January 22, 2013
The Value and Values of Diplomacy: Moral Psychology and the Search for Security in 1920's Europe
In his presentation for the Strauss Center on January 22nd 2013, Professor Brian Rathbun, from the University of Southern California, presented his recent work on diplomacy in international relations. Rathbun argued that the current field of international relations has not sufficiently examined diplomacy, and his work is an effort to fill that gap in international relations theory. Rathbun attributed the lack of focus on diplomacy to the focus of international relations on macro level theories like realism. He explained that in these macro theories the individual diplomats become simply a transmission belt for the underlying forces that determine the result of diplomatic efforts. These theories support the opinion that the strong do as they will while the weak do as they must.
Rathbun countered this view by arguing that there exist certain events and results that were only possible through diplomatic interaction. These events are ones where the strong did not do as well as they should have done, and the weak did better than they should have done. Rathbun explained that these outcomes are a product of the interaction between different negotiating styles. He identified three negotiation styles: coercive bargaining, reasoned dialog, and pragmatic statecraft. Coercive bargaining utilizes threats or leverage in an environment devoid of trust. Reasoned dialog is characterized by an honest and frank discussion of interests which leads to a good faith effort to reach an agreement. Lastly, pragmatic statecraft is a negotiation that focuses on achieving tangible long term gains where the diplomats attempt to show consideration and understanding to the other side in an instrumental fashion. Rathbun then went on to explain how these diplomatic styles are a result of the psychological factors of social motivation and epistemic motivation, and how a government’s position on the political spectrum can predict negotiating behavior. How these negotiation styles matchup between negotiating parties determine the possible outcomes of a diplomatic action.
Rathbun finished his lecture by looking at Europe in the 1920’s. He argued that Germany was able to gain significant concessions from Great Britain and France in the aftermath of World War One even though it was in a position of weakness. In this case, Germany was able to lighten post-war restrictions and shorten the time of Allied occupation. Germany was led by a pragmatist, and the French and British had leaders that supported a reasoned dialog between parties. This combination of negotiation styles led to a diplomatic result that would not have been predicted by the power balance between the three parties. Watch the lecture below if you would like to learn more.
Brian Rathbun is the author of Trust in International Cooperation: International Security Institutions, Domestic Politics and American Multilateralism (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Partisan Interventions: European Party Politics and Peace Enforcement in the Balkans (Cornell University Press, 2004) as well as articles in International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the European Journal of International Relations, Security Studies and other journals. His most recent book manuscript, The Value and Values of Diplomacy, provides an account of how diplomacy matters in international affairs. Brian received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California since 2008. He is also the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award.