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UNIVERSITY	
  OF	
  BABES	
  BOLYAI	
  
FACULTY	
  OF	
  EUROPEAN	
  STUDIES	
  
CLUJ-­‐NAPOCA,	
  ROMANIA	
  2014	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
The Archetect and the Ruin: Richard C. Holbrooke and the Bosnian Conflict
Abdeslam	
  Badre,	
  PhD	
  
ABSTRACT	
  
Research based findings have already shown that factors in the management of critical situations in the field of
foreign policies and multi-lateral negotiations do not only require an understanding of the contextual, political,
social, and strategic factors of those situations but also, and maybe more importantly, they necessitate a deep grasp
of a number of psychological factors that affect the management and proceeding of international negotiations and
mediations of the leader. The paper attempts to materialize its objectives by scrutinizing one of the most influential
diplomats and foreign envoys the US foreign policy has witnessed during the last half of 20th
century: Richard C.
Holbrooke. In order to narrow the scope of this essay, the paper will focus on the Holbrooke’s Dayton Peace Accord
that put an end to the tragic war in Bosnia, in 1995. Since the debate here is about the psychological dimension in
foreign decision making, the focus then will be on sketching out an analysis of personality traits of Holbrooke, not
simply as an individual; but Holbrooke the architect of one of the most recent and most challenging peace treaties in
the post-cold war Eastern Europe. Accordingly, the Operational Code model (OCA) is adopted as the main
framework of analysis, since it focuses on the beliefs of political leaders as causal mechanisms in foreign policy
decisions.
  2	
  
I.	
  Introduction
“Richard was brilliant, blunt and he did fight until the end of the battle for what
he believed in. There are many of us in this audience who’ve had the experience
of Richard calling ten times a day if he had to say something urgent and, of
course, he believed that everything he had to say was urgent; and if he could not
reach you, he would call your staff; he’d wait outside your office; he’d walk to
meeting to which he was not invited, act like he was meant to be there and just
start talking. I personally received Richard Holbrooke’s treatment many times.
He would give me homework. He would declare I had to take one more meeting,
make one more stop. There was no escaping him. He would follow me onto a
stage, as I was about to give a speech, into my hotel room, and, on at least one
occasion, into a ladies room (pause with a smile on the face; audience are
laughing and applauding) in Pakistan!!!”
(Hilary Clinton, former secretary of State of America. Quoted from
the video, “Remembering Richard Holbrooke's Extraordinary
Life”)
This is how former secretary of State of America, Hilary Clinton, described Richard
Holbrooke during his memorial day that was organized by the White House in Washington DC.
But, who is Richard Holbrooke? And why is he being the subject of this paper? Answers to these
questions, among others, partially constitute the reason why this paper is being written.
This paper endeavors to investigate the role of the psychological parameters in foreign
policy decision-making. Research based findings have already shown that factors in the
management of critical situations in the field of foreign policies and multi-lateral negotiations do
not only require an understanding of the contextual, political, social, and strategic factors of
those situations but also, and maybe more importantly, they necessitate a deep grasp of a number
of psychological factors that affect the management and proceeding of international negotiations
and mediations of the leader/agent. For instance, when faced with a critical situation, the State
agents’ interpretation (be they diplomats or decision makers) of the situation is significantly
influenced by both internal and external factors such as: the identified goals and values, the
nature of the situation itself, the availability of information, time pressures, the behavior of the
individuals included in the situation, the organizational culture, standard doctrine and procedures,
and group dynamics, among many other situational, contextual, and personal elements. This
implies that the psychological dimensions play a key role in determining the decision-maker’s
approach to and implementation strategy of negotiations.
In order to put these abstract ideas into context, the paper attempts to materialize its
  3	
  
objectives by scrutinizing one of the most influential diplomats and foreign envoys the US
foreign policy has ever given birth to during the 2nd
half of the 20th
century. He is the token of
peace in the post-cold war Balkan region: Richard C. Holbrooke. In order to narrow the scope of
this essay, the paper will focus on the psychological factors that influenced Holbrooke during the
Dayton Peace Accord that put an end to the tragic war in Bosnia, in 1995. Since the debate here
is about the psychological dimension in foreign decision making, the focus then will be on
sketching out an analysis of the beliefs that shaped Holbrooke’s decisions, not simply as an
individual; but Holbrooke the architect of one of the most recent and most challenging peace
treaties in the post-cold war Eastern Europe. Accordingly, I will opt for the Operational Code
Analysis approach (OCA) since this model focuses on the beliefs of political leaders as causal
mechanisms in explaining foreign policy decisions.
Before delving into the main analysis, I will provide a brief review of the literature,
which will branch out into three subsections: the first section will briefly go over the historical
development of political psychology theory and its evolution in the field of foreign policy
decision making with a focus on the OCA model; the second subsection will provide a historical
summary about the Bosnian conflict as well as the Dayton Peace Accord; and finally the third
subsection will account for a short biography of Richard Holbrooke.
II. Literature Review
II.1. The Development of the Field of Political Psychology
The first era of research in political psychology focused not only on psychoanalysis, but
also, on personality theory more broadly and on the influence of childhood socialization and the
broader culture on adult political preferences. A great deal of research during this period, (e.g.,
Adorno et al. 1950; Almond 1954; and Eysenck 1954) fleshed out the general hypothesis that
diverse aspects of personality – including anxiety, aggressiveness, ego-strength, self-esteem,
dogmatism and social dominance – can play a critical role in determining individual political
attitudes and organizing political belief systems. As interest in psychodynamic psychology
waned after the 1950s, researchers turned to other conceptual frameworks to explain political
behavior, including cognitive consistency theory (Festinger 1957), reference group theory
(Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes 1960) and rational choice theory (Downs 1957). By the
1980s, a focus on the ingredients of policy attitudes and vote choice gave way to the cognitive
  4	
  
