Chamberlain, Izetbegović, and Arab-Israeli post-242 negotiators - dediscoursifier’s special figures

Chamberlain, Izetbegović, and Arab-Israeli post-242 negotiators – dediscoursifier’s special figures

TransConflict is pleased to present extracts from Dražen Pehar’s book, ‘Dediscoursification – how discursive attitudes cause wars’, the key contention of which is that the attitude to language should be theorized as one of the major causes of war.

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By Dražen Pehar

There is no doubt that, throughout the period leading up to World War Two, Hitler acted as a dediscoursifier; he lied about his intentions, broke many promises that either he himself made or to which Germany was committed by international treaties, and issued many contradictory statements. To Hitler this was simply a rational strategy by which, at the time, he hoped to achieve the goals he considered as legitimate German goals: expansion of Germany’s Lebensraum, subjection of inferior peoples, and German military and economic domination of the European continent. In 1940 Joseph P. Goebbels admitted that Hitler’s strategy was one of deception, emphasized that, “we [Nazis] succeeded in leaving the enemy in the dark concerning Germany’s real goals,” and added that, by the end of 1940, “Germany slipped through the risky zone,” and was in a position to display its intentions fully and honestly (quoted in Kissinger 1995, 259). British Prime Minister Chamberlain, on September 2 1939, declared war on Germany, and stated that, “We have a clear conscience, we have done all that any country could do to establish peace. The situation in which no word given by Germany’s ruler could be trusted, and no people or country could feel itself safe, had become intolerable.”[1] He was fully right with his own metalingual characterization of Hitler, which depicted the latter as an abuser of language. Was he, however, right about his own “clear conscience”?

A brief response to the question must be in the negative. In fact, it is not difficult at all to demonstrate that Chamberlain himself must have acted as a dediscoursifier upon all other relevant diplomatic agents of the time, including Hitler himself. Through the period of negotiating with Hitler on all major issues, including the Munich Pact negotiations, Chamberlain’s verbal deliveries were as contradictory as Hitler’s. First and foremost, all he said about Hitler and Germany’s aspirations at the time demonstrates that, until the last days of peace, he had no coherent view of either Hitler or about what he hoped he could achieve through his negotiations with Hitler. His confusion, and erratic replacement of one view with another, contradictory one, was shown as early as 1937; following his reading of a book that adequately described the nature of Nazi regime, Chamberlain stated that, if he accepted the conclusions of the book, he should feel despair; but, he added, “I don’t and I won’t” (Kagan 1995, 378). He in no way explained that sentence; he did not add his argument in support of the thesis that the despair he refers to ought to be dispelled. His later characterizations of Hitler evince the same kind of contradiction: at one point he qualifies Hitler as one impossible to negotiate with, but then, at the next, he swiftly changes his view and qualifies Hitler as one who he can negotiate with, and even as one with whom he can reach a reasonable agreement.

For instance, following Germany’s Anschluss of Austria on March 13 1938, Chamberlain officially responded by emphasizing that “it is perfectly evident now that force is the only argument Germany understands.” However, in the later period, we see a Chamberlain who not only failed to act more resolutely against Hitler, but one who failed to take a more coherent stand on Hitler. On September 15 1938, following his first meeting with Hitler on the issue of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain praises Hitler before his cabinet and states firmly that “Hitler meant what he said,” and “Hitler was telling the truth” (Kagan 1995, 397). One should not then be caught by surprise to find that Chamberlain, first, fails to take German military occupation of Prague as a clear breach of the Munich Agreement, hence as a casus belli, and that Chamberlain’s declaration of war against Germany, following German occupation of Poland, is forced on him by the British Parliament.[2] Chamberlain simply had no view of Hitler, either negative or positive.

What kind of communicative relationship, then, do we find between Chamberlain and Hitler? It is a peculiar one. On the one hand, we have a person who violates his own promises, or international commitments, without any problem. He, Hitler, is a person who stands outside language in an ethical sense, a person to whom language simply plays a role of one of the tools, or weapons of a severe and merciless struggle that will result in either a victory or a defeat. Hence, Hitler, whenever tactical conditions so required, issued peaceful messages, expressed his faith in peaceful negotiations, but did so in a bombastic and excessive way, never taking a more cautious attitude toward his foreign political adversaries (Anschluss takes place as if remilitarization of Rheinland never took place,[3] and Czechoslovakia takes place as if the Anschluss never took place).

