Friday, December 08, 2006

Take it outside and play with it: a very short introduction to diplomacy and negotiation for dreamers

Let’s not get too fancy. Here are a couple of definitions from The American Heritage dictionary, fourth edition.
diplomacy: 1. The art and practice of conducting foreign relations. 2. Tact and skill in dealing with people.

negotiate: 1. To confer with another to come to terms.

The Iraq Study Group advocated opening diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran. This rubs President Bush and his following the wrong way. President Bush wants the Iranian regime to concede its negotiating points before negotiations start.

In a perfect world, we would all agree about substantive issues and live harmoniously and blissfully in a heaven on earth with no need of for negotiation and diplomacy. To all the childish dreamers I say keep on dreaming, but take it outside and play with it and don’t get in the way of the big kids. To the big kids I say look at the dictionary definitions. Negotiating does not mean conceding all your issues to your disputants. It means talking and trying to find common ground for agreement that mutually satisfies both parties in a dispute. Good negotiators use diplomacy to enhance their chances of success in negotiation.

Let’s leave aside whether Syria and Iran are good or evil and their political goals and motives. Since President Bush wants Syria and Iran to concede all their issues as a condition for negotiation, one wonders exactly what issues will be on the table for discussion should negotiations take place after the leaders of Iran take leave of their senses by conceding their negotiating points.

I don’t need a lecture on Stalin, Hitler, and other famous tyrants. I agree that what you negotiate is important, but that you negotiate seems beyond dispute.

I see there are still some dreamers, such as President Bush, inside the house. Please, dreamers take it outside and play with it, for the big kids have work to do.

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