Dangers of Obama’s Diplomacy: The Folly of Talking Wise and Acting Wise without Being Wise
By Con George-Kotzabasis
The above title is a paraphrase from William Shakespeare: “The folly of acting love and talking love, without being in love.” Statecraft like ‘romanticized’ love if exercised without wisdom can have the fate of Love’s Labour’s Lost as depicted in the great comedy of Shakespeare. President Obama by churning a wave of diplomatic exuberance, on whose crest Secretary of State Clinton and numerous envoys will be ‘surfing,’ is hoping to bring the irreconcilable and implacable enemies of America to a conciliatory peaceful agreement of “live and let live,” while placating the rest of the world from the ‘dreadful’ belligerent and war policies of the Bush-Cheney administration by a profligate exhibition of true American values. That is respect for the law and international conventions, seeking the resolution of geopolitical conflicts through international institutions and through consensual consultations with its allies, and living up to the great principles and values as engraved in stone by America’s founding fathers. But in this romanticized attempt in diplomacy he may become a fool of wisdom by playing out his own tragicomedy at the expense of American interests and security as well as of the rest of the civilized world.
The change of venue of the Constitutional lawyer from Harvard to the White House has transformed the attorney-at-law into a revisionist historian if not a fabricator of at least recent American foreign policy. Stephen Sestanovich, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, argued four years ago cogently and brilliantly in his essay American Maximalism, that all the great victories of the USA in geopolitical affairs in the last thirty years under presidents Reagan, Bush senior, and Clinton were accomplished by maximalist hard policies and more often than not in opposition to its European allies. Thus the USA as a ‘soloist’ in the concert of its European allies accomplished the downfall of Soviet Russia under Reagan, the reunification of Germany under Bush senior– which to many international observers was a “masterpiece of the diplomatic art”–against all the protests of the European powers including the UK, and the defeat of the genocidal Milosevic in the Bosnian and Kosovo conflicts under Clinton, when the latter decided to intervene militarily beyond the confines of diplomacy which he considered to be futile. In all these three conflicts it was American ‘maximalist’ intransigence, decisiveness, and leadership that won the day. In the case of the fall of the Soviet Empire it was Reagan’s uncompromising and immovable position on the “zero option,” i.e., the elimination of all Soviet intermediate-range missiles that was the major factor. Gorbachev himself in a private conversation with Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher stated that the turning point of the collapse of the Soviet Union was the lost battle with NATO over nuclear missiles in Europe. Thus it was ‘Reagan’s zero’ that brought the Soviet colossus down.
This is the danger that is enwrapped in Obama’s bouquet of olive branches that his diplomatic ‘couriers’ are delivering in the bosoms of America’s erstwhile enemies, Iran and Syria. That President Obama will be revising these past proven by history successful maximalist policies of the USA in the false hope that Iran and Syria will reciprocate genuinely, and not ingenuously, with likewise measures of amity toward the U.S., and not reading instead on the leaves of those olive branches American weakness which they will exploit to the utmost in achieving their strategic goals, and in the case of Iran by prolonging the negotiations, will render it the invaluable time to acquire nuclear weapons to the ultimate detriment of America’s geopolitical interests and those of its allies, and the dangers that will arise from a nuclear armed Iran with its apocalyptic aims written on its ‘crescent star.’
It’s impossible to believe that this wishful thinking of President Obama that by opening the door of diplomacy to Iran and its sundry terrorist proxies he could reach a peaceful agreement with them, as well as persuade the Ayatollah regime to desist from acquiring nuclear weapons, has not yet being drowned in the flood of recent evidence. The Swat valley agreement between the Pakistan government and the Taliban that presumably would have led to peace in that region, did not last more than a month. Instead of the Taliban laying down their arms as was stipulated by the agreement, it deployed its forces in an incursion of other areas abutting the Swat valley since its leadership had regarded that the Pakistani government was forced into the agreement as a result of weakness. Also, the voluntary and unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza strip of Israeli forces in 2004 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was regarded by Hamas as a clear sign of weakness on the part of Israel instigating it to continue fuelling the second Intifada that started in 2000 and firing ten thousand rockets into Israel.
In view of this incontrovertible and unassailable evidence of the conduct of the Islamist extremists that few serious and acute observers had already predicted the formers’ reaction, i.e., that any negotiations initiated by Western powers or the U.S. with the Islamists would be considered to be by the latter a clear indication of prostrating debilitation on the part of the infidel West. Thus to the Islamists any overture of diplomacy that was set in motion by Western powers would be used merely as a gambit in their irreversible goal to subdue their enemies. Dar al-Islam would employ duplicity and taqqiya throughout any future negotiations in its attempt to defeat Dar al-Harb, the infidels.
Obama’s ark of diplomacy, unlike Noah’s ark, will not survive the flood of deception, guile, and lies that Iran will bring onto the negotiating table. He will find out that his Muslim opponents are masters in dissembling as they have been educated to it by their long proud tradition that will cover any shame, any dishonourable action, as they cover their women with burqas, which could mar their individual or tribal pride.
President Obama’s advocacy of a new foreign policy based on diplomacy will evaporate at the first touch with reality. His seductive universalist campaign to ‘change’ America in the eyes of the world by reappropriating the high moral ground that was presumably lost by Bush, and showing respect to Muslims by pouring oil in the turbulent poisonous pond of the holy warriors of Islam, will end up as a tragic idyll. But the stupendous danger is that in this foolish voyage of diplomacy he will bring the shipwreck of America as a great power. The Shakespearean farce will change under Obama’s directorship into a great American tragedy. And America and the free world will pay a heavy price at the ‘box office’ of geopolitics to see President Obama’s play of “talking wise and acting wise without being wise.”
I rest on my oars:Your turn now