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News & Politics News & Politics

When is it ok to break your word?

Posted by on Feb. 23, 2013 at 6:28 AM
  • 7 Replies

This is a spin-off, from the thread about Egypt.

When is it ok for a country to break a deal that they have already agreed to?


I ask because, in the other thread, people seem to be universally condemning America for not breaking the deal they made with Egypt in 2010, which involved sending Egypt some F16 aeroplanes.

If you sign a contract, and fail to stipulate that the contract becomes null and void if the country the contract is with starts passing policies you dislike, are you then justified in breaking the contract later saying "Whoops, I forgot to specify that" ?

by on Feb. 23, 2013 at 6:28 AM
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Replies (1-7):
143myboys9496
by Gold Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 6:38 AM

 Interesting point...I would say 'yes' if those policies contradict the reasons for signing the contract.

But idk, global gov't is (obviously) complicated. If (for example) Egypt is using the F16s to bomb Christian gathering spaces or populus', I'd say that would violate the contract. I would figure that we're sending the planes to Egypt so it can protect itself from other countries, not from Christians and Egyptian citizens.

Clairwil
by Platinum Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 7:36 AM
Quoting 143myboys9496:

Interesting point...I would say 'yes' if those policies contradict the reasons for signing the contract.

So, for example, suppose China made an agreement with America, while a Democrat was president, in which America voted the way China wanted in the UN on one particular occasion and, in return, China agreed to provide intel in the Middle East for the next 10 years, from Chinese intelligence human resources in the area.

If America then changed president so a Republican was in power, would that justify China breaking the agreement?  Supposing that the reason the Chinese signed the contract would be contradicted by the new Middle East policies of the new president?

Wouldn't it be unfair of the Chinese to break the contract, because they'd already got the benefit from their side (the UN vote now having happened), but America having only received 3 years out of the 10 of their promised side?

JakeandEmmasMom
by Gold Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM

 I think the only time it would be okay to break the contract is if, for example, the new government actively increased tensions with one of our allies, and there was legitimate concern that the weapons were going to be used against our ally.

I do not think, "We don't like the way you are running your country," is a legitimate reason to break an agreement.  If we did that everytime someone did something we disagree with, our word wouldn't be worth squat.

Clairwil
by Platinum Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Quoting JakeandEmmasMom:

 I think the only time it would be okay to break the contract is if, for example, the new government actively increased tensions with one of our allies, and there was legitimate concern that the weapons were going to be used against our ally.

I do not think, "We don't like the way you are running your country," is a legitimate reason to break an agreement.  If we did that everytime someone did something we disagree with, our word wouldn't be worth squat.

So, if you do break an agreement, what do you do about the stuff they have done for you?

Do you give it back?

What if it is something that can't be returned to them, because it was a diplomatic favour rather than something physical like cash or ships carrying oil?

Do you just say "Sorry, you pissed us off, so we decided to break our word.  Sucks to be you" ?

JakeandEmmasMom
by Gold Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 10:49 AM

 

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting JakeandEmmasMom:

 I think the only time it would be okay to break the contract is if, for example, the new government actively increased tensions with one of our allies, and there was legitimate concern that the weapons were going to be used against our ally.

I do not think, "We don't like the way you are running your country," is a legitimate reason to break an agreement.  If we did that everytime someone did something we disagree with, our word wouldn't be worth squat.

So, if you do break an agreement, what do you do about the stuff they have done for you?

Do you give it back?

What if it is something that can't be returned to them, because it was a diplomatic favour rather than something physical like cash or ships carrying oil?

Do you just say "Sorry, you pissed us off, so we decided to break our word.  Sucks to be you" ?

 I don't have an answer to that.  But I don't see how we could honor the agreement knowing that the weapons were going to be used against our ally.  How would we ever explain that to our ally? 

Again, that is the one and only situation I think breaking the agreement would be the right thing to do:  If there was imminent danger to an ally from the materials we were going to provide.  The country simply "pissing us off" is not a good enough reason.

I think we should continue to honor our agreements with Egypt.  I'm in the minority with that opinion, I realise.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 4:36 PM
2 moms liked this

I think you are obligated to break your word when there is a possibility that keeping the promise may have a high possibility of endangering the safety or lives of anyone.

If contracts are not met, there are damages - still better than arming a contentious Egypt.

I think with excellent legal counsel, who wrote the contract in the first place, or significantly contributed to it, you can include language that allows an out, gives ways of voiding the contract in the case of national security or danger to citizens - OR (preferably) vague terms that can apply to a number of situations. Even paying a fine to the other party. Anything is better than helping another country kill their own civilians or endanger America or our allies.

But back to the underlying facts, it is really stupid for the US to have good relationships with Egypt, to force out the leader without any understanding of who the next leader(s) will be, and then have it turn into an extremist Islamist state that kills its religious minorities, and threatens the US and our allies.

So yes, definitely better to break your word in this case, and it is quite possible to do  it.  Will have some negative consequences - but not nearly as negative as if you deliver on the contract.

143myboys9496
by Gold Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 5:26 PM

 

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting 143myboys9496:

Interesting point...I would say 'yes' if those policies contradict the reasons for signing the contract.

So, for example, suppose China made an agreement with America, while a Democrat was president, in which America voted the way China wanted in the UN on one particular occasion and, in return, China agreed to provide intel in the Middle East for the next 10 years, from Chinese intelligence human resources in the area.

If America then changed president so a Republican was in power, would that justify China breaking the agreement?  Supposing that the reason the Chinese signed the contract would be contradicted by the new Middle East policies of the new president?

Wouldn't it be unfair of the Chinese to break the contract, because they'd already got the benefit from their side (the UN vote now having happened), but America having only received 3 years out of the 10 of their promised side?

 It would depend upon the number of votes the Democrat promised China.

Sometimes I think the phrase "there's no honor among thieves" applies to politics too.

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