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Chapter VI MAXIMIZING CONCILIATION: REASSURING THE CHALLENGER THE SECURITY OF status quo states is endangered not only by revisionist, aggressive opponents, but also by those with largely benign intentions. The rivalry and its hazards are real, although neither side is intent upon threatening the other. The contender’s defensive needs bring on, continue , or exacerbate conflictual relations. Whether it be done confidently or out of desperation, he builds up his military forces, extends his sway, and relies upon some combination of swaggering, terrorism, and wars. A nation’s security can thus be assured by reassuring powerful and weak contenders alike that they are not, in fact, the focus of threatening ambitions , that the guardian state is not animated by hostile or expansionist objectives and that its military configuration is not distinctly offensive. Up to this point there is no divergence among hawks, doves, and eagles in principle. However, hawks regularly deny benign motivations on the part of those who challenge an evidently status quo America. Reassurance is thus variously irrelevant, fruitless, counterproductive, and decidedly dangerous. Doves are convinced of the contender’s safety-first imperative, defensive motivations, if not also of his beleaguered selfperceptions . Continuous efforts are thus essential to demonstrate our nonthreatening aims and to highlight the prevalence of shared interests. Eagles maintain an agnostic position with regard to intentions. On the oft borne out possibility that they are of a defensive kind, reassurance becomes advantageous or even crucial. It is most effectively pursued by way of minimally activist policies. In assessing the effectiveness of activist policies of reassurance this chapter fully accepts the underlying premise of conciliatory internationalism . The comparisons are developed on the latter’s high ground, its understanding of the challenger’s conflictual behavior as deriving from vulnerability and fear, “needs and weaknesses,” rather than from ambitions and a “search for opportunity.”1 He is presumed to be basically mistrustful of America’s aims and convinced that our capabilities and those of our allies are overtly threatening. The opponent may also subscribe to the positional goals of greater respect and influence. But just as revisionist aims predominate over positional aims in hawkish interpretations of intentions , in dovish ones—and on this chapter’s premises—defensive concerns are taken to be far weightier than any other goals. MAXIMIZING CONCILIATION 143 Eagles, like many doves, appreciate that reassurance is often an inordinately difficult exercise. Defensive anxieties and needs may derive from hard-to-dispel beliefs and unchangeable realities: the guardian’s past and current actions, the rivals’ conflicting interests, the opponent’s geostrategic vulnerabilities, military disadvantages, and economic weaknesses, and from the distortions brought on by worst-case thinking, ideological convictions, cultural biases, and psychological tendencies. There are also the common difficulties in communicating any important messages—the irrelevant “noise” and complexities involved in sending and receiving them. It is “hard enough to communicate straightforward and gross threats,”2 and allaying the rival’s suspicions and anxieties could well constitute a yet more formidable undertaking. A good deal of “discrepant” information must not only get through to the opponent, it needs to be sufficiently persuasive to overcome the resistance of preexisting convictions . Moreover, it could well be harder to influence the mind-set of an insecure than an ambitiously revisionist state; for potential losses tend to be more salient than possible gains of comparable magnitude.3 Thus, for a contender who is “motivated by what he perceives as defensive concerns , the incentive to use force in order to avoid loss may be even stronger and more urgent than an offensively motivated state’s desire to achieve gains.”4 Working on these premises, conciliatory internationalism gets down to the activist and interactive work of a great project, of doing all that is possible to create a hardy climate of predictability, trust, shared interests , accommodation, and nonthreatening competitiveness. Its realization depends upon an array of public declarations to external and internal audiences, informal discussions, high-level meetings, negotiating initiatives and efforts, formal and informal understandings, treaties, and regime building. Agreements are to grow out of some combination of evenhanded proposals, mutual compromises, one-sided concessions, hard bargaining, side payments, and technical labors. In their substance they address territorial issues, limits on strategic and conventional weapons, confidence-building measures, troop deployments and movements, rules of conflict avoidance, crisis management procedures, verification and compliance arrangements, constraints on the use of force, arms exports, and trade flows. While there is obviously much to be said for conciliatory engagement, there are no a priori...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400821815
Related ISBN
9780691029214
MARC Record
OCLC
191952687
Pages
352
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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