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Diplomacy and International Theory Author(s): Barry H. Steiner Reviewed work(s): Source: Review of International Studies, Vol.

30, No. 4 (Oct., 2004), pp. 493-509 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 03/01/2012 15:11
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of International



30, 493-509


? British




DOI: 10.1017IS0260210504006199


and international



has Diplomacy long been neglected this deficiency, this essay focuses upon repair two distinctions. is between One diplomacy of diplomacy as overcoming

as a preoccupation over bargaining as independent

of and

international disputes dependent as causal This as


theory. To and makes variable. influence, is

Analysis as when

studies variable independent that increase the danger pressures

diplomatic practice of war or deadlock.


important for developing a diplomatic 'point of view'. Dependent diplomacy analysis is preoccupied with constraints upon diplomatic statecraft and with adaptation to them. A
second distinction is between bargaining dependent non-negotiated negotiated that converges and bargaining, upon to reconcile common interests on divergent between state interests, states. The and essay

dwells upon
hand, and

the link between


independent diplomacy
convergent bargaining,

and negotiated
the other.


on one

No area of world politics has reflected a greater gap between experience and theory than diplomatic statecraft. This has placed students of diplomatic statecraft increas relations analysts who have aimed at ingly out of phase with other international controlled broader explanation, and cumulative comparisons, insights. There are a variety of reasons for this condition. students of diplomacy have not been theoretically oriented. They have its extreme variability, and consequently the difficulty of reaching empirical 'Of all the branches of human endeavour', Harold Nicolson wrote generalisations. in support of this view, 'diplomacy is the most protean'.1 those most Second, First, stressed to comprehensive committed international from theory have excluded diplomacy on the grounds that it is too uncertain and unpredictable. their generalisations For a prominent neorealist theorist, criticises multipolar example, John Mearsheimer, in them 'coalition systems because strength would depend heavily on vagaries of is that diplomacy'.2 A third reason for the failure to study diplomacy theoretically

to the 41st Annual Meeting This article is a revision of a presentation made of the International on 15March am indebted for helpful comments Studies Association, Los Angeles, 2000.1 California, to Kenneth Waltz, Richard and two anonymous reviewers. Betts, Patrick Morgan, Cited

in William C. Olson, The Theory and Practice 9th edn. (Englewood Relations, of International Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994), pp. 122f. on negotiation Works include Adam Watson, and diplomacy PA: ISHI Diplomacy (Philadelphia, New Approaches inHistory, Lauren Publications, 1986); Paul Gordon (ed.), Diplomacy: Theory, and Zartman (New York: Free Press, 1979); I.William (ed.), The 50% Solution (Garden City, NY: Policy R. Berman, Zartman and Maureen The Practical Negotiator 1976); I.William Doubleday, (New and Christopher Mitchell Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982); Daniel Druckman (eds.),

in International and Mediation, Negotiation Flexibility special issue of The Annals, 42 (November Zartman in International and J. Lewis Rasmussen 1995); I.William (eds.), Peacemaking Conflict: Methods and Techniques DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997); Roger (Washington, NJ: Fisher et al., Coping with International Saddle Prentice River, Hall, 1997); Janice Conflict (Upper


494 those

Barry H. Steiner

so have not provided a satisfactory For foundation. who regarded diplomatic statecraft as central to inter national peace, emphasised the contrast between, on the one hand, the potential of to mitigate classical diplomacy and on the other, the eclipse of power politics, Soviet-American Cold the While each of these arguments War.3 diplomacy during could be theoretically analysed, the two do not seem to fit into the same theoretical to doing committed Hans example, Morgenthau,

or affirm any theory about diplomatic article does not propound behaviour; more it foundation that permits subjecting instead, modestly, develops a pre-theory to theoretical to inductive, empirically diplomatic practice inquiry specifically, not studies but universal Research grounded contingent yielding generalisations. must be tailored to this foundation by having a relatively narrow focus and by taking account of the variability of diplomatic experience, no matter how 'protean'. These are prerequisites out for drawing broader implications from particular case studies. This can and should be As Alexander George has noted, apparently unique developments more a a described 'as particular value of generally general variable that is part of a theoretical framework of independent, intervening, and dependent variables'.4 Analysis in this article is limited to the diplomacy of interstate dispute management and one of the most in which high-stakes resolution, bargaining, important aspects of takes place.5 diplomacy, The foundation here contains a conceptual framework of presented consisting two key distinctions. The first is between diplomacy as independent and as dependent as dependent variable takes into account variable.6 Diplomacy rising constraints upon diplomatic statecraft, such as public opinion, ideology, and the intrusion of

to the Table (Baltimore, MD: Stein (ed.), Getting Johns Hopkins Press, 1991; Fred C. University Ikl?, How Nations Negotiate Raiffa, The Art and Science (New York: Harper & Row, 1964); Howard R. Polk, Neighbors and Press, 1982); William of Negotiation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University IL: University of Chicago 3rd Press, 1997); Harold Nicolson, Strangers, part 6 (Chicago, Diplomacy, edn. (London: Oxford University in The Press, 1963); Thomas Schelling, An Essay on Bargaining', Press, 1963), ch. 2; Sasson Sofer, 'Debate (New York: Oxford University Strategy of Conflict over Theory?' Review of International 14 (July 1988), pp. 195-208; E.L. Revisited: Practice Studies, 36 (Spring 1947), pp. 405-422; 'The Old and the New Diplomacy', Yale Review, Robert Woodward, and Bargaining in J. Roland Pennock and John W Chapman Jervis, 'Bargaining Tactics', (eds.), IL: Aldine, Coercion and H. Butterfield, 'The New Diplomacy and 1972), pp. 272-88; (Chicago, Historical in Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight Diplomacy', (eds.), Diplomatic Investigations, (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1966), pp. 181-92. 2 in Graham John Mearsheimer, 'Disorder Restored', Allison and Gregory F. Treverton (eds.), Americas Norton, Rethinking (New York: WW Security 1992), p. 226. Another is 'International of a example of the neglect of diplomacy Security Studies: A Report on the State of the Field', by Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and Sean M. Lynn-Jones, Conference International G. concerns as an of 'non-military' 1988), pp. 5-27. The report cites the importance but fails to cite the diplomatic aspect of those concerns. 3 For Morgenthau's of the need to revive diplomacy in order to strengthen international 4th edn. (New York: Knopf, for his argument peace, see Politics Among Nations, 1967), pp. 532-50; to operate and tends to in the Soviet-American that diplomacy Cold War 'has little with which see ibid., p. 531. become obsolete', 4 Alexander L. George, 'Case Studies and Theory Development: The Method of Structured, Focused in Lauren, Diplomacy: New Approaches, p. 47. Comparison', 5 to one commonly-used international relations text, 'the essence of the [diplomatic] According process Security, element 12 (Spring of national security, discussion in Frederic S. Pearson and J.Martin International Relations: The Rochester, bargaining', in the Twenty-First Condition 4th edn. (New York: McGraw Hill, Century, 1998), p. 267. 6 as Independent The present writer has previously studied this distinction in 'Diplomacy and International 6 (2001), pp. 79-104. Variable', Negotiation, Dependent remains Global


