Bush, Iran, Diplomacy and War

Posted January 13, 2007 on 4:50 pm | In the category Iran, Iraq, Middle East, North Korea, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Last April in an exchange with a friend I wrote about the possible role of diplomacy in the Bush Universe. I post it now as Bush appears to be embarking on a widening of his Iraq fiasco; much of what was said in April seems worth considering nine months later:

“In general I think diplomacy trumps war almost every time. There are no guarantees in diplomacy but neither are there any in war that I am aware of, but the search for common ground – or at least a modus vivendi – is to me worth a better effort than this administration (and I suppose earlier ones) has put forth. But this administration has a special place in the Land of Oz, crippled by its blind arrogance of (illusionary) power. And yes I would say the same about N. Korea. I think we have refused to talk to either country directly because they are “evil” and we are “good” – and we have therefore a self-induced consequence. And it is the consequence that the administration wants so it can change the world to fit its picture of what reality should be. Iraq is the current best example of the results of this kind of thinking.

I think the N. Korean situation is in some ways more complicated. We did a deal with them in which we and the S. Koreans and the Japanese would build nuclear energy plants in return for their not building nuclear weapons. It was, according to the diplomat who was given the unenviable task of managing that agreement – an “orphan” from the start. The U.S. (particularly the Congress – not the smartest lamps in the light store) never really made a serious effort to fulfill their part of the deal and when The Glorious Leader wanted to talk directly to the U.S. there was simply no way anyone could do that and retain domestic political support.

I don’t know whether direct negotiations would have or could have led to different scenarios – but then neither does anyone since it was never tried. I trust Iran and N. Korea about as much as I would trust Cheney/Bush if I were an Iranian given our Iraq adventure….

Would the world be a better place if Iran and N. Korea did not ever have nuclear weapons? Of course. But is it worth going to what amounts to war to stop it without attempting to negotiate? In my view, “no”. We could kiss S. Korea goodbye and we could kiss any hopes for peace on any level in the Middle East goodbye.

Also – I am not sure that the IAEA is as guilty of incompetence on the Iran issue as some say – they were aware as far back as 1996 that Iran was screwing around with nuclear stuff and Blix reported that concern. And it does not help IAEA with policing the nonproliferation pact when Bush plays it fast and loose with India, Brazil etc. We discussed this earlier and I remain concerned on the existential issue – if we give permission to India then we give it to others (in the existential sense – we lose the moral edge).
Of course we cannot blame Bush for every bad thing that happens – but I blame him for the mess in Iraq – we were better off with Saddam in power in a secular country with no WMD than we are now – it has cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives (many thousands if we want to include Iraqis), has diverted our attention from the important work at hand and has made it easier for the likes of Iran to screw around with us.

I think this is a disaster that has no foreseeable end. It is a mess and the U.S. has played the major role in making it worse than it needed to be. As to whether anything else would have worked better – we will never know.”

April 18, 2006

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  1. Jeff, It was a good note last Spring and its observations are,dismally, still salient this Winter. It is well worth posting for everyone. Hold on to it as I fear it will still be timely this Sumer and Fall. Maybe the Senate will use some of the same sort of language in their Sense of the Senate Resolution Expressing Extreme Unhappiness with Stuff Happening in Iraq. Those bold, self-sacrificing folks have given us their oaths that they’ll forthrightly tell us when they are Extremely Happy With Stuff,and I think they’ll discharge their responsibility without hesitation.

    Comment by Kiwi — January 15, 2007 #

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