Hillary Clinton said Sen. Obama’s plan to personally meet with the dictators of the world was “irresponsible and naive.” She is correct.

There is a widespread misconception about diplomacy. Diplomacy is a bargaining game where there are conflicts of interest. If there was a perfect coincidence of interest, there would be no need for diplomats, as states would naturally agree on mutual courses of action. This is never the case as two agents will never have the exact desires.

Diplomacy is not based on ideals of justice. They are hard-bargaining games to resolve conflicts of interest. It involves threats, rewards, and deception. Diplomacy should be done by professionals, not Presidents. Presidential summits are nothing more than photo-ops.

Diplomacy moves in several stages. Intelligence judges the probable strengths and desires of the other state. Politicians compare this to the strengths and intentions of their own state and discover disparities. Diplomats negotiate to agree on mutual courses of action.

Presidents have very incomplete knowledge in these highly complex games. They cannot just meet with foreign leaders, have a chat, and come up with some idealistic plan. Foreign leaders will sense weakness and drive a much harder bargain, or negotiate in bad faith and immediately violate the terms of the agreement.

Diplomacy is a long set of negotiations. Deals are created by lower ranking officials first. Once the deals are arranged, the President and Foreign Leader stage a photo-op. The Photo-Op means nothing and is not even necessary. It creates an illusion that the President “created” the treaty. This creates positive publicity and garners attention for the treaty, but it does little else.

Diplomats engage in bargaining games. They issue threats and rewards to encourage responses from their opponents. Diplomats conceal important information from their opponents in order to secure a stronger position.

If an ignorant politician is arrogant enough to negotiate, they will negotiate from a very weak position and will lose.

This is also the same mistake that Nancy Pelosi made when she toured Syria. Pelosi and Bush offered conflicting message about US government intentions at a time when Syria is mobilizing for war. Pelosi claims that Syria and the US should be at peace no matter the cost. This undermines the US diplomatic bargaining position and increases the probabilty of a war this year.

Sen. Clinton understands diplomacy and the correct presidential role. She, like Bush, will send in lower-ranking officials to test the waters, discover the intentions and strengths of other states without committing, then hammer out deals with threats and incentives. Clinton has the mindset of a President. She will follow the same diplomatic policies as President Bush. In reality, both are following the normal rules of the game.

Obama and Pelosi, simply put, do not engage in real diplomacy. This ignorance poses a danger to the United States because it emboldens our enemies and weakens out bargaining position. Even if they get agreements, they will be of much lower utility than real diplomatic agreements. They engage in a comical farce which does not even resemble diplomacy. It is based on the misconception that “compromise” is about justice, and if both sides meet and agree on a just plan, then all will be well. This is an irresponsible and naive ideal.

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