and international



as dependent variable also focuses on the of diplomacy specialised actors. Analysis to which idea of diplomatic practice adapts to these constraints. Nicolson's degree the of and their incorporates potential 'protean' diplomacy presumably diplomats to to and economic fate the governments political, military, adapt changes affecting of diplomatic initiatives. On the other hand, Morgenthau, the of effects critiquing on Cold War diplomacy in the latter half ideological inflexibility and militarisation of the twentieth century, was more pessimistic about diplomacy's adaptive potential. an independent variable when diplomats push for constitutes By contrast, diplomacy to pressures in that increase the chances of war. management dispute opposition When Morgenthau the of nineteenth century European praised diplomats qualities for their ability to prevent war between major powers, and argued for taking the on secondary questions,7 and for accommodating crusading spirit out of diplomacy as independent variable. he had inmind diplomacy is between negotiated second distinction and non-negotiated types of bargain states cannot is when the interests of be ing.8 Diplomacy negotiated fully reconciled, is required to reveal the area of agreement. and explicit bargaining For example, notes Bull the for is that that 'states have different Hedley problem diplomacy . . . common a to and interests have first be identified interests, process of by can of before maximization of them Adam arise'.9 Watson any question bargaining as has more defined between entities generally diplomacy 'negotiation political which acknowledge each other's to negotiate will or opportunity converge upon and underscore standings, highlight the potential practical steps to strengthen the norms critical for international independence'.10 On the other hand, even when the is absent, and when it is not explicit, bargaining can common interests between states, avoid misunder for communication between adversaries, and define A

is harmony of interests. Non-negotiated bargaining of behaviour. Convergence is stimulated either by to recognise shifts in national interest or by new opportunities those shifts. An is of of the former the France into the international system, example r?int?gration on holding periodic and agreement consultative between highly-placed meetings The latter is illustrated great-power officials, in the era after the defeat of Napoleon.

between the United States and China in the early 1970s on the by the reconciliation to the Soviet Union. basis of their common opposition are elaborated upon in this essay, a preliminary conclusion As these distinctions is that independent diplomacy is especially highlighted in explicit, negotiated bargain ismore common when bargaining is convergent. ing, whereas dependent diplomacy must to the be alert theorist other However, logical possibilities: negotiation can be takes place under sharp constraint, and independent frequently diplomacy as a when state Hitler and inter showed, highly significant, Napoleon employs national norms to weaken them.

Politics Among Nations, 534-44. pp. 446-7, Morgenthau, was suggested to the present writer by Milton The distinction between the two kinds of diplomacy See Esman, in Ethnic Conflict', Esman. 'Political and Psychological Factors in Joseph V. Montville in Multiethnic Societies Books, (ed.) Conflict and Peacemaking (New York: Lexington 1991), pp. 60-62. 9 Bull, The Anarchical Press, 1977), p. 177. (New York: Columbia Society University Hedley 10 Watson, p. 33. Diplomacy, 8


496 The

Barry H. Steiner

to define a diplomatic essay also uses independent and dependent diplomacy to it of evaluate the world literature and to raise questions view', using 'point politics can a viewpoint needs that additional work focus Such upon. theoretically-oriented to be further developed and legitimised.


as dependent


as dependent variable refers to the consequences of specified constraints Diplomacy with disputes with other states. for the ability of states to cope diplomatically Constraints have effects either as possibilities, with some courses of action made more difficult or impossible by the constraints or and others easier to accomplish or as in the environment, that, because of changes newly possible; probabilities action will be taken and others excluded.11 specified courses of diplomatic as dependent To illustrate the use of diplomacy variable, we study here the norms of classical from the assertion that the European diplomacy, dating for some century, have had a declining impact upon state behaviour eighteenth of intervening modern The classical norms included developments. five great powers in Europe; (1) preserving (2) limiting wars by restricting in the field; and (3) limiting the ambitions of states by strengthening commanders the balance of power.12 Gordon argue in their study Craig and Alexander George was Force and Statecraft about revolution' that, beginning 1890, a 'diplomatic in technology, in the public's caused by changes effect upon diplomacy and time because in the intrusion of complex and technical economic issues into world diplomats, and in the rise of ideologically-motivated leaders. They maintain that politics, taken together, weakened and governments' these developments, diplomats' to the older diplomatic lessened diplomatic and commitments norms, flexibility, to intensified war and conflict.13 contributed In showing how the dependent variable - the diplomatic ability to defuse confront ations - has been affected by the diplomatic revolution, Craig and George note that has been complicated difficulties of controlling allied crisis management by modern action, of coordinating forces, of slowing down the tempo of military military

11 I am

and Harvey indebted here to World Politics: A Menu for Choice, by Bruce Russett Starr, 5th edn. Freeman, 1996), pp. 20-21. (New York: WH. 12 L. George, Force and Statecraft, A. Craig and Alexander 3rd edn. (New York: Oxford Gordon Press, 1995), p. x. University 13 'The diplomatic The full statement of the theory is as follows: revolution eroded both the conditions in technology and norms that supported the classical European and science system. Developments and the art of warfare; the emergence of mass revolutionized communications, transportation, it and made peace more precarious political parties and of special interest groups rendered domestic more difficult for governments as in the past; and the rise to pursue coherent and consistent policies and extreme forms of nationalism of new ideologies tended to increase international friction and became more conflict-prone, the homogeneity of the community dispute. As the international to control, deteriorated. As the new technologies of war became more difficult diplomatic community lost faith in the norms, procedures and statesmen and modalities that had maintained the diplomats and viability of the balance-of-power also foreign affairs system in the past. Increasingly flexibility to the currents of heads of state who were more sensitive fell into the hands of popularly-elected domestic politics and public opinion.' Ibid., p. 286.


