The ability to negotiate between couples or states often involves coming up with formulas that allow each side to save face or retain self-esteem, and that requires compromising principles, or ambiguity. The fact that allies spy on one another to a certain degree to determine intentions, capacities, and vulnerabilities is well known to practitioners of government. But it cannot be publicly acknowledged, since it represents a threat to the amour propre of other nations. Moreover, in domestic politics and in international relations as in interpersonal ones, there is a role for a certain amount of hypocrisy for practices that are tolerable and useful but that can’t be fully justified by international law and explicit norms. In short, to quote Moshe Halbertal once again, A degree of legitimate concealment is necessary to maintain the state and its democratic institutions. Military secrets, techniques for fighting crime, intelligence gathering, and even diplomatic negotiations that will fall apart if they become exposed—all these domains have to stay shrouded in secrecy in order to allow the functioning of ordinary transparency in the other institutions of the state. Our transparent open conversation rests upon a rather extensive dark and hidden domain that insures its flourishing.
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