Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ideological Constraint in Diplomacy

The similarities between the way in which the Arab League chooses to deal with Israel and the way in which the Bush administration chooses to deal with Iran are strikingly similar. This is what I mean. The Arab League’s recent proposal suggests that Israel should accede to demands before normalization of relations. In other words, Israel should revert to pre 67’ borders, halt settlement expansion, and acknowledge a right of return (according to who you read) before the members of the Arab League accede to peaceful diplomatic postures. The Arab league demands these things before conceding the simple act of normalizing relations with Israel. In past posts I have criticized the Bush administration for engaging in the same behavior towards Iran. It chooses to make demands through shows of force rather than through direct diplomacy. Perhaps there is a similar quality within the mindset of both leaderships. The Arabs have a historical reputation for over-estimating their own power against its enemies. This has left them to engage in numerous irrational acts of war which ultimately led to defeat at the hands of their militarily superior Israeli enemy. And now, our administration continues even after the limits of American power are constantly displayed to us day in and out, to make further demands as if we are in a position of advantage against our future enemies. Let us hope that we can all in time see through this posturing, which is bound to be struck down by the unyielding indifference of reality. The Arabs are not in a leveraged position against Iran. Without U.S. and Israeli power Iran is free to do whatever fool thing it chooses. So too are we free and unconstrained to believe, falsely, that we are in a position of advantage against the emergence of future powers. We as Americans in the global international system are in an increasingly more vulnerable position. Our uni-polarity is being effectively diminished by second rate regional powers, and our leadership refuses to acknowledge the limits of power projection into regions marked by civil conflict.

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