"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Mr. Kaplan is plagued by faulty analysis, an incorrect conclusion, and a sheer hatred of Bush.

Bush Flip-Flops on Iran
Fred Kaplan, Slate Original Article

Don't look now, but it seems that George W. Bush is committing diplomacy. The New York Times reports today that Bush has agreed to join France, Britain, and Germany in their nuclear-arms talks with Iran. This marks a major reversal for Bush, who until now has refused to negotiate with any Iranian officials, arguing that to do so would reward them for bad behavior.


Blogger Lieutenant Colonel Caveman said...

The absence or misuse of logic in this article (above) mandated that I respond in detail. Let me start by analyzing Mr. Kaplan's statements.

"Don't look now, but it seems that George W. Bush is committing diplomacy."

Mr. Kaplan wrongly assumes that the only form of diplomacy is civil debate, discussion, and agreements. Reconnaissance in the Army is a lot like diplomacy. There exist two forms of reconnaissance: Reconnaissance by Stealth and Reconnaissance by Fire. There also exist two broad categories of diplomacy: Diplomacy by negotiation or Diplomacy by force.

Diplomacy by force is a lot like reconnaissance by fire. America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, instilled democratic governments, and will ensure their success. There is little diplomacy in war. Losers do what victors tell and demand of them.

These battles won (Diplomacy by force) by the United States have directly resulted in the capitulation (diplomacy by negotiation) of several other foes (defined here as those without democratic government): Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, and quite possibly Syria in the near future as an extension of its involvement in Lebanon. Iran is currently the aberration. It is neither acquiescing nor capitulating.

Military options in Iran are currently limited, especially given the fact that so many of the Army’s forces are tied up in Iraq. Iraq is trending towards democracy, but American forces will most likely be needed there at the very least one year and quite possibly at least five years. Given this fact, President Bush is currently practicing the only form of diplomacy left to him—diplomacy by negotiation. This is not a flip-flop. It is reality.

Mr. Kaplan and others are stating that President Bush’s initial hard line (possible use of force) with Iran and now his apparent diplomatic (by negotiation) posture is a “major reversal”. This cannot be further from the truth. Several other nations have capitulated to President Bush. Iran so far has not. Again, given the current military posture of the United States, President Bush is turning to diplomacy by negotiation to see what gains can be made with regards to Iran.

As Mr. Kaplan aptly points out, President Bush is bringing the allies in Europe on line to ensure unity of effort for diplomacy by negotiation. However, he is also bringing the allies on line for diplomacy by force (UN Security Council resolution) if needed in the future. He is also drawing them on board if another battle needs to be waged in the Middle East.

Whether the allies in Europe will actually involve themselves in a war with Iran has yet to be seen, but he is bringing them on board and buying time for diplomacy by negotiation and possible drawdown of forces (or need of forces) in Iraq in the future. President Bush is not only actively engaged currently in diplomacy by force, but he is also aptly engaged (and bringing Europe into the engagement) in diplomacy by negotiation.

“The United States wouldn't offer carrots, and the Europeans wouldn't threaten sticks.”

The very fact that Mr. Kaplan makes this statement puts the United States in a position of power. Let me elaborate. If Venezuela attempted to negotiate with the United States to pull out of all its forces from the Middle East or they would stop shipping oil, we would laugh at this position and not take the government their seriously. They are not bargaining from a position of power. Similarly, European powers also cannot bargain from a position of power (threatening sticks). They must bargain from a neutral position (offer carrots).

The United States joining forces with European powers adds consequences for Iran’s refusals to negotiate. Again, this is not a policy reversal of President Bush; it is giving power to the European position. It also aids the United States future position of executing diplomacy by force if necessary.

Diplomacy by negotiation can only be effective if diplomacy by force is threatened. At the current time, this is the only form of diplomacy available to the United States due to limited forces available. Joining the European allies helps the United States in the future while keeping the current pressure on Iran to capitulate.

It is the very fact that countries are afraid of the “stick” the United States can bring to bear that allows European allies to offer less “carrots” to achieve the stated end—a nuclear free Iran. The threat of the “stick” has allowed the European allies to offer civilian aviation parts and membership in the WTO.

Now it is up to Iran to come more to the center. Three courses of action exist.

1. If Iran does not offer any new positions, future UN sanctions resulting in isolation of Iran will be seen as a policy victory by President Bush and curtail Iran’s future ability to acquire nuclear weapons.

2. If Iran does not offer new positions and UN sanctions are not forthcoming, it will expose the severe weakness of the UN and seal its fate as a useless international body unable to subdue threatening nations. It will also seal the second class status of Old World European nations. The United States has bought time and may very well be postured to take care of the problem by itself resulting in another political victory for President Bush.

3. If Iran does offer new positions and capitulates, then this also will be seen not only as a political victory for President Bush for bringing the “stick” to the negotiations, but also a victory for President Bush on repairing relations with European allies.

Attacking Iran at this moment, may not guarantee success in Iranian nuclear disarmament, is fraught with uncertainty, and will further alienate Old World European powers. Lining up with European powers leads only to successful political outcomes for the United States and continues to buy time for the United States to possibly have the forces necessary to mandate nuclear disarmament in Iran in the future. Given the fact that most checkpoints and security in Iraq is now being provided by Iraqis, diplomacy by negotiation is the safest and surest way to buy time to get Iran to capitulate either by negotiation or by force if necessary.

Saturday, 12 March, 2005  

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