December 20, 2003

Libyan WMD: Negotiating Tactics

I don't know if they do things in the UK as they do in the US but reading over Steven Den Beste's analysis of the Libyan WMD renunciation process gave me the feeling that I've seen this before. Finally, about halfway through the article it hit me. They were acting like a traditional car dealership would in the US. The person who you actually can talk to is never 'authorized' to give any solid promises but acts as a runner and a filter to the 'real' negotiator who accepts or vetoes offers, most of the time giving negative responses until near the end when he makes an appearance to sprinkle the holy water and a smile at the consummation of the deal.

It is a specialized form of good cop/bad cop applied more to contract negotiations than legal interrogations and it is very efficient at creating an unlevel playing field where large concessions on the one side are matched with small concessions on the other. The game is eventually ruined by the creation of a crop of car buyers who are educated and understand all the tricks and simply refuse to play the 'car buying game'.

This is where the analogy breaks down. Libya is not a car buyer and the Coalition of the Willing is not a dealership, except perhaps in passports to the Functioning Core.

The nature of the game thus lives somewhat between good cop/bad cop (where the bad cop is often the brooding, threatening presence in the room, this role being played by the US armed forces) and the dealership (where the "manager" is the absent god who can putatively make decisions but won't negotiate directly, this role played by the 'scary' GW Bush) models.

Hopefully, this successful model will show a viable way out for the rest of the Axis of Evil, both for the remaining named portions (N. Korea & Iran) as well as those other countries that are exactly like them but were never publicly put on the list (as Libya was).

In the end, achieving Functioning Core status is the goal. Participate in the global economy, create a multitude of international connections between your citizens and the rest of the world, and empower them sufficiently that these internationally dependent economic players must be given a seat at the domestic political decision-making table. Once enough players are unwilling to destroy their own foreign holdings and power positions, you're no longer a threat no matter how disagreeable you may be on a particular issue cough Germany cough or even string of issues cough France cough.

Posted by TMLutas at December 20, 2003 09:17 PM