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Diplomacy Works!

August 5, 2009

What would you say if pure diplomacy–without any threat of war or sanctions if the other party didn’t give in–with one of the U.S.’ most feared “enemies” really worked? One might then conclude that diplomacy without preconditions is an effective tool to be used even in some of the direst circumstances.

That is exactly what happened yesterday when former President Bill Clinton went to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American journalists. Today, those journalists are home with their families and the U.S./N. Korea relationship looks a tiny bit more hopeful. Bill Clinton went to North Korea without any intention or even ability to threaten Kim Jong-il with force if he didn’t hand over the American journalists. Instead, he went to talk and listen.

What if the U.S. used this tactic with other “enemies”? What if instead of threatening Iran with further sanctions (which seems to be what Congress is determined to do), we gave diplomacy a chance? What if we tried serious negotiation with Taliban groups? I don’t think the U.S. has been seriously committed to negotiations in either of these situations. Even in North Korea, Mr. Clinton’s trip marks the first time the U.S. has been committed to negotiations there since Madeline Albright went to Pyongyang in 2000.

Maybe we should change John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” to “Give Diplomacy a Chance”…Not quite as catchy, but it’s effective!


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