In This Review

The Logic of Positive Engagement (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)
The Logic of Positive Engagement (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)
By Miroslav Nincic
Cornell Univ Pr, 2011, 224 pp

When the United States seeks to change the behavior of rival or adversarial states, what are the available tools and strategies? In this provocative study, Nincic observes that American foreign-policy makers tend to resort to “negative pressures,” such as the use of force, coercive diplomacy, and economic sanctions. Less appreciated and less understood, Nincic argues, are the tools and strategies of “engagement,” policies that use positive inducements to alter the incentives and orientations of other states. Nincic is surely correct: policymakers know more about the use of sticks than carrots. The book seeks to explain the bias in American foreign policy toward threats and punishments and argues that it is a legacy of the Cold War, which taught politicians to worry about charges of appeasement. Nincic also sees biases in the American security-studies community, where, he claims, realist understandings of the world shift attention away from nonmilitary tools of influence. The book’s most useful contribution is to spell out how strategies of engagement and positive inducements can work, using the United States’ experiences with Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Syria as case studies.