Monday, August 08, 2016

Smart Diplomacy: Knowing who America's, and who the world's, true enemies are

Following a few remarks I read in a discussion on Facebook about how the money provided to Tehran was only Iran's to begin with, I wrote back with four points, as follows:

To provide you with an answer concerning Iran, we need to go back to the Cold War…


Back in the 1980s, we heard — both from within the US and from people throughout Europe — what a terrible danger America was, what a danger this reactionary president, this clueless cowboy, represented to the world, why we should instead seek to find understanding with the Soviets, who were no worse than we in the West were, they are peaceful just like (in fact, more than) we are/were (remember the Sting song?), and why can't we all live together?

In other words: The problem was not the Soviets — don't be so silly — the problem was… that horrific peril, the United States of America (or the West in general) — more specifically, those monstrous American conservatives!

And the Gipper calling the USSR an "evil empire" — what a joke!
What a scandal that someone ought to be so backwards-thinking:
Don't The Russians Love Their Children Too?

After the wall came down — during which it turned out that all of Moscow's satellites couldn't get out of the Kremlin's sphere fast enough — Eastern Europe's new governments brought Soviet war plans to light: Poland "published a Warsaw Pact map showing detailed plans for Soviet nuclear strikes against western Europe" (no, not Fox News; the Guardian, the UK's most leftist daily).

One Soviet military map of Denmark had "only" five targets destroyed by nuclear bombs… Others featured 27 to 52 mushroom clouds.
"During the Cold War, the Soviet military mapped the entire world, parts of it down to the level of individual buildings. The Soviet maps of US and European cities have details that aren’t on domestic maps made around the same time, things like the precise width of roads, the load-bearing capacity of bridges, and the types of factories … The Soviet map of Chatham also includes the dimensions, carrying capacity, clearance, and even the construction materials of bridges over the River Medway" [Wired]
Most ominously, perhaps, Moscow had published common city maps (not military maps) of main cities for future use — all with the new names that the streets were going to get once they were in commie hands (Karl Marx Straat, l'Avenue Lénine, etc)…

In other words, might not the West's leftists have been wise to show a bit more skepticism with regards to Soviet-signed treaties and to the Kremlin's assurances of peaceful intentions?


What is the point of this?

Well, this brings us to today…

(No, I'm not comparing Reagan to Donald Trump, in no way — no way whatsoever — except perhaps for one detail: to point out that every four years, it turns out that whoever is the Republican nominee is described as a "fascist" and compared to no less than Adolf Hitler; finally, after 70 years, when one single candidate does seem to happen to come close to fitting the bill, it turns out that the electorate is unimpressed, due to the opposition having cried "wolf" too many times.)

No, I'm not addressing Donald Trump at all here; I'm talking about the most intelligent president ever to grace the Oval Office with his presence and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's second-to-none smart diplomacy

Of course, hasn't the above been the apologizer-in-chief's main contention for 8 years: that nobody is America's enemy, nobody is the world's enemy, except for… America itself, specifically its despicable conservative extremists?

And so we cozy up to countries like Cuba and Iran; don't the Cubans and the Iranians love their children too?

And again we hear the same type of refrain;
Oh, Obama's Iran move is no big deal; remember, it was Iran's money to begin with; it was just unfrozen; the Iranian nuclear program has been stopped.

This is The Russians Love Their Children Too narrative.

This is again the "it's all (or mostly) America's fault" scenario.

We must try to understand the Iranians, for America (and/or the West) was — illegally (!) — keeping Iran's money, suggesting that the only thing Iran's leaders wanted to do was use it like Western governments use it, building schools and hospitals, etc…

Reminder: the Iranian régime's assets were frozen for a very specific reason: because the Mullahs took over 50 diplomatic personnel (never mind whose country they belonged to) hostage in the late 1970s. During which time the ayatollahs, and the masses, chanted Death to America and Death to the West — cries that continue with as much alacrity today as they have done, continuously, for 40 to 50 years… In all that time, the ayatollahs have not hesitated to provide support for terrorists in the West, while their nation, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, has showed no more concern for diplomatic niceties with Western governments and, indeed, a total lack of respect for same…

