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The Logic of Positive Engagement

Miroslav Nincic

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: Cornell University Press

Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. v-6

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pp. vii-viii

This book examines the promise and pitfalls of positive engagement (the use of diplomacy and material inducements) as a way of influencing the behavior of regimes considered threatening to the United States and the international community. My interest flows from the disappointing record of policies tilted toward...

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1. The Failures of External Coercion

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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...

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2. A Parallel Bias

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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...

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3. A Framework for Analysis

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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...

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4. Foundations of Success and Failure: Libya, Cuba, and Syria

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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...

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5. The Challenge of North Korea and Iran

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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...

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6. Final Thoughts

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pp. 169-185

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...


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pp. 187-203


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pp. 205-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780801463013
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801450068

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Series Title: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs