Summary of "The Consequences of Agreements"

Summary of

The Consequences of Agreements

By Louis Kriesberg

This Article Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Kriesberg, Louis, "The Consequences of Agreements," chap. in International Conflict Resolution, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992) pp. 156-178.

Kriesberg draws on Egyptian-Israeli and on U.S.-Soviet relations to illustrate the various consequences of de-escalation agreements. He examines consequences in six general areas: implementation of de-escalation agreements, views of the adversary, military spending, trade and other exchanges between the adversaries, conflictive and cooperative behaviors, and domestic policies.


Generally, formal de-escalation agreements have been implemented. Negotiations at Camp David produced a successful and enduring peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. On the matter of the Palestinians and disputed territories the Camp David Accords did result in further negotiations. However those further negotiations broke down without producing an agreement.

While U.S.-Soviet agreements have not been repudiated, the degree of implementation has varied. Arms control agreements have been implemented and basically adhered to. This is because arms control agreements rest on the acknowledgment of military parity between the U.S. and the USSR, a status the USSR was eager to have recognized. However, in 1986 the U.S. declared that it would not abide by the SALT II agreement. The 1972 Basic Principles Agreement, while not repudiated, was never implemented.

Views of the Adversary

Surveys found that Israelis had a relatively high opinion of Arab interest in peace during the separation of forces negotiations after the October 1973 war. Opinion dropped somewhat after the agreement was signed, with 20 to 35 percent of Israeli citizens agreeing that Arab nations were ready to discuss real peace with Israel. Israeli public opinion rose sharply when Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem, but again dropped somewhat after the Israel-Egypt peace treaty was completed. The U.S. public showed strong disapproval of the USSR in the early 1950s. That antagonism decreased steadily through the 1960s and by the early 1970s American public opinion had warmed sharply. This improving view occurred as the U.S. and the Soviets reached de-escalation agreements (in 1955, and 1963) and the Soviet Union began its campaign for peaceful coexistence. U.S. public opinion of the USSR worsened during the early 1980s. Kriesberg attributed this downturn to disillusionment after détente, the rise of political conservatism in the U.S., and opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Military Expenditures

Egypt's military spending dropped sharply after the peace treaty with Israel. Israel's military spending decreased only slightly, however, as Israel still faced threats from other Arab nations.

Soviet military spending increased steadily through the 1960s and 1970s. Spending increased despite arms control agreements and détente. However, military spending was a very significant element of the Soviet domestic economy. Spending decreased in the mid-1980s, as Gorbachev's administration embarked on a program of glasnost. U.S. military spending has also been heavily influenced by domestic concerns, and by other conflicts. Spending increased for the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The drop in U.S. military spending after the Vietnam War may have been further facilitated by détente. Military spending also tends to increase slightly before presidential elections.


Initially, trade between Israel and Egypt and the other Arab nation was virtually non- existent. The Egypt-Israel peace treaty was followed by increasing trade between the nations, though Egyptian trade dropped off after Israel invaded Lebanon. Many Israelis visited Egypt as tourists. Relatively few Egyptian tourists visit Israel, however, and Israel takes this to indicate that the peace with Egypt is a cold one. Since there is less U.S. demand for Soviet goods than there is Soviet demand for American goods, overall Soviet export rates are lower than American export rates at any given time. Taking this basic asymmetry into account, Kriesberg examines the fluctuations in the rates of export. Soviet exports to the U.S. were low through the 1960s, but increased sharply in the early stages of détente. Exports to the U.S. dropped following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but rose again in the late 1980s. Similarly, American exports to the USSR were low through the 1960s, although grain exports increased after the 1963 grain agreement. Exports to the USSR increased during détente, and increased through the 1970s. American exports dropped after the invasion of Afghanistan, but only to their 1974 levels.

Cultural and scientific exchanges between the U.S. and USSR increased steadily throughout the Cold War period. The official exchanges of academic personnel declined somewhat during the tensions of the early 1980s. However private and unofficial exchanges continued and even increased during this period.

Conflictive and Cooperative Behaviors

The complex and interconnected nature of Middle East conflicts makes it difficult to isolate the behavioral consequences of any one de-escalation agreement. Initially, as with trade, cooperative behavior between Israel and Egypt and the other Arab nation was virtually non- existent. Low levels of cooperation between Israel and Egypt began after their 1973 disengagement agreement. Cooperation increased after the peace treaty in 1979. However, conflictive behaviors continued even as cooperative behaviors increased, due in part to continued Egypt-Israeli conflict over the Palestinians.

U.S. and Soviet behaviors have generally paralleled each other. Cooperative behavior tended to increase with de-escalation negotiations and agreements. Cooperation peaked during détente in the early 1970s. Conflictive behaviors, often by carried out by allies and proxies, increased as détente broke down and both superpowers competed for influence in the Third World.

Domestic Policies

Israeli policies which grant automatic citizenship to immigrant Jews, and policies which deny the right of Palestinians to return to territory evacuated during the war, remain in place despite strong Arab opposition. Egyptian education and media portrayals regarding Israel have improved some since their peace treaty.

Contrary to the popular opinion of the time, the USSR has not been inclined to demand changes in American domestic policies. The U.S. however has pressured the Soviet Union to change its domestic policies regarding human rights, emigration, and democratization. The right of Soviet Jews to emigrate was a major issue of contention during the late 1970s and early 1980s.