Diplomacy Update

The Syria and Iran deals were evidently not what they seemed, unless you’d already become inured to this Administration’s amateur-hour grasp of policy process. In which case they were.

Published on: December 2, 2013
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  • Dave from Boston

    I don’t get how the President can be so Machiavellian in domestic politics yet Utopian regarding international politics. Surely the President must know that Eurasian politics make Chicago look like kindergarten.

    Is this a case of wanting to disengage and reallocate federal resources so bad that they are deliberately ignoring the consequences?

    What can they be thinking?

    • I don’t especially like the vocabulary you’ve chosen: you’re using Machiavellian in a vulgar, common sense, and you’re using Utopian in a way that doesn’t really capture Obama’s nature. But I agree with the hunch: This President so privileges a certain vision of domestic politics that anything that distracts is discounted, as are the consequences.

      I like Machiavelli. He was the first realist, so don’t fall for the calumny launched by the Church against him that informs the twisted meaning of “Machiavellian” nowadays. As for Utopianism, no, not so simple. Obama is a strange combination of utopian impulses–witness his zero-nukes nonsense–and Niebuhrian morality–witness his Nobel Prize speech. He is especially keen to limits and unintended consequences, which is good–to a point. He is wary about the use of U.S. power, and I think guilty about it to some degree. Whatever his heart’s desire, this is a very risk-averse decisionmaker, even when trying to avoid short-term risk ends up creating more risk down the road. This isn’t how a utopian behaves.

  • Fat_Man

    The US did use an a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for CW destruction in the 1990s. The facility was apparently removed. Perhaps it could be restarted.


  • Thirdsyphon

    Regarding Syria, it seems awfully petty complain that a deal allowing the United States to remove and destroy Assad’s chemical weapons stock was ill-struck simply because it leaves the United States in possession that which we have (rightfully, with WRM’s strenuous encouragement and blessing) demanded. Who else was ever going to destroy these materials for them? Russia?

    And as to Iran, it it really news to anyone that Tehran is threatening to “revert to our previous position and cease the process” if the talks should break down? We’re threatening them with exactly the same outcome. Likewise, are we supposed to be scandalized that a deputy foreign minister is on the record as saying he doesn’t trust the United States? I could pull up any number of quotes from American officials (including the President) in which they proudly declare that we don’t trust them either. . . which we all presumably knew going in, since that’s been the avowed state of US-Iranian relations since 1979.

    A final issue of note, if only for its absence from this post, is the Chinese ADIZ. Three days ago, this was the gravest threat to world peace and security that this blog could imagine . . . but now that the Administration’s handling of this confrontation has turned out to be pitch-perfect and successful beyond even the Pentagon’s wildest dreams, I presume we’ll hear no more about it. And *certainly* we won’t be reading any analysis linking Kim Jong-un’s defiance of China a few days ago with the Administration’s deft and effortless humiliation of Beijing over the ADIZ in the days before *that*, because that would mean. . .

    . . .gosh, that would mean abandoning this whole line of argument, wouldn’t it? Much better to move on to the next specious “obamateurism” argument- for instance: Have you heard Obama just shook hands with Raoul Castro???*

    *You should play this one quickly- if it ends in rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba, most of your readership (including me) will be in Havana, smoking cigars.

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