by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column at National Review Online focuses on the contempt President Obama’s policies are generating at home and abroad.
The common bond among the various elements of the failed Obama foreign policy — from reset with Putin to concessions to the Iranians — is a misreading of human nature. The so-called Enlightened mind claims that the more rationally and deferentially one treats someone pathological, the more likely it is that he will respond and reform — or at least behave. The medieval mind, within us all, claims the opposite is more likely to be true.
Read Gerhard Weinberg’s A World at Arms or Richard Overy’s 1939, for an account of the negotiations preceding World War II, and you will find that an underappreciated theme emerges: the autocratic accentuation of the human tendency to interpret concession and empathy not as magnanimity to be reciprocated, but rather as weakness to be exploited or as a confession of culpability worthy of contempt. …
… The most important characteristic of a sound diplomat and negotiator is the acknowledgment of this sad human characteristic, which to some degree is innate in us all. It was often said during the Cold War that the Soviet hegemonists would rather negotiate with right-wingers than liberals, apparently on the premise that those they could not bully they respected, and those they could bully they felt only contempt for. It reminds me of a minor Chinese official who once told me that she thought Obama must be a master of intrigue; otherwise, she could not believe a leader would so frequently neglect his own country’s strategic interests.