Catalytic Diplomacy
Preface by Morton H. Halperin, former Director of the Policy Planning Staff, the Department of State
Morton H. Halperin
Morton H. Halperin [See larger]
Jeremy Stone is a remarkable person who has demonstrated over a lifetime that a private citizen who is dedicated and shrewd and uses appropriate methods can have a significant impact on the behavior of governments. Having known and observed Jeremy for almost half a century, I have no doubt that his influence has been as great as that of all but the most senior figures in government.

In his second book, Catalytic Diplomacy: Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, Jeremy continues the recounting of his life's work, which he began in his early volume, Every Man Should Try: Adventures of a Public Interest Activist. Although he was leading the Federation of American Scientists during the period of the first volume and was running his own small NGO, Catalytic Diplomacy, during the second, the continuities are clear. Jeremy has devoted his life to conflict resolution and to ending the nuclear arms race. He has, at the same time, gotten involved constructively in a surprising range of interesting issues involving human rights and foreign policy.

He has never abandoned the belief that reason and knowledge can triumph over fear and ignorance. Nor has he wavered from the belief that activism can make a real difference. In this view, one needs to develop a clear understanding of the issue, come up with some constructive and saleable idea, and then figure out how to persuade leaders of governments to adopt it.

The conflicts that Jeremy sought to mitigate in the second work—US-Russian nuclear relations, China's relation with Taiwan, North Korea's relations with its neighbors, and U.S.-Iranian relations—have all been affected for the better by Jeremy's efforts, but they are all still very much with us. There is much to learn from Jeremy's recent activities, and I commend to the reader the chapters that follow and the earlier book, which sets the stage for what came later.

Readers less familiar with international diplomacy may be surprised and perhaps even incredulous that a private citizen can have such an impact on the thinking and behavior of governments. My own experience provides some reasons why this can happen.

First, government officials welcome first-hand accounts of the internal debate within the opposing society. They often learn mainly from reading classified intelligence reports. It is astonishing how ill-informed such documents are, how much they reflect preconceived notions, and how little they capture differences between societies. This situation provides a perceptive activist with access to foreign officials and, in the process, an opportunity to learn how problems are being viewed and to propose congenial solutions.

Second, governments are often starved for fresh ideas because the senior officials and their staffs are too busy for creative thinking. Accordingly, brainstorming with such officials can be especially productive.

Third, Jeremy seems to have understood instinctively something I learned from one of my great bosses, John McNaughton. He said ideas from outside of a bureaucracy are often too complicated or apolitical and too difficult to implement. He said such ideas could have impact only if they could be stated in one simple declarative sentence, and, once stated, were obviously true. Indeed, as these Chapters show, Jeremy often worked hard to reduce his proposals to something that could be described on a large button which he would wear and pass out.

Finally, since complicated domestic politics play a critical role in determining which ideas can be advanced, Jeremy was wise just to infect sympathetic officials with his proposals and leave it to them to fine-tune and advance the ideas. This viral approach is something he first wrote about, forty years ago, in his book: "Strategic Persuasion: Arms Control Through Dialogue". General George Marshall was said to have observed that there is no limit to what one can accomplish in Washington if only one does not want the credit. The success of Jeremy's approach shows that this is true in the international arena as well.

Many Washington insiders have been aware for many years of the invaluable role that Jeremy has played on many issues. The blurbs for this and his previous book, are just a small window into those views. Now that his travels are in the past, Jeremy has wisely decided to share the details of his efforts—and his techniques and methods—in part with the hope of advancing a related school of thought under the banner "Catalytic Diplomacy". For his willingness to do this, and for his life's work, all who care about the future of the human race are deeply in his debt.

Morton H. Halperin
Senior Advisor, Open Society Institute
Director of the Policy Planning Staff
Department of State (1998-2001)

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