revolution – ushering in the third flourishing of political psychology – as scholars turned their
attention to the way in which information is acquired, represented and organized in memory and
retrieved in making political judgments.
Third generation of research on decision-making has shifted the focus on the role of
emotion linking the intensity of physiological responses to political beliefs. Contrary to the long-
held belief considering passions to be a negative force in human behavior, recent insights from
neuroscience suggest quite the opposite – that the experience of emotion is crucial to making
good decisions (e.g. LeDoux 1996). For example, Oxley et al. (2008) found that compared to
liberals, conservatives manifest stronger sympathetic nervous system activity (measured by skin
conductance) in response to threatening images and a harder eye blink response (an involuntary
reaction indicative of heightened fear) in response to startling auditory stimuli. Contemporary
research in social psychology indicates that emotions: (a) regulate the quantity and quality of
information processing; (b) elicit specific cognitive appraisals; (c) affect perceptions of risk; and
(d) increase the explanatory power of models of decision-making (Loewenstein and Lerner 2002).
Political psychologists have recently begun to explore the role of emotion in politics. Of course
each of these three main eras has witnessed the blossoming of a number of sub-theories and
models that have not been mentioned in this paper due to the limited scope and objective of this
essay.
II.2. The Operational Code Analysis (OCA)
Operational code analysis was originally developed by Leites (1951, 1953) to analyze the
decision-making style of the Soviet Politburo and later developed and refined by George (1969,
1979), Holsti (1977), and Walker (1983, 1990). The model focuses on the beliefs of political
leaders as causal mechanisms in explaining foreign policy decisions (Leites 1951, 1953; George
1969, 1979; Walker 1983, 1990; Walker and Schafer 2007). Accordingly, leader’s cognitive
schemata or belief system has two components. The first set is the five philosophical beliefs
about the political universe in which the leader finds themselves and the nature of the “other”
they face in this environment. Second, there are five instrumental beliefs that represent the image
of “self” in this political universe and the best strategies and tactics one could employ to achieve
one’s ends (George 1979; Walker 1990). Taken together they “explain diagnostic and choice
propensities of the agents who make foreign policy decisions” (Walker and Schafer: cited in
  5	
  
Melania G. Ciot, Chapter 4). The central assumption of operational code analysis is that
individual leaders matter in shaping the foreign policy of states and that the beliefs they have
might act as causal mechanisms in understanding why they chose a certain foreign policy
decision.
Beliefs, in this view, could have three idealized effects if they are going to act as causal
mechanisms in the explanation of foreign policy decisions (Cited in Melania G. Ciot, Chapter 4).
First, beliefs can have mirroring effects, which suggests that the environment is highly
transparent and they reflect the situation accurately and influence action. In this instance, they
are necessary conditions for action. Second, beliefs can have steering effects, which suggests that
even if they do not reflect reality they can still be the basis for action. In such a situation, beliefs
are both necessary and sufficient conditions for action. Third, beliefs can manifest learning
effects as they may change over time.
This learning effect influence future actions depending on whether they converge or
diverge from reality (Walker and Schafer 2004:3). Walker and Schafer (2005:4) clearly posit the
main question, “when and how do the beliefs of leaders act as pivotal causal mechanisms in
explaining and anticipating the processes of strategic interaction between states at several levels
of decision: moves, tactics, strategies, and policy preferences?”. Contemporary operational code
analysis uses an automated content analysis system called Verbs In Context System (VICS),
introduced by Walker, Schafer, and Young (1998: cited in Melania G. Ciot, Chapter 4). VICS
focuses on the verbs in the leader’s public statements and their attributions regarding exercise of
power to the Self and Others to construct quantitative indices that correspond to the
philosophical and instrumental beliefs. Because of the overall conceptual framework along with
the analytical tools the model offers, it is going to be applied in analyzing the underlying forces
and meaning of the set of behaviors that determined Holbrooke’s decision making during the
Dayton Peace Accord negotiations.
II.3. Historical Background of the Bosnian Conflict and the Dayton Accord
The Bosnian conflict broke out in the winter of 1992 when Bosnia and Herzegovina
proclaimed its independence. A move that triggered the Bosnian Serbs to rebel under the
leadership of Radovan Karadzic and created their own separate state in Bosnia -- the Serb
  6	
  
Republic or Republika Srpska – thanks to the military and political supports of the back then
Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic. Three years of ensuing fighting killed hundreds of
thousands, rendered two million people homeless and introduced the term "ethnic cleansing" into
everyday vocabulary. The Bosnian Serbs made their most important territorial gains early in the
war when they captured approximately 70 percent of Bosnia. What worsened the situation was
that the UN arms embargo imposed on all of the former Yugoslavia, in September 1991,
prevented the growth of the Bosnian Muslim army, which was consequently unable to counter
much stronger Bosnian Serb forces. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Bosnian Croats and
Muslims escalated into war over the remaining 30 percent of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The situation
improved somewhat in March 1994 when these two warring sides signed the Washington
Accords: they agreed to cease hostilities and to create a Croat-Muslim Federation.
In the period from April 1992 to late 1994, the US, the UN and the EU treated the wars in
the former Yugoslavia as an internal European problem, "a war without victims and aggressors"
in which all parties were addressed as "warring factions." Furthermore, The competing interests
of the European countries prevented the EU from acting as a single negotiating entity with clear
position. Instead, Western leaders held that all sides were equally responsible for the war. This
argument conceals an extremely important truth: in Bosnia, the Serbs committed 90 percent of all
the atrocities - including ethnic cleansing, systematic rape of women and mass executions.
However, the massacre of Sarajevo marketplace on February 5, 1994, and the Srebrenica
massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the UN "safe haven" in July 1995; which were
broadcast around the world by CNN was a turning point in the conflict, in which neither Europe
nor the US could continue ignoring the crimes committed by the Serbs. Hence, the world moved
away from the delusion of impartial peacekeeping and toward proclaiming the Serbs as
aggressors and the Muslims as victims. The change in the perceptions of the Western leaders
came at the same time as the situation on the ground began to change significantly in 1995.
After the effective intervention of the international community headed by the UN, the
Serb army retreated in disarray almost without any resistance at all; Milosevic did not come to
their rescue. Furthermore, the Croatian and the Bosnian Muslims' armies began their offensive
during the summer, and thus started to win back important portions of Western and Central
Bosnia. Finally, the economic and financial sanctions imposed on the FRY began to take a
  7	
  
