Friday, March 26, 2004

# Posted 2:26 AM by Patrick Belton  

SECRETARY POWELL gave the Kennan Lecture lecture last night which, unusually, rose above the Foggy Bottom drafting bureaucratese argot to lay out thoughtful suggestions for principles undergirding a hawkish diplomacy, and the relationship between power and authority:
Power has a reputation as well that walks before it into the future, affecting what others think about us and what their reactions will be to future events. America never looks for opportunities to exercise power except in defense of our vital interests and the vital interests of our allies. We don't use force just to burnish our reputation or to enhance our credibility. As every president knows, it's better, whenever possible, to let the reputation of power achieve policy goals rather than the use of power, especially military power itself. And it's diplomacy that deploys power's reputation to do this in the form of political influence. One of my predecessors and Madeleine's predecessors at the State Department, a great American by the name of Dean Acheson, captured this idea when he wrote that "influence is the shadow of power."

But there is no disagreement in principle about the relationship between power and persuasion in American diplomacy. Everyone who understands that power is necessary, but not always sufficient for foreign policy success knows, too, that force and authority aren't the same. Not all use of force is created equal in diplomatic terms. Others will grant authority to the use of force if it falls within bounds of justice and reason. Some have recently argued that Libya s recent decision to turn away from weapons of mass destruction is an interesting thing, but they see it in terms that remind me of an old beer commercial: "tastes great/less filling, tastes great/less filling." Did they do it because of force? Did they do it because of diplomacy?

And of course, in almost every situation I deal with, it's not either/or. Diplomacy isn't the opposite of force. Diplomacy without power is just naked pleading. Power without diplomacy is incomplete. Libya's change of heart, in my judgment, wouldn't have happened in the absence of American power as a backdrop. But policy success also required American and British skills at persuasion.

A second basic principle of diplomacy follows from the first: Policy success comes easier when more actors work with you to achieve it than work against you to prevent it.

One of diplomacy's main jobs is to arrange coalitions so that one's power and one's reputation are multiplied. The fact of power alone cannot do this because power repels as well as attracts. A wise diplomacy magnifies power's attractive quality by using power to benefit others as well as oneself.

Success in diplomacy is often most advantageous when it's incomplete.... Another way to put this principle is that an adversary needs an honorable path of escape if we're to achieve our main policy goals without using force.
I'd like to come back to comment more on this speech (the complete text is here) after my coffee, but for now what seems interesting is the middle ground this speech strikes, both defending, against the left, the legitimacy of using the shadow of power in negotiations, and against the right, the legitimacy of negotiations themselves.
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