Empathy has always played a critical role in the domestic and foreign policy making processes in the American government. However, the US has always been inspired by the foreign policy making doctrine when making foreign decisions.
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Research shows that a leader will always make decisions with empathy because of the human nature. Some scholars observe that the world would be a peaceful place in case political leaders employ empathy when making decisions.
However, others note that the world would be a dangerous place since people would be guided by emotions when electing leaders. Moreover, it would influence the leadership of the country because leaders would be making policies based on emotions and attitudes (Murray, 1998).
Apart from influencing the leadership styles of many policy makers, empathy would also be dangerous to the behavior and their reasoning. In the American society, empathy is never taken into consideration when making governmental policies and laws.
Some note that empathy is the better alternative as compared to the current decision making model. Empathy is about considering personal thoughts and feelings when making a decision, which means that the policy maker considers the effects of the decision before declaring it.
When making a policy, it is imperative to consider the views, thoughts, and the feelings of another person.
In many occasions, a policy maker would make decisions that favor his or her standpoint implying that he may not take into considerations the views of another person. In the American government, policy makers are not guided by empathy in making foreign decisions.
However, empathy is considered when formulating domestic policies. In other words, the government consults the public or it seeks public opinion before designing domestic policies. Foreign policy making is considered high politics or real politick, which should never seek the views of the public.
The United States engages in conflicts with other states in order to achieve its interests meaning that it does not take consider morality when formulating a foreign policy towards an aggressor (Mendus, 2000).
However, the case is different when the state is engaging in negotiations with the less threatening states such as India, Pakistan, and other countries of the third world. There have been examples of leaders who have engaged in negotiations with extremists by employing empathy.
The negotiation between Mandela De Klerk was an example of negotiation that employed empathy.
This article discusses the issue empathy in political negotiations in detail. The paper draws some of the examples from the previous negotiations between American foreign policy makers and the Pakistani authorities.
It is noted that some factors drive leaders to employ empathy when making political negotiations. These reasons are also discussed in detail.
Application of Empathy in Political Negotiations
Policy makers employ empathy in negotiations mainly because of issues related to safety and conflict resolution. They employ empathy as an alternative to arriving at certain resolutions.
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Scholars such as Barcon-Cohen noted that there is a relationship between human capacity for empathy and human capacity for tranquility. Daniel Batson’s conclusion was that empathy is one of the ways through which political negotiations could be pursued.
In this case, political negotiators should be concerned with the welfare of others. The negotiations between Pakistan and India considered empathy because the state of affairs in the two countries was hurting the region’s economy.
The two countries were arguing over a piece of land in the Kashmir region yet leaders were reluctant to compromise their positions. Empathy forced the two countries to give ground. It was proved that empathy could be used as a better alternative to resolve issues as compared to the use of force.
Moreover, empathy is a valid alternative because it saves life. It is factual that empathy plays a critical role in political negotiations because policy makers consider the likely effect of the policy in their own political environment.
Empathy is an important variable because it encourages pro-social and encouraging behavior. Empathy does not give violence, revenge, and vengeance a chance, but instead it encourages harmonious coexistence whereby members would embrace the culture of amnesty and confidence.
In many cases, policy makers are tempted to stereotype and prejudice the decisions of other leaders because of cultural and religious differences (McEvoy, 2000). However, empathy prevents this behavior because the policy maker would understand the choice another policy maker from his or her perspective.
Through empathy, the two conflicting parties would live healthily, peacefully, and social links would be strengthened.
In the field of political science, the idea that empathy encourages peace and harmoniously coexistence is not taken embraced that easily. In other words, political scientists do not employ empathy quite often when making decisions in their day to day activities.
For political affairs, empathy does not matter so much because politics is all about competition and power. If an individual empathizes with his or her opponent, the chances of such an individual losing are high.
However, some political leaders employ it whenever it is observed that it is the only viable option in maintaining world peace. The modern society poses many challenges to policy makers, which forces them to employ various tools, models, and techniques in engaging in talks with friends and neighbors.
This implies that empathy has become an interpersonal skill, as well as a political tool. Through empathy, American policy makers have been able to reconnect with other members of society in oversees societies. The challenges of globalization do not allow one nation to boast of its resources and improve security.