visible toll on the Belgrade regime. At this point, the US Administration started to delineate the
basics of a new negotiation effort in Bosnia. This new effort would be headed for the first time
by the United States and would entail not only intensive diplomacy but also the use of NATO’s
threat to use force to push the parties into an agreement that would finally end the war. Richard
Holbrooke was the person chosen by the US Administration to inaugurate what would be a new
era in Balkan Diplomacy. The US Peace Initiative was unveiled on August 9, 1995. Of course it
went through different challenging political, strategic and diplomatic phases, negotiations, and
interactions. The table below summarizes the most salient dates of the US mediations.
Dates Events
August 16, 1995 The introduction of the U.S. Peace Plan and the beginning of Holbrooke's mediation effort
September 8, 1995 The Geneva Accord The question of integrity of the state was worked out
September 16, 1995 The suspension of NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serbs
September 26,1995 The New York Accord The constitutional arrangements for Bosnia- Herzegovina were
worked out.
October 5, 1995 The Cease-fire Agreement
November 1, 1995 The beginning of the peace talks in Dayton, Ohio
November 21,1995 The text of the Dayton Peace Agreement documents has been initialed in Dayton
December 14, 1995 The Dayton Peace Agreement has been signed in Paris.
II.4. A Brief Biography of Holbrooke
Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European
and Canadian Affairs from 1994 through 1996, during which time he led the Bosnian peace talks,
which resulted in the Dayton Peace Accords. Prior to becoming Assistant Secretary of State, he
was U.S. Ambassador to Germany; then responsible for business development in Europe and the
far East for Credit Suisse First Boston. He also acted as President Clinton's special envoy to
Cyprus, and consulted with the White House on foreign policy issues. Ambassador Holbrooke
was a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Citizens Committee for New
York City, and the Economic Club of New York. Prior to that, he had been a Director of the
Council on Foreign Relations, the America-China Society, the National Committee on U.S.-
China Relations, and the International Rescue Committee.
Furthermore, he was a Chairman of the American Academy in Berlin. He also co-
authored Counsel to the President, the memoirs of Clark Clifford, as well as numerous articles
and columns on foreign policy. In his book, “To End A War”, Holbrooke grips inside account of
  8	
  
his mission when President Clinton sent him to Bosnia as America's chief negotiator in late 1995.
Thanks to his relentless prodding and deft maneuvering negotiation strategy, the United States
reasserted its moral authority and leadership and ended Europe's worst war in over half a century.
“To End a War” reveals many important new details of how America made the historic decision
of mediating the Bosnian conflict. Holbrooke hoped to repeat the same successful story as
President Obama's chief envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he died on Monday December
13th
, 2010, in Washington of complications from surgery to repair a torn aorta; at the age of 69.
III. Operational Code Analysis of Holbrooke Mediation Strategy
This section provides a psychological analysis by means of the operational code model of
Holbrooke negotiation and mediation strategies during the Bosnian conflict. It is very important
to highlight at this point the fact that the US was not part of the conflict but rather a mediator.
This means that decision making was all between the hand of all the parties that were involved in
the conflict, and the role of the US revolved mainly around bringing all those conflicting parties
to sit on a table and reach an agreement that would put an end to the killing and bring peace to
the region. Knowing this is very important to understand the difficulty of the task put on the
shoulders on the US peace envoy, Richard Holbrooke. In other words, Holbrooke was put in a
very challenging situation, because his role was not about taking decisions but rather convincing
the Serbs, the Croats, and the Bosnian Muslim leaders to agree on cease fire and on a mutually
satisfactory territorial division of the fought for soil.
This task required Holbrooke to be politically, strategically, communicatively, and
morally well prepared with a comprehensive plan and tactics that would respond to the
expectations of the US diplomacy, the countries in conflict, the UN, and the media. Being aware
of these, among many other factors, Holbrooke’s developed strategy was significantly influenced
by his embraced beliefs about the historical, political and contextual itineraries of the situation he
had to solve. The analyzed data were collected from video interviews with Holbrooke, as well as
videos of US presidents (Bill Clinton & Obama) and other high ranked US decision makers who
worked closely with Holbrooke, in addition to a modest bibliographical research on what has
been recorded on the literatures about this studied case.
Holbrooke political beliefs about international relations hosted a strange mixture of
  9	
  
