Question by Joseph Sunday: What are strategies and tactics of international politics?
Answer by Travis Anderson
The Principles of Strategy are universal regardless of what field they are applied to-that’s the key to understanding my answer.
That being said, a lot depends on the specific situation, be it war, peace, trade negotiations, recognition or condemnation of a nation and so forth.
I will answer the best I can, but this is a rather vague question, as the number of strategies and tactics I can write about are extensive. I will then try to put it down to the principles-then show how such principles are manifested.
1. Be Flexible-
Flexibility is one of the most important of all principles-being inflexible is a sign of defeat. Do not confuse conviction with stubbornness. In this case, flexibility is the art of leaving yourself capable of choosing many routes to your strategic goal. If you wish to secure a trade agreement with a nation for instance, you must be flexible enough to be able to give a little more than you take-but also hold something that they value as well. Let’s say that a country is not recognized yet by the rest of the world, and in exchange for your recognition, offers a lucrative trade deal. You must be willing to take minor setbacks if you deem the trade-agreement as more beneficial than the risks of recognizing a potentially war-mongering nation-and if you can give a little more than you take-you can make them bend to your will.
2. Always say less than you need to-
The larger anything is-from a length of a speech, to the size of an army to the physical size of an opponent-the more easily it is attacked. In Politics, it is a refined art to say just enough to make them come back for more. There should always be some mystery to what you do-not so much that no one trusts you-but not so little that you’re easily outmaneuvered. A long speech is easily picked apart by pundits and rivals. Remember that for strength, concentrated beats extensive.
3. Know when to swallow your pride-
Pride will get you into more trouble then a slip of the tongue. A slip of the tongue will make people laugh but won’t really lose you any support for your policies. But never be so arrogant that you end up pushing allies away and giving enemies a way to attack you. If you brag, boast or make arrogant predictions-you’ll gain nothing at all. Keep your mouth shut, swallow your pride. Everyone respects the humble, but no one respects the arrogant.
4. Drop all your ideals about how the world should work-
At least, drop them in private. Ideals will only hold you back and cause you to say and do stupid things. But you must still speak as an idealist, but remain pragmatic. If you hold onto your ideals, you’ll end up underestimated your rivals, because you’ll begin to assume you’re naturally better in this or that way than he is.
5. Never go head to head-
While it may be “glorious” to some, going head to head is the epitome of stupidity in any field of strategy. They may call you cowardly, sneaky or weak, but victory is victory-and that’s what history will remember. The sting of being called a coward yet attaining victory is as nothing compared to be called a hero yet losing. This is true in any field for strategy, and for international relations-this refers to direct threats which cause you to be hated by the rest of the world and therefore causes you more damage than the benefits you receive. As well as constant invasions of other countries-going head to head is the absolute worst way to try to achieve victory.
6. Use someone elses’ hard work to benefit you-
Master the art of sweeping in at the last moment and saving the day. Since people have short memories, it’s best to be the one that seals the deal-the one that finishes the fight-than the one who actually negotiates or fights. Step in at the last moment and achieve victory and the people-willing to forget all the dirty work-only think about the victory-which you achieved.
7. When is more important than how-
Henry Kissinger was infamous for his negotiation prowess. But more than any other tactic-the tactic by which he achieved the most success involved him saying little to nothing as his rivals exasperated themselves trying to bring him to a deal. Then, as they nervously realized the time was running short, he would just lay all his demands right in front of them-so that they could either agree to them outright so as to not drag on the negotiations, or take longer and thus appear to be delaying negotiations.
There are so many more, but I don’t want to make this answer too long. If you need anymore, just send me an e-mail or IM.
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