On Negotiation – and on Vacation

Before I head off into the mountains for a weekend of lean angles and contributing to global warming by converting gasoline into relaxation, let me point you to an oped in today’s NYT:

In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy expressed in two eloquent sentences, often invoked by Barack Obama, a policy that turned out to be one of his presidency’s – indeed one of the cold war’s – most consequential: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy’s special assistant, called those sentences “the distinctive note” of the inaugural.

They have also been a distinctive note in Senator Obama’s campaign, and were made even more prominent last week when President Bush, in a speech to Israel’s Parliament, disparaged a willingness to negotiate with America’s adversaries as appeasement. Senator Obama defended his position by again enlisting Kennedy’s legacy: “If George Bush and John McCain have a problem with direct diplomacy led by the president of the United States, then they can explain why they have a problem with John F. Kennedy, because that’s what he did with Khrushchev.”

But Kennedy’s one presidential meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, suggests that there are legitimate reasons to fear negotiating with one’s adversaries. Although Kennedy was keenly aware of some of the risks of such meetings – his Harvard thesis was titled “Appeasement at Munich” – he embarked on a summit meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961, a move that would be recorded as one of the more self-destructive American actions of the cold war, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.

Now, I’m on record as saying we should be talking to Iran. And I think Israel is right to talk to Syria.

But there are two things that must be kept in mind if we decide to do so: 1) it matters – a lot – what we say; and 2) it is important to understand that talking is not an end in itself, even though for some institutions, it is.

As David Blue put it well in the comments below, the danger is that we will “…fight to settle not win…” Settling is a good thing – when we get enough out of it to make the settlement worthwhile. If we decide we’ll settle for anything – well, then we will.

And it is critical that the other side sees that they have something to gain from settling – and something to lose from not settling – as well. When we talk about “Nixon in China”, we’re talking about the fact that only an extreme anti-Communitst hawk like Nixon could have made the rapproachment with China work – both because he needed to have the trust of suspicious Americans, and because China believed that settling was better than the alternatives – which include continued inconclusive negotiation.

If Obama is going to talk to Iran, or to Chavez, or to anyone whose interests and beliefs place them in strong conflict with us, he’d better keep those things in mind. Because the outcomes of a failed meeting can be quite concrete:

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna – of Kennedy as ineffective – was among them.

I’ll try and get something up for Memorial Day. But in case I don’t please take a quiet moment to thank those who died in the name of our country. And if you see someone abusing a soldier, kick them in the shins for me, will you?

30 thoughts on “On Negotiation – and on Vacation”

  1. This:

    And it is critical that the other side sees that they have something to gain from settling – and something to lose from not settling – as well.

    Is absolutely spot on. The only condition under which negotiations really work are when both sides realize this. It is the main point of contention and instability in Iraq at the moment, as each side works to convince the other that it still has fangs.

    I also think we should be talking to Iran, but only under those conditions. In fact, we have been talking to Iran, for about a year. Through 2007, there were various talks and high level meetings between the US and Iran. Not presidential level talks, but official, face to face talks none the less. It’s been in real, live, actual newspapers. We’ve been trying to set up a fourth round of talks for a while, but each side keeps shying away.

    That is one reason why Obama is hard to take seriously on this point– the Left is so bound up in the talks-as-strategic-goal mindset (rather than talks leading to a strategic goal) that, in currying their favor, Obama necessarily must sound like that. It makes it impossible for me to tell, except by guessing, whether he’s a member of that set, or just pandering to them.

    To be fair, that’s a reason it’s hard to take McCain seriously, as well, because large parts of his constituency can’t bear to hear him say anything remotely like “negotiations with Iran.” But, both McCain and Clinton have longer terms serving in government to help understand their thinking, and as much as it hurts my soul to admit this, it’s quite possible that this is the sort of thing Clinton might have picked up on as an observer in the White House. (Hurts my soul because, in general, I do not consider First Lady as job experience.)

  2. Negotiations are politics, and warfare is politics by other means. So it is a mistake to seperate negotiation from warfare, they must be taken as two sides of the same coin to be either effective or safe to employ, either one.

    Honestly, the Nixon analogy works because you can trust a Nixon to think in terms of the worst case scenario of the enemies _motivation._ This is critical.