determination, aggression as well as readiness to cooperate even with rivals for peace. He tended
to see miscommunication and misunderstanding as the roots of the conflict in international
system. He believed that opponents would respond in kind to conciliation and firmness. He
attributed low level of control over historical developments to his opponents, believing that he
had the ability to shape the course of the events and can persuade his opponents to follow his
lead. His instrumental beliefs and his sense of high level of control helped to pursue his goals in
a non-conflictual way and stresses shared norms, negotiations, even though he would not mind
the use of military methods to bring his opponents to the table of negotiation.
Thanks to his belief in his control over the developments of the events after the cease fire
agreement in 1995, he felt motivated to develop more ambitious steps while controlling his risk
by limiting the means rather than ends he pursued. This is something that was reflected in the
way he dealt with the media. In trying to control any potential risks, Holbrooke said in an
interview, “I was very careful in dealing with media, and I had to accept every single criticism
directed to me by the media.” These behavioral acts stemmed from his deep belief that media
could revert all the events and turn every effort up side down. It also unveils the cold-blooded
attitudes Holbrooke had to adopt, because he knew that what was at risk was not his personality
or ego, but rather the ego of the whole US foreign diplomacy as well as the million lives of the
Muslim Bosnians. In other words, Holbrooke’s operational code suggests that he believed that in
a world that is rather competitive and in which the opponents would respond aggressively to his
actions, a leader with the ability to control the momentum of events development can devise
ambitious plans and could carry them out by using cooperative means to achieve them,
especially when dealing with leaders who survived the communist regimes.
Interestingly, while his behavioral codes tended to subscribe to this risk control strategy,
Holbrooke perceptions and understandings of the conflict did not eliminate the worldview in
which the conflict would be a permanent predicament, whatever the cause of it might be. This is
the typical American realist view of the world that is based on power relations, prudence and
caution in world politics. He also attributed a relatively low level of control to his opponents.
Instead, he was very meticulous about the most boring details when he had to hold meetings with
any of the leaders of the conflicts. This attitude had been constructed in the mind of Holbrooke
since the war on Vietnam. In his book “To End A War,” Holbrooke says, “In diplomacy, details
  10	
  
matter. During the 1968 peace talks with the North Vietnamese, we had famously wasted more
than two months arguing [with Hanoi] over the shape of the negotiating table, while the war
continued.”
During the Dayton negotiations process, Holbrooke quickly learned how overly sensitive
each of the leaders were. If he or another team member paid more attention to one leader, the
other would become upset and withdraw from the group. Their over-inflated egos were fragile
and each had to be given the required attention he needed. Knowing how much attention the
leaders needed and when, was a challenging aspect of the negotiations and very time consuming.
Holbrooke’s perception and understanding of their personalities and motives allowed him to
ameliorate relations between them and boost their sensitive egos. This ultimately saved the
negotiations process on numerous occasions.
Although these instances were unapparent to many, Holbrooke’s past experiences with
the leaders and understanding of their desires provided him with this significant negotiating
advantage. An obvious lesson is the value of thoroughly researching and understanding the
agents involved, as well as cultivating relationships with them to better understand them. This
time commitment is often needed to achieve certain outcomes—especially when the
relationships of the agents involved are complex and delicate. Holbrooke succeeded in
conducting a “transactional mediation” by using a “lock-in” strategy—i.e. he would get step by
step commitment from each of the parties, and persuade them to agree to one thing, and then a
little more the next time. This gradual but clever approach allowed him to more easily change the
parties’ perceptions.
Holbrooke was incredibly committed to obtaining his goal (and the government’s) and
would push forward even when most were exhausted. Roger Fisher describes Holbrooke as more
of a gladiator than a mediator. However, his gladiator tactics were effective in dealing with the
Balkan leaders. Several other negotiating styles—such as those of the Europeans, the UN, and
President Carter—had proven ineffective and played into the hands of the Balkan leaders. As
Holbrooke witnessed, the Balkan leaders responded only to pressure and a forceful bullying
approach. It is apparent that one must alter his/her negotiating style according to how the other
parties respond. Not many mediators are able to do this, but fortunately, Holbrooke was perfectly
suited for the job.
  11	
  
IV. Conclusion
As passionate as he was controversial, Holbrooke believed that the only way to bring
peace to the Balkans was through a complex blend of American leadership, aggressive and
creative diplomacy, and a willingness to use force, if necessary, in the cause for peace. This was
not a universally popular view. Resistance was fierce within the United Nations and the
chronically divided Contact Group, and in Washington, where many argued that the United
States should not get more deeply involved. What George F. Kennan has called Holbrooke's
"heroic efforts" were shaped by the enormous tragedy with which the mission began, when three
of his four team members were killed during their first attempt to reach Sarajevo. In Belgrade,
Sarajevo, Zagreb, Paris, Athens, and Ankara, and throughout the dramatic roller-coaster ride at
Dayton, he tirelessly imposed, cajoled, and threatened in the quest to stop the killing and forge a
peace agreement. Holbrooke's portraits of the key actors, from officials in the White House and
the Élysée Palace to the leaders in the Balkans, are sharp and unforgiving. His explanation of
how the United States was finally forced to intervene breaks important new ground, as does his
discussion of the near disaster in the early period of the implementation of the Dayton agreement.
Bibliography
1. Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The
Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper.
2. Almond, Gabriel. (1954). The Appeals of Communism. Princeton: Princeton University
Press.
3. Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren Miller, & Donald Stokes. (1960). The
American Voter. New York: Wiley.
4. Eysenck, Hans J. (1954). The Psychology of Politics. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
Ltd.
5. Festinger, Leon. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford
University Press.
6. Howard Lavine. (2010) A Sketch of Political Psychology. SAGE Library for Political
Science. Minnesota: University of Minnesota
7. LeDoux, Joseph. (1996). The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of
Emotional Life. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  12	
  