and international



incentives for pre-emptive military military and diplomatic moves, and of countering case of the outbreak of the First solutions. The well-known action and military World War illustrates all four of these problems. It might be hypothesised that, as a same of these the diplomatic revolution rendered diplomats consequence problems, If so, a larger and governments less able to defuse crisis by peaceful means. of confrontations between great powers in the twentieth century would proportion have ended in war than during the classical period. Craig and George supply an overview this hypothesis. historical that seems to disconfirm They note how 'the in almost continuous warfare against each other' powers were engaged during the classical period of the eighteenth century.14 And in the Cold War period two hundred years later, by the time the diplomatic revolution had presumably taken became a hallmark of Soviet-American relations. root, successful crisis management Soviet-American peace persisted during more than forty years of dangerous Cold to Craig and George - the international War conditions, according during which concern about crisis focused upon mutual superpower system was normatively principal to prevent a Third World War. management a link between the diplomatic To hypothesise revolution and peace or war is to the variance in the dependent variable in terms of crisis outcomes. Such understand a link, if established, would display the impact of the diplomatic revolution on crisis if in its But the form. revolution is not clearly management strongest diplomatic related to crisis outcomes, itmight nevertheless affect diplomacy by introducing such loss of flexibility, and multiple channels of communic pressures as war deadlines, ation. It might be hypothesised that these pressures made crisis more dangerous but did not predetermine crisis outcomes. To state the relationship between the diplomatic revolution and the process of in this weaker form is to place the focus upon the between governments to the newer pressures. One possible of diplomats and governments to is that and governments were say, diplomats response was diplomatic passivity; to adapt to them. The rapidity bewildered by the pressures and unable or unwilling interaction response with which the assassination in July 1914 was followed of the Archduke Ferdinand war the of such outbreak bewilderment. When Morgenthau by major might suggest Cold War as 'obsolete',15 he seemed to described diplomacy during Soviet-American even if war took place as the consequence of accept that same position. However, new crisis pressures, to support the conclusion this is insufficient that diplomatic norms and efforts were insignificant. According to Richard N Lebow, the most was in remarkable feature of German 1914 the great difficulty decision-making German in going to war;16 that difficulty can be reconciled with leaders experienced can only explain older system norms. Furthermore, successful crisis passivity with reference to fortuitous circumstances. With reference management of successful Soviet-American crisis management, neither fortuitousness of nuclear war are adequate explanations. to the record nor the fear

14 15 16

Craig and George, See fn. 3. Richard N. Lebow,


and Statecraft,


(ed.), Military Strategy Press, 1985, p. 167.

in Steven E. Miller 'Windows of Opportunity: Do States Jump Through Them?', and the Origins of the First World War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University


Barry H. Steiner

of diplomatic passivity Craig and George for their part reject such an assumption in this context. They instead conclude - much less pessimistically than the full out line of the theory suggests - that 'The diplomatic revolution has both complicated in a crisis to those that and aided the ability of statesmen to confine military moves to their limited constitute clear demonstrations of their resolve and are appropriate added).17 Statesmen are aided, they observe, by the availability resources clearer means for top intelligence sophisticated providing to evaluate the opposing decision-makers side's military moves. Instead of being an serves as an opportunity for leaders to unalloyed negative constraint, technology and for the conditions their freedom of compensate military political impairing success in action. Such a conclusion, which helps explain repeated Soviet-American an as crisis management, raises dilemma for those studying diplomacy analytical one variable. On and hand, emphasis upon the strength of constraints dependent objectives' of more (emphasis in the dependent the resulting weakness variable should not lead to the that the latter is informed by passivity alone. On the other hand, the assumption more that diplomacy is conceived of as adapting to or compensating for constraints in the international the less problematic for international environment, stability those constraints appear to be. Craig and George appear to be of two minds on this subject. In their overview of - consistent with the revolution is with international history, their focus diplomatic at bay, impeded in accomplishing what it had notably increasingly diplomacy upon in the nineteenth accommodation of major achieved century, namely, peaceful does remain effective during crises disputes. The puzzle here is that diplomacy to adapt The ability of diplomats and governments despite the rising constraints. seems to be part of the answer to and to take advantage of new-found opportunities the impact of the diplomatic revolution will be this puzzle. However, establishing as well as limitations affecting more difficult when account is taken of opportunities for are because the channels of influence to be accounted behaviour, diplomatic
more numerous.

in which the overall concern is By contrast, in that portion of Force and Statecraft to statecraft, so as to increase the chances of successful crisis to apply knowledge focus upon opportunities management (among other goals), Craig and George about how policies have and available to states, and especially upon information in the past. This approach highlights how shifts in international have not worked than are the willingness may be less important for crisis management developments to learn from their past mistakes. Here the puzzle is how and ability of policymakers learn to overcome international constraints, and why they do or do not policymakers do better narrower, on the learning curve. The puzzle is resolved by the discovery, through and differences case-focused commonalities analysis, of policy-relevant in a variety of cases. Craig and George in fact argue in this connection for theory, rather than for more case-grounded such as that of the diplomatic revolution.18 complex and broader

appearing more limited, propositions

17 18

Craig and George, Ibid., pp. 153-63.

