Thursday, May 29, 2008

Obama's Global Diplomacy

Mediator extraordinaire Ken Cloke paints an optimistic picture of what international diplomacy and global dispute resolution strategies might look like in an Obama administration:

Consider a key element in the Obama campaign and one of the key questions for many voters – should the US negotiate with its enemies?

Most mediators, I think, would immediately answer, “Yes.” We understand that negotiation is based on differences; that negotiating doesn’t mean agreeing; that negotiating draws people away from violent alternatives; and that negotiation is preferable to power-based solutions such as war and terrorism. Notice, however, how use of the word “enemy” automatically builds into the question an assumption of implacable hostility and an implication that negotiation must fail. To reverse this assumption and consider not just whether, but how we should negotiate with our opponents, we need to answer a number of questions.

Those questions, which Cloke parses brilliantly, are:

1. How does effective diplomacy and negotiation differ from "appeasement?"
2. How can America best negotiate our future?
3. What does capable international diplomacy look like - what are positive

He concludes:

As mediators, we need to recognize that we also are global citizens, and responsible by virtue of our knowledge and experience for helping to save the planet. We need to weigh in on the important issues of the day that directly touch on our expertise, including not just who we negotiate with, but how we negotiate and why. Without it, Obama and the perspective he represents may succumb to those who think patriotism requires war and the slaughter of innocents. The time to speak up is now.

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