    Just as mistaking the enemies objectives in battle is a recipe for disaster, so is mistaking his goals at the negotiating table.

    The problem I think this nation will have with Obama at the end of the day is that he is the champion of a movement that is more suspicious of our own motivations than Iran et al. That is not a trivial problem, that is a deal breaker.

    This is also what kept Arafat in power and committing atrocities (and continues with his heirs). When you sit down with someone you assume they prefer peace with you with some equitable resolution to your differences, that is rational or you wouldnt be sitting down. On the flip side if you are sitting down with someone who has no interest in a mutually beneficial peace (by your standards) you are in grave danger of fooling yourself into ignoring that glaring danger, because, again, logically why are you trying to negotiate with someone not negotiating in good faith. Nobody wants to feel (much less look) like an idiot, and hence the apologizing begins.

    Before we even think about sitting down with Iran at high levels, we need to determine exactly what the leader in question assumes about the other party’s motivations. I need to hear that from Obama. What does he believe Iran’s goals are? What are they willing to settle for?

    How can we begin to talk about trusting judgement until we hear about these specifics? Saying we should start from scratch and reach out to these guys is NOT reassuring.

  3. One did not _negotiate_ with Genghis Khan, one either defeated him, submitted, or was slain. The trick, obviously, is to know when one is facing that sort of mentality. My fear is that the “Wilsonion” tradition of
    unreserved idealism that seems to be so firmly ensconced in the cultural ethos of todays’ political class makes it impossible to play the quite often necessary role of
    “Perfidious Albion.”

    In succeeding Chamberlain, Churchill was quoted as saying: “I’ve thought long and hard as to whether I have a duty as His Majesty’s Prime Minister to conduct negotiations with that man, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not.” By this he meant, of course, that further negotiations would signal weakness to Hitler, dismay the very countrymen and Allies he was going to have to urge to fight, and give–by the very fact of negotiations–an undeserved imprimatur of legitimacy which the rest of the world might seize upon to avoid fully (if at all) joining the British cause.

    My fear is that Obama will bring to pass all of the very
    real and harm-full things Churchill worried about in rejecting further negotiations with Herr Hitler.

  4. I thought the Op-Ed piece was fatuous, and I wasn’t one bit surprised to find out that the lead author appears in the neocon journal Commentary. Presumably, like the Communists stunned by the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the memo that Israel is talking to Syria came too late for them to be silent more wisely.

    Even the diplomat George Kennan, whom they cite in support, is quoted by them as wanting to continue lower-level talks preparatory to a summit. I haven’t heard Obama say he’s going to meet Iranians with no prior preparation; he’s speaking against an irrational demand that we not talk to Iran and Syria at any level. As far as I can tell, this is not so much to further national security, as a shibboleth like the use of the more vague term “homicide bomber” for suicide bomber.

    Moreover, there’s no way of predicting what Krushchev would have done if Kennedy had refused a summit, and the authors don’t really even try.

  5. Negotiating with the conservative, led by old Men, status-quo Soviet Union is quite different with negotiations with say, Pakistan (no real authority, just circles of influence based on tribe) or Iran, young, aggressive, determined to upset the status quo.

    What could we possibly gain from negotiating with Iran? Nothing of use.

    [This is quite different from negotiating with say, Syria or Libya which are more conservative, status-quo.]

    Iran has made clear it will have: A. Nuclear Weapons. B. Expulsion of the US in the Gulf (not just Iraq). C. Destruction of Israel. D. Extremely high prices for oil, globally, by restricting supply from the Gulf region. E. Domination of the Eastern Med to Persian Gulf to Central Asia.

    They will not budge on these, they are all key objectives of the regime since Khomeni. There is no “deal” that can be made, no “swap” of missiles in Turkey for those in Cuba.

    Just take A. There is no “deal” that we can talk the Iranians into. Obama is already committed to leaving Iraq and the Gulf, so why should the Iranians stop nuclear weapons, a thirty year program? When they are this close to succeeding?