8. Loewenstein, George, & Jennifer S. Lerner. (2002). The Role of Affect in Decision
Making. In R. Davidson, K. Scherer, & H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of Affective
Science (pp. 619–642). New York: Oxford University Press.
9. Oxley, Douglas R. et al. (2008). Political Attitudes Vary with Psychological Traits.
Science, 1667–1670.
In Memoriam: Richard Holbrooke on Dayton Agreement
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO2wWvb9HaQ
Envera Selimovic: Richard Holbrooke - To End a War
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFYfDNf-VTg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRjx0Fi6mnc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeNod9NJt3U
Remembering Richard Holbrooke's Extraordinary Life
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iiu3Gf1chH8
Photo of the World Leaders at the Signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement

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  • 1. UNIVERSITY  OF  BABES  BOLYAI   FACULTY  OF  EUROPEAN  STUDIES   CLUJ-­‐NAPOCA,  ROMANIA  2014                 The Archetect and the Ruin: Richard C. Holbrooke and the Bosnian Conflict Abdeslam  Badre,  PhD   ABSTRACT   Research based findings have already shown that factors in the management of critical situations in the field of foreign policies and multi-lateral negotiations do not only require an understanding of the contextual, political, social, and strategic factors of those situations but also, and maybe more importantly, they necessitate a deep grasp of a number of psychological factors that affect the management and proceeding of international negotiations and mediations of the leader. The paper attempts to materialize its objectives by scrutinizing one of the most influential diplomats and foreign envoys the US foreign policy has witnessed during the last half of 20th century: Richard C. Holbrooke. In order to narrow the scope of this essay, the paper will focus on the Holbrooke’s Dayton Peace Accord that put an end to the tragic war in Bosnia, in 1995. Since the debate here is about the psychological dimension in foreign decision making, the focus then will be on sketching out an analysis of personality traits of Holbrooke, not simply as an individual; but Holbrooke the architect of one of the most recent and most challenging peace treaties in the post-cold war Eastern Europe. Accordingly, the Operational Code model (OCA) is adopted as the main framework of analysis, since it focuses on the beliefs of political leaders as causal mechanisms in foreign policy decisions.
  • 2.   2   I.  Introduction “Richard was brilliant, blunt and he did fight until the end of the battle for what he believed in. There are many of us in this audience who’ve had the experience of Richard calling ten times a day if he had to say something urgent and, of course, he believed that everything he had to say was urgent; and if he could not reach you, he would call your staff; he’d wait outside your office; he’d walk to meeting to which he was not invited, act like he was meant to be there and just start talking. I personally received Richard Holbrooke’s treatment many times. He would give me homework. He would declare I had to take one more meeting, make one more stop. There was no escaping him. He would follow me onto a stage, as I was about to give a speech, into my hotel room, and, on at least one occasion, into a ladies room (pause with a smile on the face; audience are laughing and applauding) in Pakistan!!!” (Hilary Clinton, former secretary of State of America. Quoted from the video, “Remembering Richard Holbrooke's Extraordinary Life”) This is how former secretary of State of America, Hilary Clinton, described Richard Holbrooke during his memorial day that was organized by the White House in Washington DC. But, who is Richard Holbrooke? And why is he being the subject of this paper? Answers to these questions, among others, partially constitute the reason why this paper is being written. This paper endeavors to investigate the role of the psychological parameters in foreign policy decision-making. Research based findings have already shown that factors in the management of critical situations in the field of foreign policies and multi-lateral negotiations do not only require an understanding of the contextual, political, social, and strategic factors of those situations but also, and maybe more importantly, they necessitate a deep grasp of a number of psychological factors that affect the management and proceeding of international negotiations and mediations of the leader/agent. For instance, when faced with a critical situation, the State agents’ interpretation (be they diplomats or decision makers) of the situation is significantly influenced by both internal and external factors such as: the identified goals and values, the nature of the situation itself, the availability of information, time pressures, the behavior of the individuals included in the situation, the organizational culture, standard doctrine and procedures, and group dynamics, among many other situational, contextual, and personal elements. This implies that the psychological dimensions play a key role in determining the decision-maker’s approach to and implementation strategy of negotiations. In order to put these abstract ideas into context, the paper attempts to materialize its
  • 3.   3   objectives by scrutinizing one of the most influential diplomats and foreign envoys the US foreign policy has ever given birth to during the 2nd half of the 20th century. He is the token of peace in the post-cold war Balkan region: Richard C. Holbrooke. In order to narrow the scope of this essay, the paper will focus on the psychological factors that influenced Holbrooke during the Dayton Peace Accord that put an end to the tragic war in Bosnia, in 1995. Since the debate here is about the psychological dimension in foreign decision making, the focus then will be on sketching out an analysis of the beliefs that shaped Holbrooke’s decisions, not simply as an individual; but Holbrooke the architect of one of the most recent and most challenging peace treaties in the post-cold war Eastern Europe. Accordingly, I will opt for the Operational Code Analysis approach (OCA) since this model focuses on the beliefs of political leaders as causal mechanisms in explaining foreign policy decisions. Before delving into the main analysis, I will provide a brief review of the literature, which will branch out into three subsections: the first section will briefly go over the historical development of political psychology theory and its evolution in the field of foreign policy decision making with a focus on the OCA model; the second subsection will provide a historical summary about the Bosnian conflict as well as the Dayton Peace Accord; and finally the third subsection will account for a short biography of Richard Holbrooke. II. Literature Review II.1. The Development of the Field of Political Psychology The first era of research in political psychology focused not only on psychoanalysis, but also, on personality theory more broadly and on the influence of childhood socialization and the broader culture on adult political preferences. A great deal of research during this period, (e.g., Adorno et al. 1950; Almond 1954; and Eysenck 1954) fleshed out the general hypothesis that diverse aspects of personality – including anxiety, aggressiveness, ego-strength, self-esteem, dogmatism and social dominance – can play a critical role in determining individual political attitudes and organizing political belief systems. As interest in psychodynamic psychology waned after the 1950s, researchers turned to other conceptual frameworks to explain political behavior, including cognitive consistency theory (Festinger 1957), reference group theory (Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes 1960) and rational choice theory (Downs 1957). By the 1980s, a focus on the ingredients of policy attitudes and vote choice gave way to the cognitive
