Saturday, February 26, 2011
Barack Obama 2012: Diplomacy Secrets. Mikhail Kryzhanovsky, KGB
1. Use secret visits (send the National Security Adviser) if the international problem is complex and important — in this way you don’t depend on media and public opinion. Afterwards you can talk, if it was a success.
2. If presidents like to drink with each other, they are ready to deal with each other.
3. Avoid negotiating on major issues at the end of the day, when your energy is low.
4. Negotiate smart, watch your initiatives. The more you tell about your position, the less your partner will tell you about himself, and the higher price you’ll pay. Diplomacy is all about money and the essence of any negotiations is the price range.
5. Any information should be exchanged as a part of a compromise and not merely given away.
6. Always talk less than necessary. Concentrate on facts and never tell other person about feelings (or your family and medical problems). Don’t interrupt others, try to understand what they really want and if they try to manipulate you. Also, resist giving in to interruptions until you have completed your thoughts – “Just a moment, I haven’t finished”. Use Taleyran approximation – if it’s difficult for you to speak up, try to make just one diplomatic statement. If they press you, insist on moving this questions to experts. And use indirect language such as “It looks like” or “You see situation from a very special angle”.
7. No negative emotions - strong emotions indicate weak nerves. Realize that there might be other issues motivating the other person’s behavior and never take things personally.
8. Stop self-limiting behaviors, such as smiling too much, nodding too much, tilting your head or dropping your eyes in response to other person’s gaze. Speak I normal conversational volume, don’t scream and don’t whisper, either, as you won’t be taken seriously.
9. Take a problem-solving approach to conflict, and try to see the other person as your collaborator rather than your opposition. You’d better postpone negotiations than allow them to break down.
10. Fix all questions and don’t be in a rush to answer any of them.
11. The slower you talk, the more confident you are.
12. Never ask straight questions.
13. It’s important to know what questions and when you have to ask. Start with an “invitation” question that does not need a definite answer but opens up the discussion, like: “No matter what reporters say, we’ll start negotiating for arms control.” Proceed with “intelligence gathering” questions, like: “Are you going to abide by our last agreement on the withdrawal of military forces or do we have other options?” Go to “expertise” questions, like: “It’s 5000 soldiers, right? ”
There’s a difference between expertise and straight questions - straight question are like: “Will you sign the treaty?” and these have to be avoided because you’ll get no straight answer right away. Finish with a closing question, like: “I think that’s what we intend to sign? Next time we can start from here.” Or you can press your partner: “Let’s not lose this last opportunity, eh?”
14. Explain your negative attitude in a smart way: give half the information and continue, depending on your partner’s reaction. If you can’t accept his proposal, tell him that the experts may look into it again and come to agreement. If your partner is not a complete idiot he’ll understand his proposal is unacceptable (because the experts have already done all they could). But if he is an idiot, he’ll agree to “kill” his proposals by passing them to the experts.
You start to lose momentum if you start to defend yourself.
15. Stop (postpone) negotiations the moment you start to lose or you could end up in a total failure and that could be used by opposition back home.
16. If you bring ideology - try to win. If you bring national interests, try to find compromise. Be flexible — that’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
17. Don’t make aggressive statements for the media, no matter what.
18. Respect is half a victory, but you usually win when your partner is scared. Avoid open confrontation and respond to personal attacks with humor.
19. Watch the military experts - they are always ready to “push” you. No arms agreement can win ratification without backing from Joint Chiefs, because Congress needs and trusts their expertise, and their disapproval is a strong tool against you in case you ignore their advice. So, think three times before you appoint Joint Chiefs.
20. Take negotiations on the trade deficit very seriously — they often take you nowhere and have zero results as your partner wants you to change your attitude to him completely as well as your international economic policy, while you expect the same favor from him. You can influence one partner but you can’t very easily influence the international system.
21. After you come back home do some positive advertising through the media — in such a way you influence other presidents and future negotiations. If the negotiations resulted in a treaty, “sell” it to the Senate for approval.
22. Negotiation no-nos:- don’t be confused if your partner threatens you — that means he needs your cooperation. Don’t enter into negotiation right away with high demands.
- don’t touch the toughest issues first. Don’t assume — that’s a sign of weakness.
- don’t hesitate to pause or take a break.
- never say “no” to your partner’s ideas — rather, pack them up in one “package” with your proposals. The Reykjavik American-Soviet summit (1986) on intermediate-range nuclear missiles is a perfect example of a “package”. The U.S. President Reagan wanted to include human rights, Jewish immigration and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in the talks. The USSR President Michail Gorbachev said “no”, arms control only. Then Gorbachev attacked – he wanted to put American Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) in one “package” with eliminating intermediate-range nuclear forces in Europe and reducing NATO tactical weapons and Warsaw Pact conventional forces. Reagan kissed him “good-bye”.