Facing Hitler was a diplomatic actor, Chamberlain, who officially places his confidence in discourse as a general medium of political problem solving. However, this actor never comes close to adopting an unambiguous, or even deliberately and continually ambiguous, view; he never adopts a view based on which one could claim that the actor was deceived or misled. Chamberlain does at times consider a worse possibility as well, but in the situations when such consideration was reasonable, he does not fully endorse it. When one faces both a friendly and inimical message, it is always reasonable to count on a worse possibility–otherwise one can be unpleasantly surprised. However, Chamberlain does not act reasonably; he either takes no view at all, or does not work on adopting one, or continues considering a more optimistic possibility, and all that together combined in a strange cognitive mix. That is why Hitler formed the image of Chamberlain he did: either as a coward who has no view, one who is easily deceived, or perhaps one who, in Hitler’s eyes, decided to be eccentric in a characteristically English way, but at a wrong time (see also Kagan 1995, 412).

In other words, Hitler and Chamberlain acted as a harmonious couple, a duo that maintained a communicative relationship through a common effort and with a strange, perverse kind of compatibility that resembles the compatibility between a sadistic and a masochistic type. The relationship resulted in a bizarre outcome: in effect, Hitler was one who, throughout the relationship, remained fully faithful to his own word as presented in the Mein Kampf. In that sense he fulfilled the promise he gave to himself, the promise that others perhaps had not regarded with sufficient seriousness;[4] of course, along the way he also had to break many promises he gave to others–a different implementation of Mein Kampf in the given conditions was impossible, as everyone could have realized already at the time of Hitler’s promise-breaking. Hence, from the viewpoint of communication, Hitler and Chamberlain were equally responsible for the interruption of communication and thus also equally responsible for the outbreak of World War Two. Their communicative relationship actually seemed to display one key characteristic: one communicative agent, Hitler, somehow managed to infect the discourse of another communicative agent, Chamberlain, with his contradictions, which is why the latter remained unable to communicate openly and productively not only with the former, but also with the entire British and world-wide public.[5]

One interesting consequence follows from the image of Chamberlain as a peculiar discourse-user, and a dediscoursifier, that is offered in this section. Prior to World War Two, we cannot really speak about the strategy of appeasement in the sense of a “hesitant and extremely cautious attitude by an actor, or a number of actors, against a potentially highly menacing actor.” Chamberlain had no view of Hitler as a potentially menacing actor simply because Chamberlain had no consistent view of Hitler at all. That is why he never came close to endorsing the idea of launching a preventive attack against Hitler, or threatening Hitler with such an attack; in his mind Hitler was not atrocious or threatening, but was not the opposite of such attributes either (see also McDonough 2011 and Record 2011).

Alija Izetbegović, Bosnia-Herzegovina Collective Presidency Chair at the start of, and during, the Bosnian war, from 1991 till 1995, in one crucial aspect is comparable to Prime Minister Chamberlain– he too did not hesitate to change his views swiftly and erratically, and to endorse contradictory propositions whenever they suited his short-term political interest. In my book on Izetbegović (Pehar 2011a), I documented both the many instances of Izetbegović’s endorsement of contradictory positions and his verbal strategy that had a dediscoursifying effect on his political interlocutors, which is why in this section I will focus only on the most essential of Izetbegović’s attributes as a moral-discursive agent.

First, Izetbegović had no problem with reneging inexplicably on the highly important and potentially peace-saving agreements that he accepted in the months preceding the outbreak of the Bosnian war, and this aspect of his verbal agency had already received a fair amount of critical comment (for more detail, see Pehar 2011a, 168-184). However, it is important to emphasize here that his loose attitude toward the agreements he signed was also confirmed by his treatment of, and attitude toward, the Dayton Framework for Peace, which defined Bosnian constitutional post-war design. In other words, Izetbegović was in fact one of the political agents who continued the state of war into the post-war period by attempting to impose an interpretive construction of the Dayton peace framework, which was in accordance with his war-time political objectives, but not in accordance with the legitimate interests of the other internal parties to both Bosnian war and peace (for more detail, see Pehar 2014b and 2014c).

Secondly, as already emphasized, Izetbegović tended to endorse many contradictory propositions and positions concerning both the internal structure of Bosnia and the ways in which Bosnia’s internal relations should be organized.[6] For instance, many times he voiced the position that Bosnia should be organized as a classical unitary state, with no internal division of sovereignty and no special rights accorded to Bosnia’s ethnic groups, Bosniak-Muslims, Croats, and Serbs, who today officially have the status of Bosnia’s co-constituent peoples. However, on some occasions, he admitted that Bosnia is composed of three different ethnic groups who have their specific interests, and that Bosnian peace and internal stability depend on a compromise between the ethnic groups. And yet, on other occasions he tended to depart radically from such a view by presenting publicly the following theses: Bosnia has its foundational people, Bosniak-Muslims, who, unlike Croats and Serbs, form a majority in Bosnia, but have no “reserve-countries,” no “Croatia and Serbia,” for themselves. Hence, Izetbegović added, Bosnia’s Bosniak-Muslims should have some special rights, and receive a special and exclusivist treatment, in Bosnia itself (for more detail, see Pehar 2011a). Now, as Bosnia in 1991-1992 had 44% of Bosniak-Muslim population, the representatives of the two other ethnic groups characterized Izetbegović’s position rightfully as an open propagation of political falsehood, and considered such or similar statements as highly detrimental to a possibility of continued dialogue, that is, as statements that produced the phenomenon and process of dediscoursification.

Here I will not propose a more lengthy analysis of the detrimental influence Izetbegović’s use of discourse had on the discourse of other Bosnian, and even international, political actors. I will, however, distil two important aspects pertaining to Izetbegović’s discourse that play an important role in subsequent chapters, in Chapter 2 and Conclusion in particular.

First, and most interestingly, in January 1992, prior to the outbreak of the Bosnian war, Izetbegović formulated the following “argument,” a quasi-topic, against a negotiating process that should involve legitimate representatives of Serb, Croat, and Bosniak-Muslim peoples: the negotiating positions of the negotiating parties are mutually very distant; thus, to continue with negotiating makes no sense; also, the reasons those parties put forward in support of their positions should be offered to the Bosnian citizens who should then decide on the matters by a majority vote (for the context and the exact wording of this “argument,” see Pehar 2011a, 132-133). We should have in mind that such Izetbegović’s position also had a major practical effect: from April 1992 till December 1992, through the critical eight months of the initial period of the Bosnian war, Izetbegović ceased negotiating with the legitimate representatives of Bosnian Serbs. Also, we should have in mind that Izetbegović’s “resolution” of the issue of the distance between negotiating position was fully impracticable–in Bosnia of the time, and even today, on some major issues it is impossible to form a winning majority of Bosnian citizens who could as well satisfy the criterion of “a three equally constituent peoples’ representation”.[7] In addition to the two aspects surrounding Izetbegović’s “argument,” one should have an exact understanding of what the “argument” actually implies. It, basically, implies the following: the fact that the parties have different views, and different reasons in support of such views, figures as a reason against a common exploration of the reasons through a reasoned debate; or, the distance between both the positions and the reasons supporting those positions should be taken as a reason against the negotiating process. This, of course, is far from plausible, and we will see in Chapter 2 why the moral matrix of discourse involves a discursive requirement that is irreconcilable to Izetbegović’s “argument.” To this one also needs to add that, having in mind Izetbegović’s endorsement of many contradictory positions, he indeed was a party impossible to negotiate with not due to the distance between his own and the Serb negotiating positions, as he himself put it, but due to an obvious lack of position that his own contradictions implied for both himself and his interlocutors.

Secondly, Richard Holbrooke, American mediator who helped the Bosnian and the neighboring countries’ representatives to negotiate the Dayton peace settlement, in his memoirs presented a curious picture of Izetbegović as a negotiator. For a start, Holbrooke unmistakably presented Izetbegović and his team, i.e. the Bosniak-Muslim representatives, as a key culprit of the drama that unfolded at Dayton, as a party that nearly spoiled the negotiating effort by placing many obstacles on it. In actual fact, it follows from Holbrooke’s presentation that, until the very end of the Dayton negotiations, both his team and the European representatives remained extremely skeptical about Izetbegović’s willingness to sign to the deal (see Holbrooke 1999, 197-8, 224, 271, 302, 305, and 309). Holbrooke even adds that he remembered “how often things had unraveled with the Bosnians [this term he uses throughout the book to designate exclusively the Bosniak-Muslim representatives] in the past” (Holbrooke 1999, 309), emphasizing that he himself was unable to find a sufficient amount of moral-discursive seriousness, responsibility, or commitment, in Bosniak-Muslim negotiating team led by Izetbegović.[8] Thus, Holbrooke in his memoirs presents Izetbegović in clear terms as a political agent who tended to dediscoursify his political interlocutors, including those who tried to reach a reasonable agreement in partnership with him.