Force Such

and Statecraft, added. p. 224. Emphasis an approach is also advocated by George

in 'Case Studies

and Theory


Diplomacy Diplomacy as independent variable

and international



as an independent variable when, contrasting Martin Wight understands diplomacy of particular wars, he the inevitability of war in general and the preventability them is statecraft. 'It is that the difference between argues explainable by diplomatic the task of diplomacy', he writes, 'to circumvent the occasions of war, and to extend to drive the automobile of state along a one the series of circumvented occasions; In the head-on traffic, past infinitely recurring precipices'.19 way track, against as in the of nineteenth the mid-twentieth, century, importance independent diplo matic action was directly associated with the magnitude of the threat of great-power war. And while diplomacy was certainly employed as it was earlier for propaganda, and gamesmanship, its greater importance was to counter the prevailing deception tide of conflict at the time of the greatest need. The crisis management dimension of can in it be appears, only by understanding particular fully examined, diplomacy as an independent variable - that is to say, the use of statesmanship to diplomacy counter the drift to war, rivalry, and mistrust arrange by reaching cooperative ments in spite of those tendencies. If diplomacy 'circumvents then intrinsic gain in agreement is less occasions', critical than avoiding a breakdown of discussions. The larger the risks and dangers of such a breakdown, more understandable and the more unacceptable therefore a diplomatic failure, the as independent variable. Despite is the focus upon diplomacy as a dependent variable in relation to the diplomatic revolution, treating diplomacy appear to treat it as an independent variable in relation to the Craig and George in which of successful crisis management, the consequences of requirements mean 'If catastrophe failure could is to be diplomatic highly destructive warfare. in a 'decision makers avoided', they write in relation to superpower confrontation, a at crisis must be capable of functioning very high level'.20 They justify this

conclusion primarily by the scale of the effort required to restrain armed forces on levels. Of seven crisis management war-readiness placed requirements Craig and set forth, four relate entirely to military restraint - irrespective of diplomatic George to the most active diplomatic such restraint, posture designed options. Without the distinction between passive and preserve peace will be inadequate. However, even if military active diplomacy has a bearing on Craig and George's conclusion restraint is practised. They recognise the importance of diplomatic efforts: one of a and their rules provides for reconciling diplomatic second entails military moves; rather than to seek a that signal a desire to negotiate options 'diplomatic-military that solution'; and a third entails choosing options military 'diplomatic-military a way out of the crisis'.21 On the latter two points they cite leave the opponent fear of annihilating warfare, grounds for optimism: (1) because of the widespread current in 'The of policy makers the industrialized is likely to world generation avenue rather than resort to force'; and (2) of negotiation explore every possible

Power Politics, eds. Hedley Bull and Carsten Holbraad (New York: Holmes Wight, 1978), p. 137. 20 Force and Statecraft, p. 227. Craig and George, 21 in the next sentence are also ibid., pp. 225-6. Ibid., p. 216. The quotations

19 Martin

& Meier,


Barry H. Steiner
of advances in communication and transportation, governments are better

to 'separate] the opponent's fundamental interests from his rhetoric'. to these last underestimate the difficulties of initiating an However, points appear In particular, active diplomacy under time-urgent, highly pressured conditions. the a to to of solution crisis is the be finding peaceful problem likely complicated by in which the crisis has arisen: most modern-day circumstances crises occur because of some diplomatic failure brought about by faulty reading of the opponent's enabled intentions. As Robert Jervis has noted, upon the onset of crisis the credibility of the and of one's own country will be in question.22 Yet questioning the value opponent of trusting the adversary will likely prevent a government from 'exploring every to selective Instead, it can be expected to contribute possible avenue of negotiation'. to take advantage of communic and to retard the willingness outlooks, diplomatic trust between ation links compromised Moreover, by prior misunderstanding. harder to re-establish during crisis when diplomats adversaries may be paradoxically move restraint, defusing 'against the flow', so to speak. In short, apart from military even unnatural, crisis may require an improbable, of the prevailing transcending political environment. is frequently reflected in frantic and uphill efforts While independent diplomacy to prevent war, it is also evident in efforts to shape the terms of defection and war. behaviour can affect military realities by (1) increasing or decreasing the Diplomatic level for which defection is a response; frustration (2) adding to the dependence as opposed an to military and (3) itself becoming channels; upon diplomatic of facilitating defection. With respect to the first of these, indispensable means on some preliminary numerous cases exist in which the will to defect is conditioned its In 1941, for example, the Japanese naval staff postponed programme. diplomatic to permit Japanese diplomats inWashington attack against Pearl Harbor additional to work out a territorial arrangement with the United States over the opportunity Far East that would make the attack unnecessary. Only when additional discussions did the naval staff proceed with its war plans.23 The failed to break the deadlock in 1979: in Soviet Union went still further as it prepared for war in Afghanistan October States so as to 1979, it 'telegraphed its intentions to intervene' to the United reactions. American failure to protest may well have been taken by gauge American to the intervention.24 the Soviets as evidence that the United States had no objection to defect is linked either to confirmation In these cases, the decision of an un some favourable one in which certain favourable diplomatic reality, or to obtaining goals will not be damaged by the defection. can affect military not by utilitarian conditions, Second, diplomacy diplomatic that can flourish as a substitute for defection but by a process what demands,


in International Relations Jervis, The Logic of Images (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University state opponents too 1970), p. 95. One reason for this may be that leaders trust their adversary a confrontation. the latter would not precipitate much, presuming trust was a cause of the Cuban missile For a study concluding that too much and crisis, see Albert in Cuba', Adelphi Paper no. 17 (London: the Risks Institute of Roberta Wohlstetter, 'Controlling Robert Press,


1965). Strategic Studies, April Gordon W Prange, The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981), pp. 368-9. For helpful analysis of this and related issues, I am indebted to unpublished work by Sutee Ketsiri. 24 in Teheran', Edward 'Secrets from the CIA Archive Orbis, 31 (Spring 1987), pp. 39^10. Jay Epstein,

