Is This Why The Administration Has Gone Full Court Press On New START?

Posted: November 28, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Could it be human nature?

A rule of buying and selling is this: never fall in love with the product.

Similarly, the more time one has invested in the deal and the more attachment one has to it, the more likely it is the deal will get done.

Consider the new car buyers and the automotive salesman. When the buyers have fallen in love with the product (the car) and they’ve invested several hours of their time (on the deal) and formed a relationship with the salesman, they’re much more likely to accept (versus ignore) the fact the salesman has added a thousand dollars worth of undercoating, UV protectant, pin striping, and window tinting at closing.

The same is true regarding negotiation with other nations, where it pays, as former CIA Director James Woolsly says, to be friendly but never eager. No doubt that’s the intent behind the Senate having ratify treaties: they have much less attachment to the “deal” and can look at it more objectively.

Is it possible so much time, effort, and political capital have been invested in New START that the importance of the pros and cons of the treaty—how it will impact national security—have been subsumed by falling in love with the product, the deal, and the relationship with the other party?

  1. Coyote says:

    I think it is human nature. This points to a serious problem for America when it comes to arms control–its advocates in the D.C. think tanks (some, not all).

    Arms control has become a cottage industry for a small handful of think tanks in Washington D.C. Such think tanks typically operate on a shoestring and some receive foreign funding to promote arms control inside the halls of American government. With this money, these wannabe diplomats orchestrate conferences, symposia, and meetings with international participants to contrive various arms control arrangements–sometimes thinly veiled as non-binding agreements of responsible behaviour. Seems innocuous enough.

    Unfortunately, the think tankers have neither the security clearances nor the intelligence preparation that real diplomats and negotiators have when they engage in officially sanctioned efforts. They don’t know much about the chips on the table. They think they do–or at least they are able to convince their funders that they do–but they don’t. This is why their efforts often seem naive or even delusional to professionals in the know–or as if they are being exploited by a foreign propaganda campaign against U.S. interests.

    Then when a new administration comes to town and they look around for someone to appoint to arms control or related positions, they grab people from this think tank community. What do they get? Sometimes they get a brilliant person who is primed to perform well–they certainly know they players and the issues. Sometimes they end up with foreign sympathisers who have probably fallen in love with some ill-conceived product they and their foreign contacts concocted at their former think tank.

    What happened with New START? I don’t know, but words from Joe Rouge come to mind, “The purpose of treaties is to score PR points for things you were going to do anyway.” Words from British scholar Colin S. Gray remind us that, “Arms control is only possible when it is not needed.”

    Given the lack of a necessary or sufficient cause of war between the US and Russia, the New START seems to be destined for success, whether the two sides abide by it or not. They only question is the wisdom of the timing. Others in the world are proliferating, yet this is a bilateral treaty. Hmmmm… Yup, someone fell in love with the product.

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