Effective Diplomacy in the 21st Century
By Alex Kizer, Senior Associate, OIC
In the Bush administration, a popular theme to international problem solving was the so-called “Carrot & Stick” approach. Perhaps overly reliant on this approach, the US has been too quick to use its stick: employing armed force, sanctions and political isolation. Zero-sum diplomacy always amplifies the likelihood of violence.
The US policy has been, in plain language, “If you do not do as we say you will be punished”. This approach is based on coercion and control and, to put it bluntly, bullying.
It is necessary to eliminate past-based or pre-existing resentment before countries in conflict can demonstrate the essential willingness to negotiate and cooperate. Taking responsibility for harm done or “cleaning the slate” accomplishes what the blame-game is terminally unable to: working together constructively.
A leader who does not demonstrate a true willingness to develop skills that will build relationships rather than break them, is not leading in the direction of peace and cooperation. Egos and self-righteousness tend to run rampant in political circles.
For governments that are habitually in conflict, it is urgent that they take a far closer look at their policies and actions and stop looking at their bi-lateral relations through filters of victim and victimizer. In depth self-scrutiny universally reveals that we all victimize ourselves.
Too few see this and it is a grave source of misery for mankind. We need to get beyond focusing on the misconduct of other governments in past and present terms. We need to look at ourselves with far greater honesty.
As breakdowns in relating and communicating always spiral into antagonism, it is important for all foreign policymakers to recognize that they must re-think their policies and actions before our international relationships become unsalvageable.
Win-lose strategies are a myth. They don’t exist. In the long run they always end up with lose-lose results. Humanity can only survive when the strategy is based on a win-win philosophy.
Egos, ideologies, bi-lateral competition and partisan politics have no place when so many are suffering and so many of us have everything to lose.
For diplomacy to be far more effective than it is, those formulating and executing foreign policies need to learn the skill of relating to and communicating with people whose interests are very different than their own.
This may include people who are angry, frustrated and upset with the US. An extraordinarily useful tool to aid US leaders, particularly in the executive branch and in the State Department, would be for them to participate in powerful transformational communication programs that are readily available today worldwide.
Such short yet potent programs are widely available through private educational companies within the human potential movement. We must urge our government officials to participate in these breakthrough programs.The issues at stake are far too numerous and globally life threatening.
Much is at stake for too many and time is not on our side. While wars write history books, only moments of effective communication write legacies, build great leaders and great nations, brick by brick.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals as well as corporations have benefitted tremendously from such programs. They have the remarkable ability to elicit our limitless potential to relate, communicate and solve seemingly insurmountable people problems.