Diplomacy George

and international



existed in the Kennan has termed 'that cushion of safety that normally to talk with one another over the diplomatic channel'.25 This ability of governments for world politics of the much-studied the relevance prisoners' point weakens dilemma game, which has been adduced in recent decades to explain how, without occurs as mutual to co override incentives defection communication, suspicions even an in alliance that otherwise encourages operate, relationship cooperation. From the diplomatic of states to point of view, on the other hand, the decision

defect, or to act to exclude each other from the game, is likely to depend on a can be obtained, a calculation calculation of whether mutually beneficial outcomes that logically requires taking account of existing diplomatic channels.26 There is no a priori reason to assume that states should invariably behave as if communication or inconsequential, between them were relatively unimportant and be compelled, for to develop in which they are required to decide lack of it, to allow for a condition once and for all whether to defect.27 In addition, the perceived value of the pre the relationship needs to be taken into account by those who emphasise if it is not, the importance of defection; of defection is deflated. The directs 'Defection from What?' though coloured by military developments, question, attention as well to the perceived importance of the diplomatic cushion. can itself be a tool of defection. For example, the illusion of a Finally, diplomacy Nazi-Soviet framework was critical to Hitler's the strategy of defeating cooperative was more to in Russians attack 1941. Hitler offer Stalin still by surprise required terms than those contained in the Molotov-Ribbentrop favourable Pact of 1939 indeed, virtually any terms that Stalin asked for, in order to establish the cover of the German-Soviet of defection rather than alliance.28 In such cases, the underestimate the objective danger of defection is the key condition. makers under '[D]ecision estimate the ability of others to defect', Jervis has written, 'and therefore frequently ... [They have that they can get away with some exploitation believe, incorrectly, defection importance thought] they could ated the constraints safely act against the other side's interests because inhibiting the rival's retaliation'.29 they exagger

25 1950-1963 Kennan, Memoirs: (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1973), p. 139. 26 can be totally neglected. To be sure, the formal diplomatic Kennan refrained from potential George at all with Stalin for nearly a year when in the Soviet Union in any contact serving as ambassador 1953 and 1954. And, prior to the Seven Years War in 1756, British and French leaders, assuming that their opposite in North America, did not want war over their relative empires did counterparts were they of peace, that when not question each other's pacific intent. So confident reports of inMaine and the Ohio Valley reached London and Paris, the governments fighting rejected to probe their opponents' intentions with force. The two countries decided negotiations, preferring ... at all cost', since to embark upon limited war while maintaining to 'cordiality they wished than destroy each other. Because of their political and diplomatic optimism, they the urgency of the crisis, and the outstanding issues were never really discussed. of the Seven Years' War', Journal of Modern Louis-Ren? 'The Origins Higonnet, History, 40 (March 1968), p. 78. 27 . . could become a dominant motive The case in which 'the urge to preempt. if the character of forces endowed haste and initiative with a decisive advantage' is incisively discussed in military Press, 1966), pp. 227ff. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Schelling, Arms and Influence 28 as a Special Case', to Threat Perception: Peter Karsten, Accommodation in Klaus Knorr 'Response Dimensions Press of (ed.), Historical (Lawrence, KS: University of National Security Problems impress played Patrice down 29 Kansas, 1976), pp. 123^1. Robert Jervis, 'Realism, Game pp. 338-9. Theory, and Cooperation', World Politics, 40 (April 1988), rather

502 Bargaining

Barry H. Steiner over divergent and incompatible interests

as an independent variable ismost compelling when The case for treating diplomacy states must be taken into account to manage a crisis. in of conflict interests divergent must view the occasions that 'circumvent of war' suggests that diplomacy Wight's will that is struck be viewed the because their any bargain differently by participants are likely to be different interests and expectations and perhaps irreconcilable. Bargaining may be impeded by a lack of clarity about the adversary's interests, since, as Charles Lockhart has remarked, prior to crises states 'do not adequately recognize . one another's interests, or . . misperceive that others are able and willing to support these interests.30 In such cases, crisis management requires clarifying the adversaries' of Berlin, a high-water diplomatic interests for each other. At the Congress achieve was more to is said have been the fact that ment, diplomacy peace by facilitated threatened by the absence of clearly defined objectives than by major incompatibility state interests.31 Mediation and later by Jimmy Carter to by Henry Kissinger over conflict the Sinai also illustrates the importance of manage Israeli-Egyptian for the interests each other. clarifying opponents' can be clarified under if the diplomacy time constraints, is not too Goals a In the Cuban missile in for 'least effort' ambitious. crisis, agreement example, was remove to in which the Soviet reached Union relatively quickly, agreed principle its missiles from Cuba, in exchange for an American agreement not to invade Cuba of in Turkey would and private assurances that American missiles intermediate-range seems particularly desirable when the risks of be removed.32 'Least effort' agreement miscalculation and of inadvertent war are high that is, when military preparations to gauge of war must be made, but where the preparing country is not in a position how itsmilitary moves are perceived by its adversary. interests thus need not, in themselves, Divergent impede the chances of bargain interests stimulate bargaining, because as the parties have ing agreement. Divergent assessments of to exchange the value of agreement contrasting they are prepared more more the for other benefits valued 'It benefits valued by party by themselves.33 a even 'to reach if Fisher has the be settlement easier', Roger written, may peaceful parties do not see things the same way, but rather see things differently'.34 to manage to those highlighting of diplomatic the potential activism Opposed crises are others who view diplomatic activism as a major cause of confrontations that constrain diplomats. This second viewpoint the dangerousness of emphasises

30 31

Charles p. 141. According objectives



in International


(New York:





true to say that the absence of clearly defined toWN. Medlicott, '[I]t is probably a more serious threat to the peace of Europe of provided [at the time of the Congress between the ultimate aims of Austria, and Russia'. Berlin] than any real incompatibility England, Books, Congress 1963), p. 4. of Berlin and After, 2nd edn. (Hamden, CT: Archon 32 For diplomatic of the Cuban missile L. Garthoff, conflict management crisis, see Raymond on the Cuban Missile DC: The Brookings Crisis, revised edn. (Washington, Institution, Reflections 1989), pp. 97ff. 33 see Zartman and Berman, The Practical Negotiator, This is known as Homan's theorem; p. 13. 34 Fisher et al., Coping with International and Berman p. 47. Zartman Conflict, (The Practical that this statement is pp. 175-6) point out that it is in the details of negotiation Negotiator, illustrated.


