Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recurring theme

One of the recurring ideas I've been struggling with recently is the idea that concessions and respect earn dividends. I won't claim that its something new or unusual, at least for middle powers, but it seems that much of the American pundit class is having trouble with it.

Fortunately, there are some who are showing how it can work, including Barack Obama. This can be seen in concessions made by China after Barack Obama left. Andrew Sullivan (commenting on reporting done by Jim Fallows) helps to show that. On three of the four major issues that most people have been pushing Obama to push China on (the fourth being human rights), China shows progress after the President went home. That suggests (though does not prove; I don't want to be accused of post hoc/propter hoc issues) that the President had some effect while he was there.

And this is the essence of diplomacy. Loudly demanding things from countries gets you nowhere, even if you are the unipower. Perhaps, actually, especially if you are the unipower.

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