More importantly, Holbrooke also puts a political frame on Izetbegović as a dediscoursifying agent, and explains in a peculiar way the latter’s tendency to renege on the agreements he signed, and his confusion or contradictions: as something of which Izetbegović was not, and is not to be held, culpable. Such Holbrooke’s political framing is presented very early in his memoirs. Here is how he explains Izetbegović’s erratic verbal and negotiating behavior: “Having put all their effort into survival, they [the Bosniak-Muslim representatives and negotiators including primarily Izetbegović and his close aides] had never functioned as a government in the normal sense of the word” (Holbrooke 1999, 97). In other words, Holbrooke presents Izetbegović as a victim of Serbian aggression who simply fought for sheer survival. In Holbrooke’s presentation, the victim was so busy dealing with the business of survival that he had no time to formulate his own political agenda or work towards achievement of his own political goals.

However, such Holbrooke’s presentation is in fact a misrepresentation that can be easily refuted with some excerpts from Holbrooke’s own book, and some recently published transcripts of BiH Presidency sessions that reveal unambiguously the character of Izetbegović’s own political agenda. As to the latter, at a meeting held in BiH Presidency on January 28 1994 (this is a period of war when Izetbegović’s position was at its weakest point in terms of both military and political strategy), Izetbegović states the following:

“We [Bosniak-Muslim representatives and negotiators] have been voicing different perspectives. Some objections are sent to me from abroad–tell us, Bosnians, what do you want? Tell us, we need to know. One of us claims one thing, another claims another, the third a third, and the foreign secretary claims a fourth thing. Those gents abroad do not know what we want. Now, watch out, what do we want? Something is missing in this formula–our views do indeed vary. Do you know why? That depends on our possession of weaponry, or our lack of weaponry. If we possess weaponry, the whole of Bosnia is a result. It we totally lack weaponry, then we have to accept something else” (the quote and context in Pehar 2011a, 137).

This is perhaps the best depiction of Izetbegović as a dediscoursifier who acts as an independent source of dediscoursification. The quote clearly implies that Izetbegović was not really interested in negotiations, or discourse, and that he used it only as a weapon of political or diplomatic struggle; that his basic political calculus was fully determined by the amount of the means of coercion placed in his hands, and that he was not thinking at all about the possibility of formulating a compromise, a diplomatic formula, in direct and fair negotiations with his political adversary; finally, the above quote implies undoubtedly that his political goals were set maximally.

As to Holbrooke’s own awareness of Izetbegović’s political agenda, which cannot be reconciled with the former’s statement on Izetbegović as a victim so hard-pressed that he did not have time to form, and try implementing, his own views on a desirable shape of Bosnia, again we find it documented early in his memoirs. Holbrooke, for example, reproduces a speech Izetbegović delivered on 27 January 1991 (more than a year before the start of the war), before Bosnia-Herzegovina parliamentarians, in which Izetbegović clearly stated that he would sacrifice peace for Bosnian sovereignty, but never sacrifice Bosnian sovereignty for a peace; Holbrooke then adds, “To the Serbs, this was a war cry.” (Holbrooke 1999, 32-33) However, Holbrooke fails to mention that Izetbegović’s speech also meant that he wanted fully sovereign, centrally governed, non-federated Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that, within the context, he implied again that his political goals were set maximally. Furthermore, Izetbegović’s statement on “sacrifice of peace for sovereignty” was very problematic also to Croats who, in a lower voice than Serbs, demanded that Bosnia be federated and decentralized taking into consideration Bosnian multi-ethnicity, its composition by three equally constituent peoples. This is a fact that at least partially explains the war that broke out between Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslim forces in early 1993.

