International Negotiations: Shaping Character and Outcomes
Countries that win wars have complete leverage over the ones which lose them and therefore can demand anything they want from their opponents during the process of negotiations. For example, after the Second World War, Germany was in ruins and despised by the whole world for the atrocities it committed during the war. This situation put allied powers in a position where they could do practically anything with the former Nazi state. As a result, the winners decided to divide Germany into two parts. The idea, which would be unimaginable even several years before, became a reality because the board was dominated by the allies.
There are also situations when two players become the most dominant ones and have to cooperate in order to maintain stability and peace on the board and avoid any serious conflicts. This was done by the U.S. and the USSR in 1987 when President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned land-based missiles of the two countries. By making this commitment, the nations demonstrated that they recognized each other’s power and were ready to negotiate in order to reduce the risk of war.
There are cases when a board is largely controlled by one player, which has a greater military and economic power, as well as a larger population, which puts it in an advantageous position for negotiating with its neighbors. For instance, China today is the world’s leading powerhouse, the status which it utilizes in order to undermine the autonomy of Hong Kong, the region with which they previously espoused the “one country, two systems” model. In 2020, China passed a new security law that significantly limited the freedom of speech and independence of Hong Kong. This law became a reality only because, over recent decades, China has become a major player in the world and now has the capacity to negotiate on its own terms.