Diplomacy interstate confrontations

and international



dispute. The determination objectives.

of governments in promoted by the hard bargaining is of a loss of control that can lead to war despite the danger of the parties to avoid it, and the hard bargaining reflects inflexible Thomas Schelling conceives of states as
of tests of nerve, and explorations for resolve, . . . a diplomatic of commitment process through international often have relations the character not so much tests of force

by in the relations between adversaries...issues Particularly major or on a particular the most to bear in a locality, force bring more or to to force bear to make able it appear willing bring

in demonstrations continually engaged and misunderstandings understandings . . .The is itself unpredictable. resulting in risk-taking, characterized competition

that of a

as by tests of nerve. are decided can not by who but is eventually by who is forthcoming.35


that more

of resolve that diplomats example of a demonstration was the crisis that the First World War. successfully manage preceded concerns were then compounded Positional commitments and the strength by prior of national will, ruling out flexibility. 'The game of power politics, if really played in reference to multipolarity, hard', Kenneth Waltz argued more generally 'presses Perhaps could not the most famous the players into two rival camps, though so complicated is the business of making and maintaining alliances that the game may be played hard enough to produce that result only under the pressure of war'.36 Produced by war pressures, hard bargaining was extremely difficult to sustain without producing widespread under multipolarity allies were determined not to hostilities, because, Waltz maintains, hard-bargaining defect from their alliances. More recently hard bargaining was a characteristic of the diplomacy of the Soviet in communist the after the Second World War, when regime period immediately Soviet representatives were said to be 'under compulsion to try for a certain number of times to secure each Soviet point, no matter how minor', even and consequently minor became an of While disputes 'test[s] staying power'.37 posing extremely difficult challenge toWestern patience, such tactics were paradoxically as contagious: hard bargaining for individualistic one is sensible for it also becomes state, any gain sensible to any and all the others, irrespective of the 'regulated environment' that was in conflict with such bargaining. states that are attracted to Yet, the more as a political the less attractive instrument becomes. individualism, free-loading and of Indeed, by complicating convergence dispute management interests, such can make all states worse off by heightening individualism the search for relative

be raised from a diplomatic point of view about this problematic to states reference Schelling's 'continually engaged in demonstra deflates the distinction between pre-crisis and intra (my emphasis) that permits gauging the full impact of the onset of the sense of mutual danger, which is in turn conditioned by the confrontation's unpredictability. as ineffectively during crisis as beforehand, If diplomacy functions the chances of

can Questions condition. First, tions of resolve' crisis diplomacy

in original. Schelling, Arms and Influence, pp. 93^. Emphasis Kenneth N. Waltz, Politics Theory of International (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979), p. 167. added. Emphasis 37 'Some Soviet Techniques of Negotiation', in The Kremlin and World Politics: Philip E. Mosely, in Soviet Policy and Action Studies Books, (New York: Vintage 1960), pp. 21-2. 36


504 ultimate

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are quite high, and yet Schelling does not appear to allow for the to the crisis that would help to forestall that result. Moreover, adaptation diplomatic and the onset of crisis, as Schelling understands the link between diplomacy it, can an has of crises the that be questioned. impact upon dangerousness Schelling argues pre-crisis behaviour of states. 'What deters such crises', he wrote in reference to the is that they are 'and makes them infrequent Cuban missile crisis, for example, in this not should be is clear crises But it discouraged why genuinely dangerous'.38 as states to crises the time that if, appear dangerous, way prior Schelling contends, engage in tests of resolve. continually to confront while Second, Schelling focuses on problematic diplomacy contributing on confrontation. Governments that such ation, he is silent discourages diplomacy appear to make binding commitments more frequently when they assume that these under conditions of multipolarity is correct, governments will not be tested. IfWaltz a diplomatic to their fear of because of make commitments hesitate mostly in that from such a their position and of the loss breakdown, they anticipated tended toward the model of 'Politics among the European breakdown. great powers
a zero-sum game', Waltz argues. 'Each power viewed another's loss as its own gain.

to cooperate for mutual benefit, Faced with the temptation wary and was inclined to draw back'.39 that concerns about relative advantage thus agrees with Schelling Waltz impede and suspicions of states but he suggests that the diffidence interstate cooperation, tests of of each other. A second limitation on diplomatic limit their confrontations Jervis has argued, resolve is the use of ambiguity. Without ambiguity, diplomatic to retreat as much as possible and tend to force their adversaries countries would would find it more difficult to probe each other's views.40 A third limitation is that rather than maximal associated with minimal is usually the hardest bargaining For example, as Henry Kissinger noted, countries desiring a negotiated positions. to that are subject will ordinarily objectives agreement begin with maximal to defect will start a negotiation with while only countries determined modification, their minimal position.41

each state became



as increasing of the potential understood interests are commonly Convergent most in such In international their interstate cooperation. form, regimes, developed about others' patterns of behaviour interests 'establish stable mutual expectations that will allow the parties to adapt their and . . . develop working relationships new that result from convergent situations'.42 Cooperative arrangements practices to that otherwise make cooperation interests temper concerns about relative advantage between states difficult or impossible.

38 Schelling, Arms and Influence, p. 96. 39 Politics, p. 70. Waltz, Theory of International 40 Jervis, The Logic of Images, pp. 127-8. 41 1812-1822 and the Problems A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, of Peace, Henry Kissinger, 1964 [1957]), p. 73. (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 42 Robert O. Keohane, Press, 1984), p. 89. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University After Hegemony

Diplomacy Advocates of

and international



about convergent bargaining employ contrasting assumptions one that convergence defuses crises hand, they hypothesise diplomatic behaviour. On or traditions by limiting tests of resolve. 'One of the values of laws, conventions, in games of nerve', Schelling has written, 'is that they that restrain participation not lack of for declining is manifestly provide a graceful way out. If one's motive are as no costs to in refusing the absence of nerve, there enduring compete'.43 Even to increase the danger of war, tacit rules, situationally communication appears can be a way to resolve a and not requiring any explicit communication, determined some is needed', Schelling has written, 'and when formal crisis. '[W]hen agreement has been virtually severed, when neither side trusts the other nor expects diplomacy to be enforceable, when there is neither time nor place for negotiating agreements new understandings, that is available may have a take-it-or-leave-it any agreement that quality. It can be accepted tacitly by both sides or by unilateral announcements one will abide by it if the other does too'.44 On the other hand, Schelling takes account of the possibility that a multitude of channels may be available during crisis. This he finds problematic communications new objectives, making to communicate because the channels provide opportunities crisis results more indeterminate.45 'One difficulty with overt negotiations', Schelling
wrote, Is that interests between have a there are to consider, too many to compromise, too many places possibilities can discriminate too many that the exact choice of language ways to too much In marriage freedom of choice. and real estate it helps involved, contract', similarly because it restricts anything each that can't side's flexibility go without in negotiation. can't go saying Tacit into the too many

to reconcile, parties 'standard-form is often



understanding. Only bold outlines can be perceived. Both sides have to identify, separately but simultaneously, a plausible and expectable dividing line or mode of behavior, with few
alternatives any the to choose among at all....In of and knowing and that success on the first adversaries perceptions try may be essential confined precedents.46 to to understanding restrictive language warfare action the dialogue a dictionary between of common is often and

