The Logic of Positive Engagement

The Logic of Positive Engagement

Miroslav Nincic
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Logic of Positive Engagement
    Book Description:

    Recent American foreign policy has depended heavily on the use of negative inducements to alter the behavior of other states. From public browbeating through economic sanctions to military invasion, the last several presidents have chosen to use coercion to advance U.S. interests when dealing with adversaries. In this respect, as Miroslav Nincic notes, the United States differs from many of its closest allies: Canada has long maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba, and several of the European democracies have continued diplomatic engagement with governments that the United States considers pariah regimes. In The Logic of Positive Engagement, Nincic outlines the efficacy of and the benefits that can flow from positive rather than negative engagement.

    Nincic observes that threats and punishments may be gratifying in a symbolic sense, but that they haven't affected the longevity or the most objectionable policies of the regimes against which they are directed. Might positive inducements produce better results? Nincic examines two major models of positive inducements: the exchange model, in which incentives are offered in trade for altered behavior, and the catalytic model, in which incentives accumulate to provoke a thorough revision of the target's policies and priorities. He examines the record with regard to long-term U.S. relations with Cuba, Libya, and Syria, and then discusses the possibility that positive inducements might bring policy success to current relations with Iran and North Korea.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6301-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-31)

    In this book I aim to improve our understanding of the methods by which foreign policy objectives may be pursued, especially those that involve core national interests. I focus, in particular, on the value of positive inducements directed at regimes regarded as adversaries by the United States and as renegades by significant parts of the international community. Positive inducements are not expressions of beneficence, nor are they instruments of “soft” power, meant to entice others to identify with one’s policies by virtue of the moral authority one enjoys (Nye 2004). Positive inducements are tools of external leverage, designed to advance...

    (pp. 32-57)

    Since threats and punishments have not reliably advanced the nation’s foreign policy goals, their performance cannot account for their dominance. Nor, given the value of established approaches, can the academic disinclination to consider other strategies be explained by a presumption of their redundancy. We thus have to ask whether the predilection for negative pressures is rooted in circumstances unrelated to their practical value. Is it instead grounded in the dynamics by which policymaking and academic communities are driven? Although the bias operates with comparable force in both realms, its sources are not identical in the two, and each must be...

    (pp. 58-90)

    Even if a shift of strategy away from sticks and toward carrots were considered by anyone wishing to alter the behavior of another state, there is no a priori guarantee that this would advance the nation’s aims more successfully than punitive measures, and we need to grasp the circumstances that increase or decrease the outlook for effective engagement. This, in turn, requires an analytic framework within which to organize the empirical inquiry—a framework of concepts and propositions that helps identify the questions to be asked and from which hypotheses, to be confronted with the evidence of case studies, might...

    (pp. 91-126)

    Having described the limitations of coercive pressures, and having distinguished the purposes positive inducements may serve, the constraints on their use, and the conditions on which their effectiveness hinges, we now confront theory with observed reality—to gauge the analytic utility of the proposed conceptual framework and the accuracy of the predictions that flow from its hypotheses.

    The method guiding the empirical work follows the nature of the task at hand. A large data-analytic exercise would not suit our purpose, since the relevant universe restricts the number of countries or regimes we wish to study. Our analytic framework may have...

    (pp. 127-168)

    North Korea and Iran now top the list of states deemed a thorn in the side of the international community and of the United States in particular. The most serious issue is their relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons, as well as of a delivery capability that makes them a regional threat and, with the development of long-range rocketry, dangerous on an extended scale. A critical test of the value of positive inducements must involve their applicability to particularly stark threats, so this chapter will evaluate the circumstances under which they could discourage the most threatening aspects of Tehran’s and Pyongyang’s...

    (pp. 169-186)

    In this book I have considered the value of positive engagement as a strategy for altering the policies and priorities of regimes considered hostile to U.S. interests and, in some cases, to those of the international community as well. Until quite recently little consideration has been given to such strategies by those entrusted with the conduct of the nation’s external affairs. When contemplated, they have generally been considered an incidental appendage to a core policy of negative pressures. International relations scholarship has followed political practice with its focus on sticks rather than carrots as tools of foreign policy. I have...

  10. References
    (pp. 187-204)
  11. Index
    (pp. 205-212)