Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Voice of Experience

The joy of collecting old books is finding nuggets that gather in relevance as they get older. Amidst the hoard of books nestles one of my Dad's Army footlockers that I have filled with many issues of Reader's Digest. Occasionally I will go exploring through these magazines; I say occasionally because each time I pick one issue up, within an hour I find I am halfway down into the footlocker. Ah what grand story shall I find this time? Or what hidden diamond of truth?

So there I was sorting through these magazines, putting aside ones' with thought provoking articles just begging me to read them when I found one I should immediately post a snippet of. The title is 'The Hazards of Negotiating With the Communists' by Admiral Arleigh Burke in the October 1968 issue. Admiral Burke was involved in the first year of negotiations with the communists during the Korean War. At the end he offers his suggestions on how to negotiate and I find these principles can be applied to many others whom the President of the United States faces across a negotiating table.

  • Recognize that communists regard the conference table a part of the battlefield, a propaganda platform from which they will try to win what they failed to win on the battleground. Never make a concession for which there is not an exact reciprocation.
  • Insist that an acceptable truce must be achieved within a short, specified time period. If the enemy procrastinates, do not hesitate to break off the talks.
  • Never be afraid to threaten new military force if it seems necessary, and always be prepared to follow through. Whatever your intentions, never promise not to use nuclear weapons; there is no reason to free your enemy of this worry.
  • Require your enemy to earn your trust with deeds. Never assume that you can take his word for anything.
  • Recognize that far from triggering a world war, a firm negotiating stance will make such a war more unlikely.

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