacy and negotiation?

Sid Meier has done this, as have others.  To explain, Foreign Policy asked him to delve a little deeper and explain why, exactly, this game works:

FP: So what is the secret of Civ’s longevity?

SM: I think there is a combination of these grand ideas — war and peace, exploration, 6,000 years of history, great leaders — in a playable format. You can easily make a game with these elements that is unplayable or overwhelming. What we’ve tried to do is introduce these elements in a playable, manageable way, so that you as the player can master and experiment with them. Combining these things is the power of Civ.

via You Must First Invent the Universe.

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WWHD = What Would Holbrook Do?

We still look for leadership when major security crises beg for diplomatic prowess–and Richard Holbrooke cannot be forgotten. Stephen Sestanovich suggests the following lessons:

  1. America should never be on the sidelines
  2. Paint a big canvas
  3. Dont’ shy away from nation-building
  4. Diplomacy reflects facts on the ground — change them if you have to
  5. Muscle your friends as well as your enemies
  6. You get one bite at the apple — so take a big one

How do you deal with difficult people–even the “devil“?  Holbrook was especially good at this conundrum, as noted in no. 5:

The Clinton administration’s star negotiator knew that getting to yes involved a lot of cajolery, a lot of charm—and a lot of confrontation. He could be shameless when it came to buddying up to the bad guys. His principle seemed to be that there was nobody you couldn’t do a deal with, and he included criminals like Slobodan Milosevic. The good guys were surprised by how rough he was prepared to be with them. The Dayton peace talks ended well because Holbrooke gave the Bosnian Muslims an ultimatum: If you don’t sign the agreement in one hour, we close the talks down for good. His handling of the Pakistanis was equally unsentimental. An aide compared his treatment of difficult allies to therapy for psychologically abused children: “You don’t focus on the screaming and the violence—you just hug them tighter.”

via What Would Richard Holbrooke Do? – Stephen Sestanovich – POLITICO Magazine.

Read more from Sestanovich–who is the main speaker in today’s Kennedy Center CFR Conference Call on US foreign policy:

  1. Stephen Sestanovich, “Maximalist,” Alfred A. Knopf, February 2014.
  2. Stephen Sestanovich, “The Price of Pulling Back From the World,” New York Times, February 9, 2014.
  3. Stephen Sestanovich, “What Would Richard Holbrooke Do?” Politico, December 9, 2013.
  4. Stephen G. Brooks, G. John Ikenberry, and William C. Wohlforth, “Lean Forward: In Defense of American Engagement,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013.
  5. Barry R. Posen, “Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013.

 

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