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169 6 FINAL THOUGHTS 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 tried to trace the reasons for this parallel bias,inquiring into ways of rectifying the slanted emphasis. At the same time, a major portion of this book has been devoted to discussing the conditions for successful inducements, if only the political obstacles to their use could be overcome. Conditions must be propitious on both the demand and the supply side, and this chapter will summarize my conclusions, add a few observations, and indicate promising areas of future inquiry. The Limits of Negative Pressures A strong justification for lopsided reliance on negative pressures when dealing with adversaries would rest on the effectiveness of such measures, eliminating any need to consider alternatives. To the extent that the aim is to alter the objectives that stand behind an adversary’s policies, however, that justification fails dismally. Neither military coercion nor economic sanctions can boast impressive 170 THE LOGIC OF POSITIVE ENGAGEMENT achievements. Although the former sometimes attains its aims, the prospects of success are not impressive. Threats rarely evoke their desired response, while the actual deployment of military force abroad produces mixed results: the odds of an outright success being, on the basis of the evidence examined here, no better than even. It must also be appreciated that the human and material toll of armed interventions may be,and generally is,high,and the costs must be weighed against the expected benefits. In some cases, as with North Korea and Iran, the probable costs are so high as to make their use an unacceptable option, independently of the outlook for achieving immediate goals. The record of economic sanctions is weaker still. If policy or regime change is the aim, the only possible argument is whether they fail virtually all the time or just most of the time. Sanctions can even be counterproductive—increasing the adversary’s incentive to behave in the objectionable manner. We have outlined the reasons why the regime’s domestic support can benefit from external economic pressures, and, while, in the long run, sustained economic deprivations tends to undermine a regime’s position, this may take a very long time—inviting the question of whether the tendency to discard policies that could attain their end faster and at lesser cost can be justified. In any case, the harm done in the short to medium term by the punitive policies cannot be assumed to compensate for the fact that, in the fullness of time, they may attain their original goal. In some cases, negative pressures target the other side’s capacity to do harm, not its priorities; where this is the case, a different judgment on their effectiveness may be necessary. For example, it is apparent that the sanctions endured by Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War made it difficult for Saddam Hussein to pursue a nuclear weapons program (Lopez and Cortright 2004). Yet, as the examples of North Korea and Iran demonstrate, it may not be possible to control capabilities , whereas, if intentions are modified, capabilities become less dangerous. In a considerable majority of instances, in any case, the stated aim regards intentions and priorities, not capabilities, and, here, no encouraging conclusions are justified . Under the circumstances, other explanations for the prevalence of negative pressures are needed, and we have considered how the lopsided preferences could be accounted for, both with regard to policymakers and academics. Positive Incentives and U.S. Politics From the political system’s perspective, the predilection for threats and punishments has been shaped around a path-dependent process whose roots in a critical juncture are traceable to the initial years of the cold war. Subsequently , this predilection has been generalized to nations other than the Soviet FINAL THOUGHTS 171 Union but also considered America’s foes, with the assumption that the proper response in such cases is punitive and coercive. It seems that the process has been principally driven by...


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