Besides, people who don't trust the Bushes, Ted Cruz, and… Ronald Reagan and their ilk suddenly become deeply trusting when it concerns foreign leaders, whether they be from Havana (believe us, Cuba has a far better education system than under Batista) or from Tehran (no nuclear weapons — we promise):
“Cops have caught ‘hostile’ Iranian snoops shooting pictures and video at key city sites at least six times since 9/11 — twice the number previously reported.” Not to mention “a man named Mohammed Alavi was arrested for providing Iran with the floor plan of America’s largest nuclear power plant.”
Gosh, someone should tell Ben Rhodes and John Kerry about this stuff. I’m sure the president would want to know. [Instapundit]
As for Iran's nuclear program having been stopped, where have we heard that before? Oh right, in the 1990s, when another non-warmongering president in the White House sent a previous non-warmongering president to Pyongyang to "successfully" negotiate the end of North Korea's nukes.

Fast-forward to January 2016, when Kim Jong-un boasted that Pyongyang had just detonated its first hydrogen bomb…

If the New York Post is to be believed,
For all this, thank Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. North Korea couldn’t have done it without their gullibility.

Back in 1994, President Clinton prepared to confront North Korea over CIA reports it had built nuclear warheads and its subsequent threats to engulf Japan and South Korea in “a sea of fire.”

Enter self-appointed peacemaker Carter: The ex-prez scurried off to Pyongyang and negotiated a sellout deal that gave North Korea two new reactors and $5 billion in aid in return for a promise to quit seeking nukes.

Clinton embraced this appeasement as achieving “an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula” — with compliance verified by international inspectors. Carter wound up winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his dubious efforts.

But in 2002, the North Koreans ’fessed up: They’d begun violating the accord on Day One. Four years later, Pyongyang detonated its first nuke.
In other words, 12 years after this historic deal, Pyongyang showed that it had never had any to follow the piece of paper it duly signed, whether in spirit or in letter — and, as it were, that it had never had any respect for America or, for that matter, for any of America's politicians, especially the two presidents involved in the deal.

Are we allowed to ask the following question: What does the Iran deal bode for, say, 2028?

And how does it feel to get lectured by a Saudi citizen?
Saudi Prince Bandar: The U.S. nuclear pact with North Korea failed. The Iran deal is worse.
“Writing for the London-based Arabic news Web site Elaph, Badar suggests that President Obama is knowingly making a bad deal, while President Bill Clinton had made a deal with North Korea with the best intentions and the best information he had. . . . The Saudi prince says the new Iran deal and other developments in the region have led him to conclude that a phrase first used by Henry Kissinger – ‘America’s enemies should fear America, but America’s friends should fear America more’ – is correct.”  [Instapundit]
Meanwhile, Cuba was never asked to release a single political prisoner (indeed, Americans were told that they have lessons to learn from the Castro brothers' single-party political system) while Iran's Green Movement was allowed to be ruthlessly suppressed in 2009 with not a peep from the White House.

We keep hearing about the sins of America and of the West. Everyday "evidence" that show that women are allegedly not equal and the ignominy of a couple of U.S. bakers refusing to bake a cake for a wedding that they (rightly or otherwise) do not agree with; all the while, not a peep about Iranians engaging in honor killings and hanging homosexuals from cranes or throwing them off the rooftops of high-rises. (Well, maybe it's not a double standard; apparently, the standard is that the only country that must always, constantly, be demonized is America—or the West broadly depicted.)


Must we ignore the New York Times magazine's interview with Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications — or as they dub him, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru,” who all but tells the Grady Lady that their reporting — and that the news we all of us read to stay informed — is basically worthless?

Lee Smith:
In Rhodes's "narrative" about the Iran deal, negotiations started when the ostensibly moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected president, providing an opening for the administration to reach out in friendship. In reality, as [the NYT's David Samuels] gets administration officials to admit, negotiations began when "hardliner" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still president. It was Rhodes who framed the Iran deal as a choice between peace and war, and it was Rhodes who set up a messaging unit to sell the deal that created an "echo chamber" in the press.
"In the spring of last year," Samuels writes that
legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. "We created an echo chamber," [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. "They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say."