When diplomacy is inadequate, and yet the overriding of states is with two scenarios the search for common interests, the difference between Schelling's the absence of communication and large-scale communication is insignificant. that states can define common interests, negotiated Assuming diplomacy will either so be inconsequential (when diplomatic linkages are severed) or needs to be made are more that whether their distractions). (when linkages Schelling argues generally or plentiful, communication is minimal need to coordinate their antagonists a to off because have 'common their certain eyes they inability keep expectations from a diplomatic outcomes'.47 However, point of view, the problem of acting on common interests raises a different set of questions. First, defining and acting upon convergent solutions may be problematic because (1) conflicting goals and attitudes


43 Schelling, Arms and Influence, p. 120. 44 in original. Ibid., p. 139. Emphasis 45 Observations cited in The Bomb by Schelling, Delacorte Press, 1968), p. 71. 46 Schelling, Arms and Influence, pp. 140-41. 47 The Strategy p. 73. of Conflict, Schelling,


the Computer,

by Andrew


(New York:

506 may

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is not well-defined; and solutions; (2) convergence prevent reaching convergent are move to the determined (3) parties beyond convergence. contacts are likely to interests and norms exist, diplomatic Second, when common act When the Cold define and them. War between the Western upon help analysing as an international Powers and the Soviet Union assert and system, Craig George war that the two sides had only one objective in common another world preventing and this common overrode their conflicts and rivalries. many objective They succeeded because of the widespread fear explain that Cold War crisis management that any superpower war would escalate, and because of military Yet deterrence.48 the regular exchange of views between American diplomatic practice, particularly was also significant in helping to manage and Soviet diplomatic representatives,

to uphold norms frameworks constructed international Diplomatic commonly states adapt to affirm and strengthen illustrate how the norms. They also illustrate how states capitalise opportunistically upon those norms for paradoxically as governments are more relative gain. Such frameworks stimulate opportunism confident that they will not need to pay a high price for their commitments. Writing about that superpower relations in the Middle East, for example, Harold Saunders wrote

With the safety net of ... a diplomatic framework to fall back on, [theUnited States and Soviet Union had] been willing to use the Arab-Israeli conflict as a vehicle in their
competition, to accept but setbacks. each side has recognized some limits most of tolerance in the other's and . . . Interestingly, they were cautious in 1967 willingness 1983 when their

bilateral relationship was least well developed. They were most daring in terms of their own competitive military involvement in 1970, when they had begun to develop enough of a relationship to be more confident of their ability to avoid confrontation but were still testing each other in the process of building that relationship.50 Rather to be the prime than ruling out confrontation, the safety-net appears that can itself lead to confrontation; stimulator, in turn, of trust between adversaries the framework emboldens the parties to strengthen their positions and commitments so that the latter is tested.51 in a manner that cannot be sustained by the framework, Schelling and Saunders can evidently agree that the same situational problems that
a normative preference for convergent solutions also draw attention to what



p. 105. Craig and George, Force and Statecraft, 49 In that 'To urge that the superpowers undertake another study, George wrote timely, serious area and to identify actions by the other to clarify their interests in a particular discussions diplomatic those interests is to do no more than to enjoin US and side that they would regard as threatening He went on to note 'sporadic Soviet leaders to make greater use of traditional practices'. diplomatic ones in the 1980s, and noted that 'The question some successful efforts' to do so, including is how to and make them more effective'. 'US-Soviet practices et al. (eds.), US-Soviet and Crisis Avoidance', in George Press, 1988), p. 595. Yet regular useful exchanges (New York: Oxford University Security Cooperation are known to have occurred between American and Soviet diplomats through much of the Cold War than George See, for example, As I important period, and appear to have been more acknowledges. S. Papp (New York: Penguin Books, Saw It, by Dean Rusk, ed. Daniel 1991), pp. 357-61. 50 in the Arab-Israeli Harold H. Saunders, Soviet-US and Cooperation Arena, 'Regulating Competition in US-Soviet 1967-86', pp. 575, 578-9. Security Cooperation, 51 see The Practical Negotiator, On the value of trust in negotiations, pp. 27ff. institutionalize such to Cooperate Efforts traditional diplomatic in Crisis Management

Diplomacy distracts activism

and international



states away from the convergence. But Schelling's concern that diplomatic to international solutions of convergent crisis is weakens the potential common norms a to that different and transformed Saunders very problem: by to take greater risks in exploiting their differences, interests embolden governments relies upon common the tests of resolve that Schelling and indirectly stimulate
to temper.


with ample convergence because the Bargaining may to be more opportunistic are to to needs the less be of breakdown smaller; diplomacy geared dangers narrow can more a for demands it be conditioned the breakdown, by preventing the is insignificant, or absent altogether, national advantage. But when convergence are larger and bargaining must be narrower if crisis instabilities risks of breakdowns are to be overcome. of the contending In such a case, the context rather than the myopic states forms the major danger to stability. self-interests



This article has tried to develop a diplomatic point of view and to refine concepts to to be the object of theoretical of conflict management enable the diplomacy study. the main arguments and elaborates further on This concluding section summarises a point of view and refining concepts are related them. It also shows that developing

A diplomatic point of view is developed here in two ways. One is to point out how focus upon diplomatic that do not explicitly arguments practice have unstudied of these implications detracts from isolating the implications. Neglect diplomatic on other developments, which we may term significance of diplomacy independent as a causal influence practice 'diplomatic potential'. Understanding diplomatic that is, how it impacts upon other specified variables requires theorists to anticip ate diverse ways in which that potential can be actualised. occurs is linked Failure to appreciate a variety of ways in which this actualisation as an independent to the neglect of crisis management variable. In this diplomacy that article, for example, we have noted the argument made by Craig and George in Soviet-American is to be explained by the mutual crisis management cooperation fear that any outbreak of superpower war could escalate, and by deterrence. While these affected diplomacy directed to superpower disputes, they do not focus upon the independent
power confrontation.