    We can, however, sponsor (and should) terrorist and separatist groups inside Iran, since after 79 there are no rules. Make the regime feel pain and reduce their ability to pay their gunmen who maintain their rule. Let it be known that the pain could increase, along with “denied” air strikes on Iranian refineries and the like and THEN there is a basis for a deal. One that would require extensive verification, to prevent cheating, but still a basis for negotiation.

    Obama and Dems believe they can simply “charm” hard men who killed their way to the top by lots of West Wing dialog. It’s a fantasy of a little kid, who believes that anything, and I do mean anything, is better than violence. Even submission and surrender to Iran.

    Institutionally, the State Dept. is invested in “deals” of any kind, any piece of paper, even if it’s worthless. That’s the problem with North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran.

    If Obama were not the childish and weak and naive anti-American that he is, he’d offer to “officially deny” but bomb Iran anyway, as both payback for 79 and everything else afterwards, and a way to get the message across that no rules hurts Iran more than us.

    Our biggest objective is stopping Iran from going nuclear. Once they have that, the Iranians and Pakistanis can credibly point to the other if an American city gets nuked, by some unknown or known terrorist group. No “proof” means the US does nothing, it happens again, and again, then the US MUST in survival mode wipe out both nations and much of the Muslim world. 9/11 showed us there is no real “point” to mass terror other than doing it for it’s own sake, so this is no trivial danger.

    In short the best way to avoid total catastrophe, pure “survival mode” is to actually reduce the regimes ability to survive by hurting it’s ability to produce cash for gunmen. The legacy of Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush weakness and appeasement in the face of Iranian aggressive acts of war require nothing less.

    Obama will never pursue this, McCain might.

  6. Andrew, Obama was asked in the YouTube debates point blank if he would meet with Syria and Iran with no preconditions, and he said yes.

    Weasel words.

    One of the things that being in Iraq gives us, is the ability to influence Iran by using cross-border terror right back at them. If there are no rules, and there are none after 1979 or 1983 or 1996, then Iran should be made to comprehend that the larger resources available to the US more than counter-acts their “increase in will” and that their nuclear program must cease or the regime ends.

    Iran’s leaders have made it clear that they view terrorism + nuclear weapons as a “magic sword” that will allow them to destroy not just Israel, but the US as well. If we want to avoid tragedy, on a global scale, we’d better nip that attitude NOW while we still have a chance.

    Iran needs to be threatened, credibly and clearly, in ways that all competing power centers in Iran understand and respond to in the same way. Iran needs to be Lee at Appomattox, not Gettysburg.

  7. AL: “When we talk about “Nixon in China”, we’re talking about the fact that only an extreme anti-Communist hawk like Nixon could have made the rapproachment with China work…”

    I would argue this differently. Nixon’s opening to China succeeded not because he was a Republican or an anti-Communist but because (1) the US was leaving Vietnam, (2) the US acquiesced in China’s nuclear status, and (3) China had an adversary, Russia, against which American support was useful.

    No equivalent circumstances exist in relation to prospective US diplomacy with Iran: we have not really drawn down US forces in Iraq; we neither accept, nor are we prepared to take effective action to preempt, Iran as a nuclear state; and Iran has no adversary against which American support would be useful. It is hard for me to see what the US or Iran could discuss right now.

    I don’t think Obama’s willingness to have talks without preconditions necessarily signals a willingness to do so with the same government more than once. Nor, as the example of Kennedy makes clear, can it be assumed that a willingness to meet necessarily signals a readiness to cave when put to a more severe test. The problem for both candidates is to articulate outcomes in the places where we are being tested today that we can achieve and live with.

  8. Andrew:

    I haven’t heard Obama say he’s going to meet Iranians with no prior preparation; he’s speaking against an irrational demand that we not talk to Iran and Syria at any level.

    Correct. He didn’t say he would meet Iran without preparations, he said he would meet them without preconditions. “In the exact words of his website”:http://www.barackobama.com/issues/foreignpolicy/#diplomacy “Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.”

    He does a fine pin-head jig drawing distinctions between “preparations” and “preconditions”.

    Good job of emulating his cuttlefish-like transformations. Plastic Man will teach those Iranians a thing or two!

  9. How do you negotiate with a doomsday cult of a violent, imperialistic cult? Ahmanutjobs sole goal is the come back of the occulted Immam after which TEOTWAWKI begins.

