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Postre: Economic Sanctions and Diplomacy (Tim Brown, US) (John Eipper, USA, 04/26/10 5:47 pm)
Bienvenido Macario wrote on 26 April: I'd like to ask Tim Brown if he could give us the different stages of negotiations and diplomacy leading to a peaceful resolution typical of an international crisis or heaven forbid an armed conflict. Tim Brown responds: An example in which, for good reason, I do not name the protagonists. Two Latin American countries had been trying via confidential negotiations for many years to find a peaceful resolution to competing claims to several tiny, uninhabited islands that might have very valuable natural resources in their adjacent waters. Then one day word of these negotiations leaked. This vaulted the matter out of the shadows of diplomacy and into the glaring lights of the public political arena. At that point it became a matter of nationalistic pride, not private discussion, as jingoists on both sides began saying with ever-increasing passion that "we must never cede a single a precious inch of our sacred soil to anyone. We must defend it to the death." As public passions increased, the governments on both sides felt more and more under pressure to act until finally one started to mobilize its armed forces, at which point the other began to do the same. Then military units began to move towards each other's border as third parties, including the US, desperately scrambled to find a way to defuse the situation. Hopes for this continued and arguments that in fact neither country wanted to go to war so there wouldn't be one evaporated when they started moving body bags up to the front. Now a matter of national pride, neither government felt it could back down without being overthrown for doing so until, at the very last minute, a solution was found. Although neither country wanted war, neither could back down to the other nor to a third party such as the US or even UN in the face of threats from the other. But both could, and did, back down to a third party with sufficient moral authority to let them do so without losing face--the Pope. The lesson is clear, at least to me.