Finally, Holbrooke’s characterization of Izetbegović as merely a victim, with no political agenda of his own, is undermined by one important episode from August 1995, when the outline of the Dayton peace settlement was being prepared, as Holbrooke himself presents it. It follows clearly from Holbrooke’s memoirs (Holbrooke 1999, 96-7) that Izetbegović endorsed the Dayton deal as a part of a choice that Holbrooke offered to him. The choice was as follows: either Bosnian-Muslim independent statelet, on a smaller part of Bosnian territory, or Bosnia-Herzegovina in its current borders, but radically rearranged in accordance with the following formula: it will be a federation composed of two strong entities, with one loose central government; one of the entities was to be called “Republika Srpska” exactly as the Serbs have demanded at the start of the Bosnian war. Izetbegović opted for the latter (Holbrooke 1999, 97).

Again, Holbrooke fails to mention one extremely important thing: as he explicitly proposed it, the choice had no option of Bosnian full and undivided sovereignty, which is exactly the political goal for which Izetbegović said he would, and for which in fact he did, sacrifice peace. Secondly, and more importantly, Holbrooke clearly signaled to Izetbegović that USA had no problem with constitutional transformation of Bosnia into a federation, and even more importantly, that it did not have a problem with full disintegration of the state either. Hence, Izetbegović must have realized that, to move forward with the Dayton negotiations, he was told to give up unambiguously his maximalist, compromise-unfriendly political goals which, as Holbrooke put it, to the Serbs meant a war cry.

Altogether, this means that Holbrooke’s political framing of Izetbegović’s discourse, and of the dediscoursifying potential of that discourse, as something that was just an effect of a more tragic condition, or of another “villain’s” behavior, is a historical distortion, an abuse of history for political purposes. Holbrooke was fully aware of Izetbegović’s maximalist demands, and of Izetbegović’s slippery moral-discursive character. However, he must have also sensed the need to picture Bosnia as a site of a struggle between good and evil, to make sense of American post-Dayton engagement in peace-implementation process, and this is what probably motivated him to try picturing one party as a “victim” of the Bosnian war.[9] One last, but crucial lesson may be drawn from this Holbrooke’s politically motivated misframing of Izetbegović as an “accidental” dediscoursifier: dediscoursification can be, like everything, reframed in political terms so that it does not look like one. Such political framing in fact simply propagates and extends the process of dediscoursification. In other words, here Holbrooke’s framing of dediscoursification turns himself into a dediscoursifying agent.

I conclude this section with a brief presentation of another diplomatic communication that went wrong and produced a dediscoursifying effect. It concerns the communication between Arab and Israeli negotiators in the period from late 1967, following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 242 (UNSCR 242) in November 1967, until 1973 (Yom Kippur, or October War between Israel and Arab countries led by Egypt). UNSCR 242 was adopted in the aftermath of the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab countries, which resulted in Israeli occupation of major portions of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The 242 is famous for its ambiguity, which was the key stumbling block to the Arab-Israeli negotiations, both direct and indirect, that followed. I have analyzed the crucial aspects of this process elsewhere (Pehar 2011b, esp. 74-83);[10] so here again I am distilling the most essential aspects on which I draw later, especially in chapters 2 and 3.

What was the key problem during those negotiations, and how did the parties abuse their discourse, which led to communicational failure and cul-de-sac? As said, UNSCR 242 is ambiguous, which means that it is open to interpretation: when one focuses on one set of its elements, one will draw one conclusion concerning its proper interpretation; when one, however, focuses on another set of its elements, one will draw another interpretive conclusion that is irreconcilable with the former. This does not mean that the situation is hopeless. A focus on one set of elements is buttressed by one set of reasons. The focus on the competing set is buttressed by another set of reasons. Altogether, this means that the parties aiming to establish a shared meaning of an ambiguous document should simply do as follows: either compare the competing reasons and assess them together through a prolonged dialogue or agree that the document cannot produce a single and shared meaning, after which they may come up with a compromise-formula that they would simply put on the document. Unfortunately, this is not something that Arab and Israeli negotiators did. Instead, they dediscoursified one another. How did they do this?