that diplomacy


to the management



as independent This article has argued that diplomacy is most conse variable 'circumvent occasions' when quential when, as in the Cold War period, diplomats faced with a common, highly threatening danger. At this preliminary point, it may the independent be suggested that among the first steps for appreciating significance of diplomatic practice must be to probe the operational significance of what Wight The circumventing occasions'. necessitates negotiated 'circumventing] and the have because rules and norms larger importance bargaining, negotiations are relatively weak. to diplomatic necessitates For example, circumvention resistances anticipating of the threat the element and of failure to initiatives, overcoming them, using danger has termed


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establish a basis of accommodation, being able to make expeditious decisions and to force expeditious decisions by others, and limiting the focus of negotiations. Circum not be over vention also entails the risks of failure; diplomatic should potential a rate the in because instances herself rated, many dangerous diplomat may as success. in of failure than the of chances probability higher negotiated bargaining action evidently drives this effort, and not the chances of The necessity of diplomatic success, yet the chances of success may be increased or diminished by the choices diplomats make. some also discussed in this article, suggests that A much larger body of writings, variables such as military plans and dispositions, ideology, public opinion, and the of commitments, making by limiting diplomacy impact upon crisis management a From choices. the weakness of these writings is diplomatic viewpoint, diplomatic as dependent variable cannot adequately be illuminated solely by the constraints it upon diplomacy brought about by other variables; highlighting must also allow diplomats' to these constraints. it should adaptation Specifically, action based upon skill and ingenuity in particular circum allow for opportunistic for that limit diplomatic choices. Writings that stances, compensating developments a so are to too from do fail confining point of view. Failure to allow diplomatic to constraints, for example, weakens Schelling's discussion of diplomatic adaptation that diplomacy tests of resolve; Morgenthau's of diplomacy characterisation during the Cold War as 'obsolete'; and Craig and George's about the argument 'diplomatic revolution'. is more accept limitations posed by Adaptation likely to occur when diplomats as a given. But the analyst should also anticipate, added constraints alternatively, in that diplomats may be unaware of the constraints, and thus may act perhaps - as fashion counterproductive though they do not exist; or that diplomats may be aware of the constraints and accept them passively without taking compensatory as they impact upon diplomatic the weight of the constraints action. To determine a null hypothesis as a hypothetical the theorist, who must introduce practice, as a binding should never accept a priori the constraints possibility, obligatory diplomatic superpower element upon diplomatic action. Instead, their importance will have to be determined on a case-by-case them as basis, taking into account whether diplomats understand affect diplomatic limits upon their behaviour, and in what ways. If the constraints behaviour, presumably they would also affect the results of negotiated bargaining that takes place. While many types of constraints present themselves for study, and some, such as in recent years, domestic political structure, have arguably become more important in this article have been norms, rules, and convergent emphasised can and should guide that these developments argument Schelling's to promote accommodation should receive empirical working study. diplomats takes its cues from norms, negotiated Perhaps, as Schelling recommends, bargaining able to ignore or downplay interests, even when it is potentially rules, and convergent interests. the independent rules and interests diminish importance of more to and it confine On the other hand, bargaining, predictable paths. negotiated cues not from take their and norms, rules, may convergent negotiating diplomats interests. This would be more probable when normative and convergence elements as dependent variable are weaker. It is argued here that the significance of diplomacy or to some to negotiated in this context not in relation is greatest bargaining them. Then the norms, those most


and international



of diplomatic behaviour, but instead when norms and rules are superceded model clear-cut and respected. The logic is that when international norms are strong, there to circumvent occasions. is relatively little need for diplomacy we have played up the differences and analytical tensions between Although on one hand, and norms and rules, on the other, in practice negotiated bargaining, the other. As Harold Saunders and Robert neither is likely to fully overshadow for negotiated is often encouraged Jervis have noted, hard bargaining advantage as in the when norms and rules provide a well-established framework, diplomatic concert. And relatively unstable periods, such as the nineteenth century great-power Wars and the superpower Cold War rivalry, classical period prior to the Napoleonic were not without norms.52 A more difficult issue is that independent and dependent are illuminated by investigating similar elements, behaviour aspects of diplomatic for and the diplo search and the norms, influence, constraints, leverage including as Kennan. We have noted that matic 'cushion of safety' highlighted by diplomacy can to the decision of about whether variable illuminate governments independent with allies and adversaries. is commitments Furthermore, diplomacy as is if basis of constitutes the it deception. Diplomacy highlighted independent to international variable when governments upon capitalise dependent regimes when their hard relative and and for constraints advantage, they employ bargain those of other states as sources of political leverage for the same purpose. These are particularly in light of the contemporary it appears, tendencies significant, defect from of international regimes. proliferation and convergent bargaining between As between negotiated states, it is doubtful about the whether one can be adequately understood without making assumptions can be studied on the assumption that certain other. The dynamics of negotiation norms are given. Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye have argued, for international which the ability of some that by they mean sensitivity interdependence, example, of others, 'can provide the basis states to capitalise on the dependence constraints influence only when the rules and norms in effect can be taken for significant political cannot be understood, they for granted'.53 The full effects of this interdependence term in the political bargaining 'the "translation" without what note, examining they and Nye process'.54 We propose here that this bargaining process, which Keohane and convergent did not study, will be affected by the balance between negotiated the relative importance of one type of bargaining being inversely related bargaining,
to the other.



Compare Hoffmann Praeger, Even

range of views exists on the importance the neorealist view in Theory of International in 'International Systems and International 1965), pp. 88-122.

of norms Politics, Law',

in the Soviet-American Cold War. pp. 170ff, with that of Stanley in The State of War (New York:

norms favourable to revolution weakened if it is conceded that the modern diplomatic it remains to be explained how the 'almost continuous warfare' noted by Craig classical diplomacy, norms in the classical period classical diplomatic and George p. 16) permitted (Force and Statecraft, to arise. and Joseph O. Keohane 18. Emphasis added. S. Nye Jr, Power and Interdependence (Boston, MA: Little, Brown,



1977), p. 54 Ibid.