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As General Michael Davison, Director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, opened the Second Annual Security Cooperation Conference in Crystal City on 10 July, he presented the theme "Perspective Is Everything" as an appropriate motto for the security cooperation community which finds itself confronted by a myriad of changes resulting from this new era of a global strategy accompanied by rapid changes in technology and new missions. ....
Former Ambassador Edward L. Peck, the opening day speaker, seized on the conference theme on perspective to deliver a primer on the verities and vagaries of international relations. He delivered a powerful, insightful, thought-provoking and humorous lesson, using his "Peck's Postulates" to explain the four basic points that make every aspect of foreign affairs easily understandable.
First, there are NO absolutes; perception is everything. It is not what we say or even what we do that matters. The only thing that matters is how the other party(ies) PERCEIVE what we're doing - because that is what controls how they react. Differing perceptions do not make one side wrong and the other right, but they do dictate what does or does not happen.
Second, there are only two things you can always depend upon sovereign nations doing.
Third, every international problem can be put into one of just three categories, if grouped solely on the basis of who decides what to do about them.
Fourth, there is only one internationally recognized, universal explanation for every nation's foreign policies: "That's different". This explains why, for example, the U.S. can involve itself militarily in protecting the Kurds in Iraq, but only express mild concern over the harsher circumstances facing the Kurds in neighboring Turkey.