  • 4.   4   revolution – ushering in the third flourishing of political psychology – as scholars turned their attention to the way in which information is acquired, represented and organized in memory and retrieved in making political judgments. Third generation of research on decision-making has shifted the focus on the role of emotion linking the intensity of physiological responses to political beliefs. Contrary to the long- held belief considering passions to be a negative force in human behavior, recent insights from neuroscience suggest quite the opposite – that the experience of emotion is crucial to making good decisions (e.g. LeDoux 1996). For example, Oxley et al. (2008) found that compared to liberals, conservatives manifest stronger sympathetic nervous system activity (measured by skin conductance) in response to threatening images and a harder eye blink response (an involuntary reaction indicative of heightened fear) in response to startling auditory stimuli. Contemporary research in social psychology indicates that emotions: (a) regulate the quantity and quality of information processing; (b) elicit specific cognitive appraisals; (c) affect perceptions of risk; and (d) increase the explanatory power of models of decision-making (Loewenstein and Lerner 2002). Political psychologists have recently begun to explore the role of emotion in politics. Of course each of these three main eras has witnessed the blossoming of a number of sub-theories and models that have not been mentioned in this paper due to the limited scope and objective of this essay. II.2. The Operational Code Analysis (OCA) Operational code analysis was originally developed by Leites (1951, 1953) to analyze the decision-making style of the Soviet Politburo and later developed and refined by George (1969, 1979), Holsti (1977), and Walker (1983, 1990). The model focuses on the beliefs of political leaders as causal mechanisms in explaining foreign policy decisions (Leites 1951, 1953; George 1969, 1979; Walker 1983, 1990; Walker and Schafer 2007). Accordingly, leader’s cognitive schemata or belief system has two components. The first set is the five philosophical beliefs about the political universe in which the leader finds themselves and the nature of the “other” they face in this environment. Second, there are five instrumental beliefs that represent the image of “self” in this political universe and the best strategies and tactics one could employ to achieve one’s ends (George 1979; Walker 1990). Taken together they “explain diagnostic and choice propensities of the agents who make foreign policy decisions” (Walker and Schafer: cited in
  • 5.   5   Melania G. Ciot, Chapter 4). The central assumption of operational code analysis is that individual leaders matter in shaping the foreign policy of states and that the beliefs they have might act as causal mechanisms in understanding why they chose a certain foreign policy decision. Beliefs, in this view, could have three idealized effects if they are going to act as causal mechanisms in the explanation of foreign policy decisions (Cited in Melania G. Ciot, Chapter 4). First, beliefs can have mirroring effects, which suggests that the environment is highly transparent and they reflect the situation accurately and influence action. In this instance, they are necessary conditions for action. Second, beliefs can have steering effects, which suggests that even if they do not reflect reality they can still be the basis for action. In such a situation, beliefs are both necessary and sufficient conditions for action. Third, beliefs can manifest learning effects as they may change over time. This learning effect influence future actions depending on whether they converge or diverge from reality (Walker and Schafer 2004:3). Walker and Schafer (2005:4) clearly posit the main question, “when and how do the beliefs of leaders act as pivotal causal mechanisms in explaining and anticipating the processes of strategic interaction between states at several levels of decision: moves, tactics, strategies, and policy preferences?”. Contemporary operational code analysis uses an automated content analysis system called Verbs In Context System (VICS), introduced by Walker, Schafer, and Young (1998: cited in Melania G. Ciot, Chapter 4). VICS focuses on the verbs in the leader’s public statements and their attributions regarding exercise of power to the Self and Others to construct quantitative indices that correspond to the philosophical and instrumental beliefs. Because of the overall conceptual framework along with the analytical tools the model offers, it is going to be applied in analyzing the underlying forces and meaning of the set of behaviors that determined Holbrooke’s decision making during the Dayton Peace Accord negotiations. II.3. Historical Background of the Bosnian Conflict and the Dayton Accord The Bosnian conflict broke out in the winter of 1992 when Bosnia and Herzegovina proclaimed its independence. A move that triggered the Bosnian Serbs to rebel under the leadership of Radovan Karadzic and created their own separate state in Bosnia -- the Serb
  • 6.   6   Republic or Republika Srpska – thanks to the military and political supports of the back then Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic. Three years of ensuing fighting killed hundreds of thousands, rendered two million people homeless and introduced the term "ethnic cleansing" into everyday vocabulary. The Bosnian Serbs made their most important territorial gains early in the war when they captured approximately 70 percent of Bosnia. What worsened the situation was that the UN arms embargo imposed on all of the former Yugoslavia, in September 1991, prevented the growth of the Bosnian Muslim army, which was consequently unable to counter much stronger Bosnian Serb forces. