Sunday, March 29, 2009

Diplomacy - What is it good for?

What good is diplomacy when it is failed from the start?

We currently have
Iran in North Korea preparing to launch a missile together. Both Iran and North Korea are playing against the rules that diplomacy set for them and they agreed to.

Yet today, they stand in North Korea in full view of the world, without any worries.

Both countries have used threats and false promises to delay and ward off any further repercussions. And it has worked.

Diplomacy with these two countries has had no bite, no serious repercussions to prevent what will ultimately happen. The only true suffering has been felt by the individual citizens of these two countries. The sanctions have caused serious poverty and hunger to the people. The regimes have spent what little money that is left on continuing there process of building military might. Which will be used to further intimidate the world, to leave them alone. Nothing serious has been done to stop Iran and North Korea from ultimately becoming nuclear powers.

They are sitting up in North Korea, rubbing their grimy hands together and giggling at the world.

Together, they can conquer the world and the world won't do anything to stop them.

As part of an excellent essay regarding the Democrat's wish to sell our Sovereignty and allow the world to rule us, John Bolton has included an excellent piece on diplomacy:

As the Obama years begin, we certainly do need a lively debate on the utility of diplomacy, but it would be better if that debate were not conducted on the false premise offered by A Plan for Action. In reality, in the overwhelming majority of cases, foreign-policy thinkers on both sides of the ideological divide believe diplomacy is the solution to the difficulties that arise in the international system. That is how the Bush administration conducted itself as well.

The difference arises in the consideration of a tiny number of cases—cases that prove entirely resistant to diplomatic efforts, in which divergent national interests prove implacably resistant to reconciliation. If diplomacy does not and cannot work, the continued application of it to a problematic situation is akin to subjecting a cancer patient to a regimen of chemotherapy that shows no results whatever. The result may look like treatment, but it is, in fact, only making the patient sicker and offering no possibility of improvement.

Diplomacy is like all other human activity. It has costs and it has benefits. Whether to engage in diplomacy on a given matter requires a judicious assessment of both costs and benefits. This is an exercise about which reasonable people can disagree. If diplomacy is to work, it must be preceded by an effort to determine its parameters—when it might be best to begin, how to achieve one’s aims, and what the purpose of the process might be. At the cold war’s outset, for example, Harry Truman’s Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, frequently observed that he was prepared to negotiate with the Soviets only when America could do so from a position of strength.

Time is one of the most important variables in a diplomatic dance, because it often imposes a cost on one side and a benefit to its adversary. Nations can use the time granted by a diplomatic process to obscure their objectives, build alliances, prepare operationally for war, and, especially today, accelerate their efforts to build weapons of mass destruction and the ballistic missiles that might carry them. There are concrete economic factors that must be considered as well in the act of seeking to engage an adversary in the diplomatic realm—the act of providing humanitarian assistance as an act of good will, for example, the suspension of economic sanctions, or even resuming normal trade relations during negotiations.

Obviously, the United States and, indeed, all rational nations are entirely comfortable paying substantial costs when they appear to be wise investments that will lead to the achievement of a larger objective. Alas, such happy conclusions are far from inevitable, and failing to understand the truth of this uncomfortable and inarguable reality has led nations to prolong negotiations long after the last glimmer of progress has been snuffed out. For too many diplomats, there is no off switch for diplomacy, no moment at which the only sensible thing to do is rise from the table and go home.

Has one ever heard of a diplomat working to fashion an “exit strategy” from a failed negotiation? One hasn’t. One should.

1 comment:

Epaminondas said...

There are some nations among whom diplomacy is a tool which can be used to avoid war or other strife in the pursuit of national goals

There are some nations among whom diplomacy is a tool to be used to achieve national goals by acting as if diplomacy IS a tool which can be used to avoid strife and war.

Doesn't sound like much of a distinction, but between these groups, there is VERY little, if anything to say.

Hopefully, though I doubt that outcome, the Obamanoids will empirically discover this unfortunate reality.