The Power of Moral Suasion in International Mediation
By Eileen Babbit
This Article Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: Eileen Babbit, "Jimmy Carter: The Power of Moral Suasion in International Mediation" in Deborah Kolb, ed., When Talk Works, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1994), pp. 378-388.
President Carter usesdtrust and personal relationships, as well as moral power and emotion, to prevent negotiations from breaking down during Camp David.
When Sadat threatened to leave the summit, Carter met with him privately. Carter explained to Sadat that by withdrawing, Sadat would be breaking his personal promise to Carter. Leaving, Carter said, would damage the trust and their personal friendship. Withdrawing at that point would also damage the relationship between their nations. By emphasizing the value of trust and friendship, as well as the moral value of a promise, Carter persuaded Sadat to remain.
Carter did the same with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. As talks threatened to break down at the last minute, Carter made skillful use of his personal relationship with Begin and emotions to reassure and recommit Begin to the talks. He did this by making a personal visit to Begin, bringing him photographs which Carter had autographed with the names of each of Begin's grandchildren. The gesture moved Begin deeply. The two men shared a personal discussion about their grandchildren, about war, and about the future. By realizing the importance of peace to his country and his grandchildren, Begin was persuaded to stay as well.