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

Dr. Joe Bellon debate.gsu
Thu Feb 28 11:47:08 CST 2008


Nothing wrong with e-mailing topic authors, nothing wrong with posting the
results.

I would, however, like to sound a cautionary note against drawing broad
conclusions from this particular e-mail. From time to time, we seem to make
decisions as a community about the truth or falsehood of a topicality issue
based on our perceptions of "consensus" reached on edebate.

I don't think the Crocker e-mails are aff cards (even apart from the
question of whether we should be in the practice of reading e-mails in
debate rounds). JP has laid out a couple of the arguments on this point. I
think when Crocker says that there was nothing formal or explicit he means
that there was never a written document. This does not mean that there was
no condition of any kind. If CE was unconditional, how can we explain his
discussion of what would happen if CE "failed?" CE clearly had a specific
goal of producing change in the target country, and it seems problematic to
allow affs to claim the nature of that change can be found in the penumbra
of their advantages.

Furthermore, If you read his e-mail as saying that unconditional affs are
topical, it seems to me those affs have to explicitly keep rollback on the
table. Crocker argues that part of the strategy of CE was that the target
country knew that if it didn't do what the US implicitly wanted then we
would change our policy and start being hardline (his "good cop-bad cop"
comment). Again, it is obvious from this discussion that CE had a specific
outcome as a goal. If the plan were modeled off Crocker's description, it
would include the proviso that failure on the part of the target country to
meet a specific condition would result in reversal of the plan.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note in the other e-mail in the thread
that Crocker claims CE means you have to engage every country in the region.
Of course, if you're willing to have a plan that engages every country in
the region maybe QPQ isn't the worst of your worries...

Dr. Joe Bellon
Director of Debate
Georgia State University

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 11:27 PM, Brent Culpepper <
brentonculpepper at gmail.com> wrote:

> I agree w/ JP.  Great Research.  It's always quite interesting to see just
> how much our topic interpretations differ from what the original authors
> meant by a term of art.  It's part of debate - largely a good part I might
> add.  We should be doing research up until the end of the topic.  It is what
> makes debate interesting and evolving.  There is nothing questionable about
> this post.
>
> brent
>
>
> On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 9:57 PM, Jean-Paul Lacy <lacyjp at wfu.edu> wrote:
>
> >
> > 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: 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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