Leslie Gelb Links Power and Foreign Policy

The author discusses how power combined with common sense and responsibility leads to effective diplomacy.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What is power?

 

Leslie Gelb: Power, to me, and I think power historically, has been the ability to get others to do something they don't want to do. It's a political and psychological relationship. It's using carrots and sticks to create an impression in someone's mind of what you can do to help them or to harm them. It's about pressure and coercion.

 

Question: What is effective foreign policy?

 

Leslie Gelb: Effective foreign policy really comes down to common sense. It's understanding what's attainable, which power can produce, and what's not attainable. It's understanding how to use your power because you understand just what power you do have and how it's going to affect other societies and other political leaders, some things that Americans rarely understand. So it comes down to common sense judgments.

In international relations, it puts you on the mountain and if you have the most power at the top of the mountain. But it also should give you responsibility if you have power because you have the power to get things done, solve problems. That's an awesome responsibility.

 

Recorded on 5/1/09.