When I suggested that all this dark metafictional play seemed a bit removed from rational debate over America's future role in the world, Rhodes nodded. "In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this," he said. "We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked." He is proud of the way he sold the Iran deal. "We drove them crazy," he said of the deal's opponents.
Gleefully blowing raspberries at U.S. conservatives: another example of geniuses knowing who America's, and who the world's, true enemies are!

And isn't that what Obama's policies, domestic as well as foreign, have been all about for the past eight years?

Should we ignore that with Obama's "peace in our time" in his second inaugural address, the Nobel Peace Prize winner echoed Chamberlain's hailing the Munich agreement with der Führer in 1938? Perhaps it doesn't matter, you think…
 … as William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection writes about Obama's maximum Kinsley-esque gaffe, "Obamaphiles can’t have it both ways. "Either, as they say, he’s the most brilliant speech writer ever who carefully crafts his texts to bring forward historical analogies — in which case he used the phrase deliberately which is frightening – or he’s way overblown and did it without realizing the significance."

And this brings us back to the Soviet Union — or, rather, to Russia…

How has this wonderful new "smart diplomacy" worked out?

How about that Obama and Hillary reset with Russia (now that Russian warplanes buzz U.S. Navy vessels)?

Eight years ago we were told that once the crazy cowboy was out of office, and with someone of Obama's stature in the White House, the world (including Iran and North Korea) would respect America again and a new dawn of peace would arise…

Four years ago, Mitt Romney was mocked by Obama — and rebuked by, among others, the New York Times — for calling Russia America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe." "The 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back" sneered Barack Obama, "because, y'know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years."

(Reminder: Back during the 2008 election campaign, the foolish Sarah Palin was vilified for saying another incredibly dimwitted thing, that the election of a pacifist like Barack Obama to the White House "would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next." Gratefully, more intelligent people than the clueless Republicans, like those writing for Foreign Policy, were around in 2008 to remind everybody that in fact, such an invasion was, and is, "an extremely far-fetched scenario.")

Besides Ukraine (are we also going to be told that, like the billions of dollars were Iran's to begin with, the Crimea was/is Russian land? How about the former Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe?), here are some other headlines from the past 18 months, all from the New York Times or from (left-leaning) mainstream media newspapers:

An American Military Convoy in Europe Aims to Reassure Allies

Steeling for Battle in Poland Against a Newly Aggressive Russia

Poles Steel for Battle, Fearing Russia Will March on Them Next

Norway Reverts to Cold War Mode as Russian Air Patrols Spike

NATO to Expand Military Presence in Europe to Deter Russians

A new appraisal names the United States as one of the threats to Russia's national security for the first time

Russia to increase nuclear arsenal as U.S. plans more firepower in Europe

Welcome to Cold War 2.0 The risk of the Kremlin rolling the dice against NATO is real

And don't get us started on China and its saber-rattling in the South China Sea — a Major Chinese state paper just called for a military strike on Australian ships that enter the South China Sea — or on Turkey, which, following the coup (or disguised purge), is operating a rapprochement with Russia and seems as likely as not to pull out from NATO in the near future…

Excuse me if, while comparing the international scene between 2008 and 2016, one might tend to raise a voice of doubt that the world (never mind the Middle East alone) has become anything close to safer, much less remaining just as safe, or that America, and America's president, aka the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is/are more respected than under the "crazy cowboy" and other previous administrations…

To conclude with the subject with which this comment opened:

Incidentally, it's not just Americans who are enamored — rightly or otherwise — of Ronald Reagan, the man who Polandin 1964 said that there is a simple way to have peace — you can surrender. (The Gipper might have added that the way to make the surrender palatable was to pretend that we are always to blame, to convince the people that the fault is invariably ours…)

There is a bust of a world leader in Budapest; there is another memorial in Prague; in Poland, there is not one statue of this world leader — there are two. It is not Mikhail Gorbachev; nor is it Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. It is a US president and that president is neither John "Mr. cool personified" Kennedy nor Jimmy "détente with the Soviets" Carter nor Barack "détente with every single one of clueless America's alleged enemies" Obama…

For some reason, they are all memorials to a former Hollywood actor