    What is to negotiate? The terms of our surrender?

    These effers are tribal, you ain’t. I am probably the closest because I am closest to the boat from the old country – my tribe paints themselves blue and runs thru the woods in rough woolen kilts. I don’t get them.

    The Demoncrats are pretty much advocating running home and hiding behind mommy’s skirts just like Bin Laden said we would. We are acting like the weak horse not a strong horse.

    And still ya’ll hang out and pretend they really didn’t mean it when they said they want us either dead or submissive then dead. They are still tribes not modern men in a modern culture. Their nation states were just recently formed – within the last century. They are still mired in the 7th century not the 20th much less the 21st.

    But, we are going to march down that road to cultural suicide no matter the voices amongst us protesting the coming holocaust. They said the real one was still coming. Any of you remember that? Thought not.

  10. Robohobo:

    Who was it who said “speak softly, but carry a big stick”?

    How to negotiate with Dark Ages barbarians: Tell them that the next time we lose a building, they lose a city. And when they don’t believe us and we do lose a building, MAKE GOOD ON OUR THREAT.

    This will actually be good for the Islamic world in the long run; because if we don’t get tough, sooner or later some nutjob will get a nuke, we will lose a city or a major part of one – and then they all die. (Wretchard’s Three Conjectures for details).

    If that happens, let’s hope that the city they choose will be the one that the West can best afford to lose – Washington, D.C.

  11. _”And when they don’t believe us and we do lose a building, MAKE GOOD ON OUR THREAT.”_

    Thats always the rub, of course. And the terrorists themselves may not care, being religious zealots and all.

    To put a twist on your doctrine, i believe we should put a blanket threat on the rogue nations that are attempting to produce nuclear weapons. If we or our interests are struck by a nuke, we will consider everybody on the list to be equally culpable and instant retaliate against all of them. This ties the fate of NK, Syria, Iran, etc to the _least stable_ actor on the list. That is a huge incentive to get off that list, unless you want your fate tied to the wager that Kim Il Jung wont sell a nuke to anybody that can pay.

    To get off the list, just disarm and submit to inspects as Libya has. Ambiguity is the enemy of MAD. If a nation that by definition isnt entirely stable can convince itself that it can slip a nuke to a third party and somehow not get caught, we have a huge problem. We must make it crystal clear that that is impossible.

  12. _How to negotiate with Dark Ages barbarians: Tell them that the next time we lose a building, they lose a city. And when they don’t believe us and we do lose a building, MAKE GOOD ON OUR THREAT._

    The problem here, is the assumption that the iranians are a bunch of “barbarians”. For the most part, they’re a modern, middle class, suprisingly secular (by ME standards) society. It’s just that the government has blacklisted all non-religous zealouts from power.

    I think the problem here is that most people assume that there are only two paths in dealing with Iran:
    a) Pressuring them militarily from a distance
    b) Pandering to them

    While I’m not obama, but if it were me, finding options between those two could give us more options. Sure, it depends alot on how it’s done, and who we are willing to meet.I don’t really expect negotiations to solve anything, but I see how open diplomacy could affect a few “outside the box” problems:

    1) Create a sense of solidarity with Europe, so that if something drastic occurs in the future, at least it might happen with support of other western governments.

    2) Appeal to Middle-East moderates. I know some of you don’t think they exist, but groups of pro-western (or western-ambivalent) groups may be more receptive to US arguments if they believe we are making a good-faith effort against a “Christian-Muslim” war. Much of this “GWOT” requires receptive moderates to really let westen values spread. Many ME don’t like they’re governments either, but if we act like we’re “above them” we also chance alienating moderate support.

    3) I think, as AL said in the past, our position on retaliation should be made abundantly clear. What better way to illustrate this than face-to-face clarity?

    Of course, the Bush doctrine has been to pretend to ignore them, while cricizing them from a distance. How has that worked? The Iranian government was actually becoming more progressive, (by election of Khatami) and the whole “Axis of Evil” crap helped Iran reconsider barring government moderates. Furthermore, white house’s attempts to brand Ahmadinejad “a terrorist” actually helped to push him into the position. Bush has played his Iranian hand wrong on every situation, why should I trust his diplomacy (or lack therof) now?

