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

Jean-Paul Lacy lacyjp
Wed Feb 27 21:57:51 CST 2008


Great research!

My thoughts:

So, the conditionality of Constructive Engagement with South Africa was 
informal and implicit, & the old Crocker article doesn't define 
Constructive Engagement as a "formal quid pro quo," nor does his definition 
really apply to Constructive Engagement toward a single government.

Do the texts of Crocker's email & his "definition" from 1989 make *purely* 
unconditional moves topical?

Maybe not, unless they are communicated to informally imply a reciprocal 
"good cop, bad cop" relationship.

I don't know if "modern" plan-writing is up to Crocker's challenge, given 
the way we shy away from articulating broad, strategically ambiguous 
foreign policy goals as plan texts...

This is probably another good example of where we haven't really "caught 
up" with the literature and instead keep trying to make foreign policy with 
so much concreteness that it really misses the specific nuances of diplomacy.

--JP
lacyjp at wfu.edu



At 09:39 PM 2/27/2008, Kade Olsen wrote:
>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: <mailto:crockerc at georgetown.edu>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: <mailto:crockerc at georgetown.edu>crockerc at georgetown.edu
>
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