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Bosnian Croats and Muslims escalated into war over the remaining 30 percent of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The situation improved somewhat in March 1994 when these two warring sides signed the Washington Accords: they agreed to cease hostilities and to create a Croat-Muslim Federation. In the period from April 1992 to late 1994, the US, the UN and the EU treated the wars in the former Yugoslavia as an internal European problem, "a war without victims and aggressors" in which all parties were addressed as "warring factions." Furthermore, The competing interests of the European countries prevented the EU from acting as a single negotiating entity with clear position. Instead, Western leaders held that all sides were equally responsible for the war. This argument conceals an extremely important truth: in Bosnia, the Serbs committed 90 percent of all the atrocities - including ethnic cleansing, systematic rape of women and mass executions. However, the massacre of Sarajevo marketplace on February 5, 1994, and the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the UN "safe haven" in July 1995; which were broadcast around the world by CNN was a turning point in the conflict, in which neither Europe nor the US could continue ignoring the crimes committed by the Serbs. Hence, the world moved away from the delusion of impartial peacekeeping and toward proclaiming the Serbs as aggressors and the Muslims as victims. The change in the perceptions of the Western leaders came at the same time as the situation on the ground began to change significantly in 1995. After the effective intervention of the international community headed by the UN, the Serb army retreated in disarray almost without any resistance at all; Milosevic did not come to their rescue. Furthermore, the Croatian and the Bosnian Muslims' armies began their offensive during the summer, and thus started to win back important portions of Western and Central Bosnia. Finally, the economic and financial sanctions imposed on the FRY began to take a
  • 7.   7   visible toll on the Belgrade regime. At this point, the US Administration started to delineate the basics of a new negotiation effort in Bosnia. This new effort would be headed for the first time by the United States and would entail not only intensive diplomacy but also the use of NATO’s threat to use force to push the parties into an agreement that would finally end the war. Richard Holbrooke was the person chosen by the US Administration to inaugurate what would be a new era in Balkan Diplomacy. The US Peace Initiative was unveiled on August 9, 1995. Of course it went through different challenging political, strategic and diplomatic phases, negotiations, and interactions. The table below summarizes the most salient dates of the US mediations. Dates Events August 16, 1995 The introduction of the U.S. Peace Plan and the beginning of Holbrooke's mediation effort September 8, 1995 The Geneva Accord The question of integrity of the state was worked out September 16, 1995 The suspension of NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serbs September 26,1995 The New York Accord The constitutional arrangements for Bosnia- Herzegovina were worked out. October 5, 1995 The Cease-fire Agreement November 1, 1995 The beginning of the peace talks in Dayton, Ohio November 21,1995 The text of the Dayton Peace Agreement documents has been initialed in Dayton December 14, 1995 The Dayton Peace Agreement has been signed in Paris. II.4. A Brief Biography of Holbrooke Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs from 1994 through 1996, during which time he led the Bosnian peace talks, which resulted in the Dayton Peace Accords. Prior to becoming Assistant Secretary of State, he was U.S. Ambassador to Germany; then responsible for business development in Europe and the far East for Credit Suisse First Boston. He also acted as President Clinton's special envoy to Cyprus, and consulted with the White House on foreign policy issues. Ambassador Holbrooke was a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Citizens Committee for New York City, and the Economic Club of New York. Prior to that, he had been a Director of the Council on Foreign Relations, the America-China Society, the National Committee on U.S.- China Relations, and the International Rescue Committee. Furthermore, he was a Chairman of the American Academy in Berlin. He also co- authored Counsel to the President, the memoirs of Clark Clifford, as well as numerous articles and columns on foreign policy. In his book, “To End A War”, Holbrooke grips inside account of
  • 8.   8   his mission when President Clinton sent him to Bosnia as America's chief negotiator in late 1995. Thanks to his relentless prodding and deft maneuvering negotiation strategy, the United States reasserted its moral authority and leadership and ended Europe's worst war in over half a century. “To End a War” reveals many important new details of how America made the historic decision of mediating the Bosnian conflict. Holbrooke hoped to repeat the same successful story as President Obama's chief envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he died on Monday December 13th , 2010, in Washington of complications from surgery to repair a torn aorta; at the age of 69. III. Operational Code Analysis of Holbrooke Mediation Strategy This section provides a psychological analysis by means of the operational code model of Holbrooke negotiation and mediation strategies during the Bosnian conflict. It is very important to highlight at this point the fact that the US was not part of the conflict but rather a mediator. This means that decision making was all between the hand of all the parties that were involved in the conflict, and the role of the US revolved mainly around bringing all those conflicting parties to sit on a table and reach an agreement that would put an end to the killing and bring peace to the region. Knowing this is very important to understand the difficulty of the task put on the shoulders on the US peace envoy, Richard Holbrooke. In other words, Holbrooke was put in a very challenging situation, because his role was not about taking decisions but rather convincing the Serbs, the Croats, and the Bosnian Muslim leaders to agree on cease fire and on a mutually satisfactory territorial division of the fought for soil. This task required Holbrooke to be politically, strategically, communicatively, and morally well prepared with a comprehensive plan and tactics that would respond to the expectations of the US diplomacy, the countries in conflict, the UN, and the media. Being aware of these, among many other factors, Holbrooke’s developed strategy was significantly influenced by his embraced beliefs about the historical, political and contextual itineraries of the situation he had to solve. The analyzed data were collected from video interviews with Holbrooke, as well as videos of US presidents (Bill Clinton & Obama) and other high ranked US decision makers who worked closely with Holbrooke, in addition to a modest bibliographical research on what has been recorded on the literatures about this studied case. Holbrooke political beliefs about international relations hosted a strange mixture of