They simply continued adhering to their own interpretation regardless of the outcome. The opposite party was faced with an interpretive ultimatum: either they adopt the “orthodox” interpretation, which is “ours,” or there will be no talks at all. In other words, a party can focus exclusively on the products of interpretation, the final interpretive deliveries, and forget all the rest that is in fact more important: the reasons for interpretation and a dialogue concerning such reasons. It is through such an attitude that an ambiguous discourse, UNSCR 242 in this case, becomes actually one large contradiction: Israel fights for an interpretation A, whereas Arab representatives fight for an interpretation B which implies non-A; and there the dialogue on interpretive possibilities ends. Language becomes contradictory, and thus ceases to play a role.[11]

Hence, in this case the mechanism of dediscoursification is simple and clear. The parties are inimical to the possibility of a discussion of the reasons, and they a priori consider their interpretations as mutually incompatible or contradictory. This also means that they both refuse to assess jointly the weight of the elements on which their interpretations draw, which means that they simply dismiss, with no explanation, all the elements that may be adduced to support the competing interpretation. So discourse, the UNSCR 242, is considered as contradictory and thus taken out of the equation. It becomes a means of self-defeat or, more precisely, a means for return to the pre-242 time, instead of becoming a source of a shared meaning that is supported by adequate and shared reasons, and then taken honestly as binding on all the parties concerned. As a matter of historical interpretation, this is exactly what happened at “Big Four” (USA, UK, France, USSR) meetings held in early 1969, when the meaning of the 242 was debated.

The sympathies of the major actors were obvious to an impartial eye. USA and UK openly held a pro-Israeli position, while France and the Soviet Union held a pro-Arab position.[12] The pro-Arab camp simply insisted on the withdrawal of Israeli force from occupied territories, and viewed such a withdrawal as a precondition for any future steps. The pro-Israeli camp, however, insisted on direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and continued emphasizing that the “future boundaries” will have to be negotiated to enable Israel to withdraw from the “temporarily occupied” territories. It was obvious that, for instance, the Soviet envoy, Ambassador Malik during those meetings simply ignored the part of UNSCR 242 that addresses “safe and recognized borders.” On the other hand, American ambassador Yost ignored the part of the resolution that emphasizes the principle of inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by the use of military force (for this and more detail on the meetings, see El-Farra 1987, 127-129).

Hence, through the entire period leading up to the October, Yom Kippur war (1973), negotiations were still-born. In July 1973, the US vetoed the UN SC Resolution that required from Israel to withdraw from all the occupied territories. USA representatives explained their veto by stating that the parties, without an external pressure, needed to agree of their own on the right interpretation of the 242 (El-Zayyat 1981, 31). Egyptian representatives responded to this veto with utter disappointment and outrage. They took it as a symbol of an end to all discursive efforts, or full exhaustion of all diplomatic means, in tackling the issue of interpretation of the 242. One obvious practical effect of such exhaustion and stalemate in negotiations was the continuation of Israeli occupation of Palestinian (and Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian) territory.

One can recognize within the Arab discourse at the time a clear series of responses to the continued occupation. First, the US is considered as a power that actively promotes and enables the continuation of Israeli occupation (El-Farra 1987, 121). Secondly, the concept of ambiguity is now given a more pejorative meaning: the ambiguous 242 is seen as a misleading agreement, a document that effectively blocks resolution or a language that, being neither constructive nor productive (El-Zayyat 1981, 39), enables Israelis to continue with the application of force, i.e. the occupation of the territory. Thirdly, the faith in a negotiated solution is fully replaced with the belief that some external force of non-discursive kind is needed to convince Israel to change its attitude; it could be either an American pressure or Arab military strength, but, either way, it is now widely believed that a solution ought to be imposed on Israel by all means available (El-Farra 1987, 136). So once again, we witness a clear case of dediscoursification as was already attested, or hinted at, by Egyptian President Nasser’s 18 February 1968 statement: “We will listen to the United States although she wants to make us enter a dark room called ‘negotiations on Resolution 242.’ We will cooperate with the devil himself, if only to prove our good intentions! However, we know from the start that we are the ones to liberate our land by the force of arms, the only language Israel understands” (as quoted in Riad 1981, 75).[13] There is no doubt that, for similar reasons, Israeli representatives were at the time thinking the same of Egyptian President and of the Arab representatives and negotiators more generally.

Dražen Pehar has a PhD in politics and international relations from Keele University (SPIRE 2006), holds an assistant professorship (BiH) in the philosophy of law and in politics with sociology. Dražen is a DiploFoundation Associate, and previously served as Chief of Staff to the BiH Federation President (1996) and as a media analyst to the OHR (1999/2000). Dražen is also part of the Institute for Social and Political Research (IDPI), a member of the Global Coalition for Conflict Transformation
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of TransConflict.