  13. bq. The Iranian government was actually becoming more progressive, (by election of Khatami) and the whole “Axis of Evil” crap helped Iran reconsider barring government moderates. Furthermore, white house’s attempts to brand Ahmadinejad “a terrorist” actually helped to push him into the position.

    When being branded as a terrorist makes a guy _more_ likely to wind up as president of a country, I suspect there are more serious flaws with that society than you let on.

  14. alchemist; I personaly think the talks are a waste of time, given what Iran is saying about the current talks, but I don’t think it will be the end of the world if Obama gets competent foreign policy help. As to your points:

    _1) Create a sense of solidarity with Europe . . ._

    The U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany have jointly been negotiating and offering incentives for Iran to drop its nuclear program, which have repeatedly been rejected and described in the Iranian official press as a show of Iranian strength and international weakness.

    This strikes me as 1979 all over again. Carter, a child of reason and enlightenment, was confident that he could negotiate an outcome with the revolutionary elements in Iran, when all along what they wanted was American disdain.

    What do the Iranians want? Obama thinks the Iranians want economic and political normalization with the outside world. He needs to ask Bill Clinton about that.

    _2) Appeal to Middle-East moderates._

    I think many Sunni moderates are not happy with developments and would like to see Iran put in its place. What do Iranian moderates want? I don’t think they want their regime legitimized (nor do they want invasion).

    _3) I think, as AL said in the past, our position on retaliation should be made abundantly clear. What better way to illustrate this than face-to-face clarity?_

    But Obama scolded Hillary for saying that. She said that if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, “we would be able to totally obliterate them.” Obama said “this kind of language is not helpful.” It is if you want a policy of deterrence.

  15. On the more constructive side, I think there are options on the table between pandering and military pressure.

    Increase economic sanctions.

    This will require more coordination with the Europeans. If Obama is serious about negotiating a resolution; he should be meeting in Brussels not in Tehran.

  16. I am not sure how a Martian reading this thread would conclude that the Iranians were the violent extremist nutjobs.

  17. _”I am not sure how a Martian reading this thread would conclude that the Iranians were the violent extremist nutjobs.”_

    Thats assuming Martians would read this thread like leftists- ie, without context. Implicit in the discussion is our knowledge of the hostage taking, terrorist training, terrorist funding, suicide bomb enouraging history of Iran over the last 20 years.

    Just like the appeasers, the only way Martians could come to that conclusion is by ignoring all of Iran’s crimes and focusing exclusively on our own flaws.

  18. I think I’ll let Joe Biden explain the difference between “no preconditions” and Obama showing up at a futile or counterproductive summit.

    Sen. Obama is right that the U.S. should be willing to engage Iran on its nuclear program without “preconditions” — i.e. without insisting that Iran first freeze the program, which is the very subject of any negotiations. He has been clear that he would not become personally involved until the necessary preparations had been made and unless he was convinced his engagement would advance our interests.

    Or we can play cowboy.

  19. Andrew:

    Or we can play cowboy.

    Then why does Obama play cowboy with Hamas, insisting that he will not negotiate with them until they “renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and abide by past agreements”?

    Who does he think he is, Cleavon Little?

  20. PD Shaw, #19: I personaly think the talks are a waste of time, given what Iran is saying about the current talks,

    The same could be said of us, especially given election year rhetoric wherein Republicans are effectively forbidden by their own nomination process to even entertain the thought of thinking about talking to someone about negotiating.

    One of my emerging fundamental notions of American Foreign Policy is this: The American public, while not stupid per se, can be counted on to completely misunderstand the targets of at least half of all politically charged international statements, by assuming that they (we) are the targets.

    Or, put more curtly, sometimes, it ain’t actually about us. In this case, it is at least plausible, if not probably, that the famed Iranian bellicosity is at least in part meant for internal and regional consumption.

  21. Marcus:

    the famed Iranian bellicosity is at least in part meant for internal and regional consumption.

    It’s being eagerly consumed by some here in the US, who believe that Iran is no threat (Obama circa Monday), or a “threat” only because Bush and McCain made it one (Obama circa Tuesday, or was it Monday afternoon?), or who are eager to see Iran become a threat so it can threaten Israel with nuclear weapons.

