Ziv, Guy. “The Triumph of Agency over Structure: Shimon Peres and the Israeli Nuclear Program.” International Negotiation 20.2 (2015): 218-41.
This article advances the proposition that when the negotiator is empowered to reach an agreement on behalf of his or her government, agency has the potential to triumph over structure. The negotiator whose personal attributes include flexibility, sensitivity, inventiveness, tenacity and patience is more likely to meet this potential. Shimon Peres, the director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Defense in the mid-1950s, possessed many of these traits. He was also given virtually free rein by Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion to pursue negotiations with France over the acquisition of a nuclear reactor. Despite significant structural hurdles – financial difficulties, domestic opposition, u.s. disapproval, and an unstable and divided French Fourth Republic – Peres’s unorthodox diplomacy allowed Israel to become a nuclear power. This case highlights the oft-overlooked role of agency in political science, in general, and in international negotiations, in particular.