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The Right Stuff: Diplomacy without a stick

By Earl Heal: published January 2, 2023

Diplomacy’s mission is to negotiate nations’ differing objectives. Its negotiating strength is primarily measured by a nation’s relative military strength and secondarily by its economic strength. Obviously, nations objectives vary – some for peace and some for aggression.

When Adolf Hitler began his attempted conquest of World War II, he had built a superior military strength that other European nations feared. That enabled him to negotiate agreements he had no intention of following. England’s Neville Chamberlain negotiated “peace in our time” only months before Hitler began World War II. Hitler eventually lost because he underestimated America’s resolve and industrial strength to build an overwhelming military force. President Franklin D. Roosevelt never negotiated until Germany and Japan acknowledged that they were militarily destroyed. Roosevelt clearly spoke only of “unconditional surrender.” The Korean War is an example of military weakness and ineffective diplomacy. While America had dissolved 90% of our military strength promptly after the World War II victory, Russia continued building its military and hence diplomatic strength to expand communist domination and influenced entry into the Korean War.

Initially, 90% of South Korea was lost to North Korea with Soviet support. However, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, with United Nations members, built a force that in six months recovered South Korea and most of North Korea. United Nations diplomacy, however, became the controlling factor and prevented MacArthur from stopping China from entering 300,000 troops into the war and recapturing North Korea. UN weak diplomacy negotiated a cease-fire, but a divided Korea and conflict potential remain 70 years later.[ more]

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