Saturday, May 17, 2008

Negotiation vs. Appeasement

Scoblic puts it into historical context, showing that negotiation with our enemies always yields more results than taking a more aggressive stance. My choice tidbit:
The modern conservative movement was founded in no small part on the idea that presidents Truman and Eisenhower were "appeasing" the Soviets. The logic went something like this: Because communism was evil, the United States should seek to destroy it, not coexist with it; the bipartisan policy of containment, which sought to prevent the further spread of communism, was a moral and strategic folly because it implied long-term coexistence with Moscow. Conservative foreign policy guru James Burnham wrote entire books claiming that containment -- which, after the Cold War, would be credited with defeating the Soviet Union -- constituted "appeasement."
"Evil" is so loaded with religious overtones, but of course it makes sense that churches would rail against it. After all, Marx wrote "Die Religion ... is das Opium des Volkes." A threat to their power.

I never understood the notion that a US President talking directly to incendiary lunatics like Ahmadinejad would lend legitimacy to his leadership. The guy is a head of state. He may take his ultimate orders from a cabal of mullahs, but some would argue that Bush takes his cues from a cabal of corporate and military interests. Talking to these guys lends legitimacy to taking further action if it is necessary: "We had direct talks which were frank in nature, and Iran steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the foolishness of its efforts to enrich uranium. Until it does, the United States will do everything it can, including additional direct dialogue, to prevent Iran from expanding its nuclear ambitions." See how much better that sounds than, "Iran is a terrorist-funding arm of the Axis of Evil and is a threat to freedom-loving people around the world. We make no differentiation between its government and the thugs and murderers it supports. The United States strongly condemns Iran's expansion of it nuclear programs and vows to end it by any means necessary."

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