  • 9.   9   determination, aggression as well as readiness to cooperate even with rivals for peace. He tended to see miscommunication and misunderstanding as the roots of the conflict in international system. He believed that opponents would respond in kind to conciliation and firmness. He attributed low level of control over historical developments to his opponents, believing that he had the ability to shape the course of the events and can persuade his opponents to follow his lead. His instrumental beliefs and his sense of high level of control helped to pursue his goals in a non-conflictual way and stresses shared norms, negotiations, even though he would not mind the use of military methods to bring his opponents to the table of negotiation. Thanks to his belief in his control over the developments of the events after the cease fire agreement in 1995, he felt motivated to develop more ambitious steps while controlling his risk by limiting the means rather than ends he pursued. This is something that was reflected in the way he dealt with the media. In trying to control any potential risks, Holbrooke said in an interview, “I was very careful in dealing with media, and I had to accept every single criticism directed to me by the media.” These behavioral acts stemmed from his deep belief that media could revert all the events and turn every effort up side down. It also unveils the cold-blooded attitudes Holbrooke had to adopt, because he knew that what was at risk was not his personality or ego, but rather the ego of the whole US foreign diplomacy as well as the million lives of the Muslim Bosnians. In other words, Holbrooke’s operational code suggests that he believed that in a world that is rather competitive and in which the opponents would respond aggressively to his actions, a leader with the ability to control the momentum of events development can devise ambitious plans and could carry them out by using cooperative means to achieve them, especially when dealing with leaders who survived the communist regimes. Interestingly, while his behavioral codes tended to subscribe to this risk control strategy, Holbrooke perceptions and understandings of the conflict did not eliminate the worldview in which the conflict would be a permanent predicament, whatever the cause of it might be. This is the typical American realist view of the world that is based on power relations, prudence and caution in world politics. He also attributed a relatively low level of control to his opponents. Instead, he was very meticulous about the most boring details when he had to hold meetings with any of the leaders of the conflicts. This attitude had been constructed in the mind of Holbrooke since the war on Vietnam. In his book “To End A War,” Holbrooke says, “In diplomacy, details
  • 10.   10   matter. During the 1968 peace talks with the North Vietnamese, we had famously wasted more than two months arguing [with Hanoi] over the shape of the negotiating table, while the war continued.” During the Dayton negotiations process, Holbrooke quickly learned how overly sensitive each of the leaders were. If he or another team member paid more attention to one leader, the other would become upset and withdraw from the group. Their over-inflated egos were fragile and each had to be given the required attention he needed. Knowing how much attention the leaders needed and when, was a challenging aspect of the negotiations and very time consuming. Holbrooke’s perception and understanding of their personalities and motives allowed him to ameliorate relations between them and boost their sensitive egos. This ultimately saved the negotiations process on numerous occasions. Although these instances were unapparent to many, Holbrooke’s past experiences with the leaders and understanding of their desires provided him with this significant negotiating advantage. An obvious lesson is the value of thoroughly researching and understanding the agents involved, as well as cultivating relationships with them to better understand them. This time commitment is often needed to achieve certain outcomes—especially when the relationships of the agents involved are complex and delicate. Holbrooke succeeded in conducting a “transactional mediation” by using a “lock-in” strategy—i.e. he would get step by step commitment from each of the parties, and persuade them to agree to one thing, and then a little more the next time. This gradual but clever approach allowed him to more easily change the parties’ perceptions. Holbrooke was incredibly committed to obtaining his goal (and the government’s) and would push forward even when most were exhausted. Roger Fisher describes Holbrooke as more of a gladiator than a mediator. However, his gladiator tactics were effective in dealing with the Balkan leaders. Several other negotiating styles—such as those of the Europeans, the UN, and President Carter—had proven ineffective and played into the hands of the Balkan leaders. As Holbrooke witnessed, the Balkan leaders responded only to pressure and a forceful bullying approach. It is apparent that one must alter his/her negotiating style according to how the other parties respond. Not many mediators are able to do this, but fortunately, Holbrooke was perfectly suited for the job.
  • 11.   11   IV. Conclusion As passionate as he was controversial, Holbrooke believed that the only way to bring peace to the Balkans was through a complex blend of American leadership, aggressive and creative diplomacy, and a willingness to use force, if necessary, in the cause for peace. This was not a universally popular view. Resistance was fierce within the United Nations and the chronically divided Contact Group, and in Washington, where many argued that the United States should not get more deeply involved. What George F. Kennan has called Holbrooke's "heroic efforts" were shaped by the enormous tragedy with which the mission began, when three of his four team members were killed during their first attempt to reach Sarajevo. In Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Paris, Athens, and Ankara, and throughout the dramatic roller-coaster ride at Dayton, he tirelessly imposed, cajoled, and threatened in the quest to stop the killing and forge a peace agreement. Holbrooke's portraits of the key actors, from officials in the White House and the Élysée Palace to the leaders in the Balkans, are sharp and unforgiving. His explanation of how the United States was finally forced to intervene breaks important new ground, as does his discussion of the near disaster in the early period of the implementation of the Dayton agreement. Bibliography 1. Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper. 2. Almond, Gabriel. (1954). The Appeals of Communism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 3. Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren Miller, & Donald Stokes. (1960). The American Voter. New York: Wiley. 4. Eysenck, Hans J. (1954). The Psychology of Politics. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. 5. Festinger, Leon. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. 6. Howard Lavine. (2010) A Sketch of Political Psychology. SAGE Library for Political Science. Minnesota: University of Minnesota 7. LeDoux, Joseph. (1996). The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • 12.   12   8. Loewenstein, George, & Jennifer S. Lerner. (2002). The Role of Affect in Decision Making. In R. Davidson, K. Scherer, & H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of Affective Science (pp. 619–642). New York: Oxford University Press. 9. Oxley, Douglas R. et al. (2008). Political Attitudes Vary with Psychological Traits. Science, 1667–1670. In Memoriam: Richard Holbrooke on Dayton Agreement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO2wWvb9HaQ Envera Selimovic: Richard Holbrooke - To End a War http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFYfDNf-VTg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRjx0Fi6mnc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeNod9NJt3U Remembering Richard Holbrooke's Extraordinary Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iiu3Gf1chH8 Photo of the World Leaders at the Signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement