Barack Obama sent a letter to the Russians offering to halt the European missile shield in exchange for Russian help in stopping Iran’s nuclear development. The Russians said thank you for agreeing to halt the missile shield, but we don’t haggle, so you get nothing from us.
Will someone teach Obama some basic rules of negotiating, please. Here are two rules that Obama could find with a simple internet search:
Rule: Don’t negotiate against yourself. Obama violated this rule by offering to halt the missile shield before the Russians had agreed to assist on Iran. By framing the offer as he did, Obama gave the Russians no reason to bargain since they had achieved what they wanted, a halt to the missile shield.
Rule: Never give a concession away without receiving one in return. This is a corollary to never negotiating against yourself. Obama having signaled a desire — publicly — to halt the missile shield, there is no reason for the Russians to give a concession:
Giving a concession without getting one in return establishes a precedent that can soon become a pattern. Later if you decide your concession are costing you too much, when you attempt to refuse future requests you’ll look like the “bad guy” in the negotiation.
I fear this is what the future holds:
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and we’ll suspend aid to Georgia.
Putin: OK, thank you for suspending aid to Georgia.
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and we’ll return Guantanamo to Cuba.
Putin: OK, thank you for agreeing to leave Guantanamo.
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and we’ll suspend all oil drilling in Alaska.
Putin: OK, but when are you going to return Alaska?
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and we’ll put pressure on Israel to return the Golan to Syria.
Putin: OK, I’ll call Assad right away to let him know.
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and we’ll pay you for allowing us to resupply our troops in Afghanistan.
Putin: OK, here’s my bank account number.
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and we’ll close our base in Kyrgyzstan.
Putin: Been there, done that.
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and I’ll stop using the term “czar” for people in my administration.
Putin: OK, but only if I can start using the term to describe myself.
Obama: Cooperate on Iran, and we’ll agree to mutual removal of presidential term limits so that we can continue our negotiations forever.
If the missile shield letter is what Obama meant by engaging in aggressive diplomacy, we are all in trouble.