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The Realist Prism: Bribery as a Diplomatic Tool

Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

Whenever I ponder some of the challenges U.S. foreign policy faces today in Afghanistan, Somalia, or Yemen, I inevitably return to a passage in Bob Woodward's "Veil," describing how Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, after an attempt to assassinate him had failed, was persuaded to restrain his followers in Lebanon from launching attacks on U.S. interests:

The Saudis approached him and asked whether . . . he would act as their early-warning system for terrorist attacks on Saudi and American facilities. They would pay $2 million cash. Fadlallah accepted, but said he wanted the payment in food, medicine and education expenses for some of his people. This would enhance his status among his followers. The Saudis agreed. There were no more Fadlallah-sponsored terrorist attacks against Americans. ...

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