Do ‘Grand Bargains’ work?


transitions-bargainsDo ‘Grand Bargains’ help facilitate democratic transitions?

At the time, the Helsinki Accords of 1975 did not seem like a game-changer, notes Edward Lucas, a senior editor at The Economist. In retrospect, however, they “unleashed a force that would destabilize and topple the Soviet empire, culminating in the spectacular series of summits between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that ended the Cold War,” he writes for the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA):

But these were not “grand bargains.” They reflected acuity on the Western side in appreciating the change in—and weakness of—the Soviet negotiating position. They were also based on steadily growing trust between the negotiating parties, coupled with a pragmatic approach, encapsulated in Reagan’s famous phrase about arms control: “trust but verify.”

“Grand Bargains are antithetical to the real basis of American power: dependability and cooperation with allies,” writes Lucas, adding that “the overwhelming lesson of the past is that it is not showy deals, but firm, patient negotiation—backed by excellent intelligence and military might—that brings the biggest and most lasting results.”


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