[eDebate] Email Conversation with Chester Crocker About T-QPQ

Kade Olsen kade.olsen
Wed Feb 27 20:39:36 CST 2008


Given "definition intent" debate, Caroline Harkins emailed Crocker, Here is
the conversation:

Caroline,

you have asked an interesting and somewhat unusual question. The answer
is that a diplomatic strategy such as CE cannot become formal or
explicit without risking getting dragged into the negotiation of an
international understanding or agreement, a treacherous path and one
that could have produced months of lawyerly haggling over words and
interpretations. The conditionality was informal in another sense, too.
If this strategy failed or collapsed in recrimination, the 'other side'
could readily imagine what might replace it. In other words, there was
an implicit good cop, bad cop aspect to the approach we took when
dealing with Pretoria.
Most important to grasp, however, is that CE was a regional diplomatic
strategy focused - in sequential terms - on addressing southern Africa's
regional conflicts first, and then on its internal ones. The logic was
to engage with the broadest range of regional actors in order to wind
down regional conflicts. So, your question is too narrow - we were not
applying CE only to South Africa or to its govt. These issues are
discussed extensively in High Noon in Southern Africa.

hope this helps.

best wishes.

CAC

Caroline A. Harkins wrote:
> Dr. Crocker,
>
> I am a policy debater at Dartmouth College and the current debate
> topic focuses on constructive engagement and U.S. Middle East policy.
>
> Given your considerable expertise and personal experience with
> constructive engagement in South Africa, I was wondering if you could
> resolve a few questions I have regarding some ambiguities in the
> historical literature on engagement.
>
> In your 1989 Foreign Affairs article entitled "Southern Africa: Eight
> Years Later," you wrote that the U.S. policy of constructive
> engagement with South Africa was conditional:
>
> "Regarding South Africa, constructive engagement was by definition a
> conditional concept: in exchange for Pretoria's cooperation on
> achieving Namibia's independence, we would work to restructure the
> independence settlement to address our shared interest in reversing
> the Soviet-Cuban adventure in Angola; in exchange for reduced
> rhetorical flagellation and minor adjustments in certain bilateral
> fields (e.g., civilian export controls), we would hold Pretoria to its
> self-proclaimed commitment to domestic reform. There would be a change
> of tone toward reciprocity and even-handedness. But there would be no
> change in basic policy parameters on such matters as the U.S.
> opposition to South African apartheid laws and institutions or
> bilateral security ties -- no "rewriting of the past 20 years of U.S.
> diplomacy," as the 1980 article put it -- in the absence of
> fundamental internal change."
>
> When you state that U.S. policy was "by definition a conditional
> concept," do you mean that there were direct conditions placed on the
> government of South Africa?
>
> If so, were those conditions made explicit to the government of South
> Africa. To clarify, for example, would you argue that there was a
> formal quid pro quo with the government, such that there were stated
> incentives that could be provided or denied based on compliance with
> specific U.S. demands? Or was the "conditional concept" of the policy
> informal?
>
> Thank you for your time and consideration. Any information that you
> could provide on this question would be thoroughly appreciated.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Caroline Harkins

-- 
Chester A. Crocker
James R. Schlesinger Professor of Strategic Studies
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Intercultural Center Room 801
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C. 20057
Phone: (202) 687-5074
Fax: (202) 687-2315
Email: crockerc at georgetown.edu





Caroline - I have no problem provided you post both your question and my
response. The reason is that most people assume CE is a strategy for
dealing with one regime that is troubled, isolated, evil, odious,
authoritarian, illegal or whatever. Since South Africa was/is the
dominant power in the region, people ignored the regional point - we
were seeking to engage all those parties that would reciprocate our
diplomatic initiative. In addition, the South African government took
the words 'CE' and proclaimed that the US was engaging with it, a
self-serving distortion. Feel free to post this comment as well if you
like.

Sincerely,

CAC

Caroline A. Harkins wrote:
> Dr. Crocker,
>
> Thank you so much for rapid and thorough response. Given the
> importance of this subject to the debate community's discussion and
> understanding of constructive engagement, would you mind if I shared
> your explanation with other policy debaters interested in this subject
> on our email listserv?
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Caroline Harkins

-- 
Chester A. Crocker
James R. Schlesinger Professor of Strategic Studies
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Intercultural Center Room 801
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C. 20057
Phone: (202) 687-5074
Fax: (202) 687-2315
Email: crockerc at georgetown.edu
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