  1. The text of the declaration is at (Accessed July 28, 2015).
  2. For this, and more detail, see (Accessed July 28, 2015).
  3. After remilitarization of the Rhineland, Hitler in an address to Reichstag states the following: “Now, more than ever, we shall strive for an understanding between the European peoples….We have no territorial demands to make in Europe…Germany will never break the peace.” (Kagan 1995, 357)
  4. Some high-rank officials have nevertheless taken Hitler’s promises to himself sufficiently seriously. In December 1938, after return of the Sudetenland to the German Reich, Robert Coulondre, the newly appointed French Ambassador to Berlin, put it as follows: “The first part of Mr. Hitler’s programme – integration of Germans into the Reich–is completed. Now the time for Lebensraum has arrived.” (Mazower 1998, 75)
  5. Chamberlain’s discursive attitude is well illustrated by a comment on Hitler we find in a French socialist press Populaire after remilitarization of the Rhineland: “Hitler has torn up a treaty, he has broken all his promises, but at the same time he speaks of peace and of Geneva. We must take him at his word.” (Kagan 1995, 358) The last sentence is very ambiguous as it addresses and confirms both Hitler’s violation of his promises and his speech on peace. An intelligent reader might read this sentence with an ironic smile as if the sentence cannot be meant, read, or uttered in its literal sense. Trust in Hitler is not possible because he broke his promises, but at the same time it is necessary because he speaks of peace and the spirit of Geneva. Hence Populaire commits a contradiction and simply allows Hitler to infect, by his own contradiction, the press itself. In a brief excerpt we see the whole dynamics of dediscoursification that took place between the key diplomatic actors at the dawn of World War Two.
  6. As Aristotle already pointed out, endorsement of contradictions puts one’s interlocutor into a difficult position because the interlocutor cannot view those who endorse contradictions as committed users of a meaningful discourse. Aristotle compared those who don’t trust, and hence seek a full logical demonstration for, “the principle of contradiction” with “a vegetable” because such form of life does not speak nor expresses some views (Aristotle 1924, 1006a1-25). In other words, contradictory language defeats itself, it deprives itself of its own meaning, and results in a situation in which the users of language seem not to have used language at all. Obviously, this is a form of dediscoursification–our interlocutors to our contradictions respond as something that we need to eliminate together; an additional clarification is sought concerning either the meaning of the terms used (for instance, does one deal with metaphorical use of the terms of the contradiction?) or the meaning of negation. However, when additional clarification, and elimination, is not sought, a user of discourse is culpable of dediscoursification: s/he actively motivates us to cease discoursing with him or her because we find the dialogue with her, or him, confusing and his or her thoughts and words principally non-shareable. Izetbegović’s key problem was in his view that life is more pertinently and adequately characterized by religious contradictions, or “antinomies” as he called them, than by scientific and mutually coherent theories, for which see Pehar (2011a, esp. 159-164).
  7. This, however, does not prevent local political parties from negotiating and formulating a compromise, a diplomatic formula that can moderately satisfy the interests of all constituent peoples.
  8. See also Greenberg, McGuinness (2000, 55)
  9. For more detail on American long-term engagement with Bosnia, see Pehar (2014c)
  10. See also Riad (1981, 65-75) and Chomsky (2003, 179-182)
  11. This means that I fundamentally agree with an observation by 1967 US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk: “Both sides departed from 242 in important ways” (Rusk 1991, 333). Also, one needs to have in mind that, on November 12 1967, US Ambassador Goldberg directly told Riad, Egyptian foreign minister, that the 242 had to contain some degree of ambiguity in order to overcome obstacles (Riad 1981, 65).
  12. In other words, the argument on the 242 rapidly turned into a part of global, Cold War rivalry between two super-powers, Soviet Union and USA; this, of course, aggravated considerably the problem.
  13. For Israeli position on the 242, and especially for Begin’s statement, at the time of Camp David (1977) negotiations, that the withdrawal of Israel from Sinai only means a full implementation of the territorial aspect of the 242, see also Neff (1991); for the claim by Abba Eban, an influential foreign minister of Israel, that “the preambular principle of inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war is irrelevant to Middle East,” as well as for a successful refutation of the claim, see Finkelstein (2003, 144-145).

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