Of carrots and sticks

Over 100 years ago Teddy Roosevelt referred to what he described as an old adage, namely ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’. The meaning was clear. Where possible use diplomacy to resolve a dispute and do not rush to confrontation. But ensure you have the ability and willingness to use force if those diplomatic and peaceful methods fail.

Over the years that stick has too often been replaced with something else. The adage today, if modern diplomacy is anything to go by, could read ‘Speak softly and carry a big carrot’.  One man who has often referred to this is the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, the always forthright and entertaining John Bolton.

With that in mind it was interesting to read this thought provoking piece by another Ambassador, this time the former British Ambassador Charles Crawford.  In his post (designed to plug his consulting services) Crawford outlines the complexity inherent in negotiations and how problematic the stick and carrot approach can be.  He then factors in the psychological side of negotiation for good measure.  It offers a fascinating dip into the world of diplomacy and is well worth a read.

3 Responses to “Of carrots and sticks”


  1. 1 ChrisW 20/06/2011 at 10:01 am

    Not so much a carrot, more like appeasement. Cameron is now imitating Baldwin in his comic-tragic impersonation of past PMs.

  2. 2 The Gray Monk 20/06/2011 at 3:46 pm

    Tacitus reports that Pliny said – Si vis pacem; parabellum. If you seek peace; prepare for war.

    A maxim all our current politicians do not understand.

  3. 3 Brian Hall 20/06/2011 at 6:22 pm

    Perhaps they are about to be taught the converse:
    Si vis bellum, parapacem.


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