  22. When you talk you get information. Information can turn out to be intelligence. Seeing how poor our intelligence has been of late, it might be in our best interest to re-engage with the Iranians.

    If from our viewpoint, the Iranians are such a threat to us, how do we appear to the Iranians? We control the Gulf and can instantaneously destroy their economy. We can destroy all of their power production in a matter of weeks. We have forces surrounding them, forward bases in which to launch attacks that will cripple the entire country for generations.

    Now somehow we cannot engage in diplomacy with these terrifying characters unless they learn to stand on their hind legs and meet our pre-conditions? Well, I am sure that they are going to come around to this way of thinking any day now. And when they do, John McCain will be proven beyond any doubt to be the tooth fairy.

    I am a Republican and this tack is going to prove to be a real loser for McCain. But, the party is so lost now that it may need some time in the wilderness. The handwriting is on the wall everywhere that the American people do not want a continuation of the Bush Administration policies, in by-elections, by calls of party leaders for re-branding and by the complete irrelevancy of the administration in its last years in office.

    The world has changed. The American economy does not wield the power it once did. European and Asian economies no longer face ruin with an American downturn. We have to be a lot smarter in our Foreign Policy dealings than we have been since the Neo-Cons entered the scene.

  23. Let me put this a slightly different way Glen: I do believe Iran (more specifically: the Iranian government) is dangerous. Has anything we’ve done in the last 8 years defanged Iran? On the contrary, Iraq has made them more safe, and more secure in their territory. They aren’t even bothered by economic sanctions, since they can freely trade with Russia & China.

    Do I believe that more of the same is going to help the situation? No.

  24. bq. When you talk you get information. Information can turn out to be intelligence.

    Um. Couldn’t the same be said for the Iranians getting intel out of _us_? Isn’t that the more likely scenario, given the relative difference in our intel capabilities (worse initial intel would mean that party gleans more intel out of the same set of talks)?

    To put it in game theory terms: why do you think we can gain a more favorable outcome if the opposing side has more information, instead of acting in a restricted information environment? It’s not an impossible scenario, I’m just wondering what you see that makes you think it is the case here.

    bq. Seeing how poor our intelligence has been of late, it might be in our best interest to re-engage with the Iranians.

    If intel was the only point of talks, yes. But you keep ignoring the simple fact that engaging in talks is not a stand-alone activity with no other side effect. They could be used for stalling, or for “distraction”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Events_leading_to_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor#Breaking_off_negotiations , or just to boost one’s prestige.

    bq. If from our viewpoint, the Iranians are such a threat to us, how do we appear to the Iranians? We control the Gulf and can instantaneously destroy their economy. We can destroy all of their power production in a matter of weeks. We have forces surrounding them, forward bases in which to launch attacks that will cripple the entire country for generations.

    Heh, as I said back in 2003, this is a _feature_ not a bug of OIF. It’s the “Risk”:http://www.hasbro.com/risk/ viewpoint of the world and it remains incredibly relevant, much to the chagrin of and despite all the best efforts and wishes of transnationalists, multiculturalists, and university professors.

    bq. Now somehow we cannot engage in diplomacy with these terrifying characters unless they learn to stand on their hind legs and meet our pre-conditions?

    You have a strange view on what agreement or refusal to negotiate entails. What makes you think preconditions for talks–which are a well-understood tool in the art of negotiation–are a result of fearing the other party? _Serious_ demands for preconditions don’t come from a party that is afraid of the other guy, they come from the side that holds the ultimate trump card. The weaker party may put up some demands, but they need to have a significant bargaining chip to induce the other party to agree; and if the two meet somewhere in the middle, that means both sides have something they are willing to give up, and something they want from the other side they think they can get in return.

    bq. The world has changed. The American economy does not wield the power it once did. European and Asian economies no longer face ruin with an American downturn.

    I think you greatly underestimate that power, especially once the Fed starts working on a strong US dollar again. It is a little premature to buy the EU’s fevered claims of the bloc’s economic parity with the US, and if you back out growth sparked by US demand from the varioius Asian economies, their futures don’t look as shiny either.

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