The emergence of the global commons, such as terrorism environmental degradation, issues to do with inequality, and emergence of weapons of mass destruction, does not allow a state to take a firm standpoint (Mearsheimer, 1990).
One state should try as much as possible to understand the problems facing another state. Some of these global commons affect all nations, irrespective of the level of economic development, the geographic region, and the level of political development.
In international relations, empathy is not a concept that is of interest to many scholars because it is believed that it does not have any role to play. Much focus is placed on international relations theories and frameworks.
However, some scholars, particularly feminists, observe that empathy should be a factor to be considered when making foreign policy decisions. Empathy is a concept that cannot be explained in isolation meaning that is cannot be explained without the understanding of other concepts such as power and justice.
One of the reasons of employing empathy in political negotiations is that it guarantees peace. Before the end of the Cold War, the two centers of power were hotly involved in conflicts all over the world (Nye, 1990).
The two superpowers fought various proxy wars in other countries, especially developing countries whereby they funded various opposing groups in emerging economies. For over forty years, the two countries were able to maintain between themselves because of empathy.
In other words, the two countries could not engage in wars because they were mutual assured of destruction. They both possessed weapons of mass destruction, including the nuclear and biological power.
The war brought about various conflicts and crisis, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U-2 affair, and the construction of the Berlin Wall. States maintain peace mainly because they fear the impacts of the war. Similarly, a state would rarely attack another state because it is much aware of the effects of the war.
How Empathy Played a Role in the Negotiations between the US and Pakistan
The United States has engaged in various negotiations with the Pakistan since the time of Cold War. Pakistan has always been strategic to the interests of the US in the region. Recently, the US supported Pakistan in the establishment of a nuclear energy program mainly because of the threats faced by Pakistan in the region.
Apart from establishing s stable nuclear energy program, the US ensured that Pakistan is provided with a nuclear blanket, which prevents the effects of nuclear energy in the country (Oelsner, 2007). The US has been so supportive to Pakistan mainly because of the role that Pakistan played during the Cold War.
Pakistan served a military base for the American troops who were deployed in the region to check the influence and the power of the USSR. Pakistan became an enemy to many states, particularly the Middle East states because of its close ties with the US.
The US empathized with Pakistan because it has gone through various problems brought about by terrorism and extremisms. Terrorists and Islamic extremists have been targeting the US and its allies, including the western states.
Since the US understands that terrorists have no limits, it has always come up with foreign policy decisions that favor Pakistan in terms of defense and security.
If terrorists frustrate Pakistan, the US would be ridiculed since it is one of its allies in the region. Therefore, the US has to be empathetic when negotiating with Pakistan on matters touching on security.
Currently, the United States is in the process of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan meaning that Pakistan will continue being the major training base for its soldiers in Asia. In other words, Pakistan would play a critical role in supporting the American security interests in the region.
The interests, culture, principles and aspirations of Pakistan are very different from the aspirations of the US meaning that the two states have not been able to strike a deal that would see each state achieving its interests.
However, empathy has been a leading principle in formulating the common policies between the two states (McDermott, 2004). For instance, Pakistan has always urged the United States to understand that it was a peaceful and secure state before the United States took troops to its land.
In this regard, the US should understand that the issue of insecurity has been complicated by the presence of American troops. On the other hand, the US wants Pakistan to understand that the activities being carried out in the Middle East are meant to benefit all states in the world, including Pakistan.
McDermott, R. (2004). Political Psychology in International Relations. Ann Arbour: University of Michigan Press.
McEvoy, S. (2000). Communities and Peace: Catholic Youth in Northern Ireland. Journal of Peace Research, 37(1), 85-103.
Mearsheimer, J. (1990). Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War. The Atlantic Monthly, 266(2), 35-50.
Mendus, S. (2000). Feminism and Emotion: Readings in Moral and Political Philosophy. New York: St, Martin Press.
Murray, G. (1998). John Hume and the SDLP. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.
Nye, J. (1990). Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. New York: Basic Books.
Oelsner, A. (2007). Friendship, Mutual Trust and the Evolution of Regional Peace in the International System. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 10(2), 257-279.