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Diplomacy Uber Alles

You have to give the New York Times credit for something. At least they recognize that continued carping about the president's approach will serve no purpose once the war starts. Unfortunately, they also think that pointless (and inane) Monday morning quarterbacking serves a purpose now. Their basic argument is that the entire Iraq war now represents a "diplomatic failure."

Since the Times doesn't exactly seem to dispute that the war may be necessary -- they describe it as "a war for a legitimate international goal against an execrable tyranny" -- they must mean by "failure" the fact that the French aren't willing to back us up. And yet, they present us with no reason to believe that France would have backed us up under any circumstances. (They do, laughably, imply that if only Bush had backed Kyoto, this split with France wouldn't have happened.)

But then, faced with the fact that countries like Britain and Spain do support us, they argue that it doesn't count because the citizens of these countries don't agree. Huh? So now "diplomacy" is defined not by the relationships between countries, but by public opinion polls in foreign countries? If you're going to discuss Bush's diplomatic track record, don't you need to acknowledge that the vast majority of European countries are on our side? What they seem to mean is that Bush's public relations approach to foreign populations isn't satisfactory for the Times' editors. To which I say: so what?

I wouldn't mind these criticisms if the Times demonstrated in any way that they had alternative approaches which would have gotten the results they want. But if the last decade-plus has taught us anything, it's that (a) nothing will induce Saddam Hussein to behave, (b) no amount of talking will convince France to stand against Saddam Hussein, and (c) the Times will never give credit to a conservative for anything. Sure, Bush could have gotten French (and hence UN) support -- to accomplish nothing. France would have gladly backed the U.S. -- in sending nasty emails to the Iraqi dictator. But no "diplomacy" would have accomplished the goal of regime change in Iraq.


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Comments (2)

Gary Collard:

1) As I read elsewhere today, describing this as a
diplomacy failure is like describing Pearl Harbor as
a failure of air defense.

2) They still repeat the Kyoto canard? It was
voted down 75-0 in the Senate while Clinton was
still in office. What exactly was Bush supposed to
do with that dead issue?

It is a bit sad to see how far the Times has
degenerated, but at least you don't have to turn
past 1A to get the editorials.


Even if it's different from a failure at "diplomacy", a failure at public relations is plenty bad. Bush (unlike Blair) justified war with a different reason every week, and was too-little, too-late in refuting the oil-greed charge and spelling out the vision of a democratic middle-east. If he could have significantly upped foreign opinion of the war and he didn't, it is indeed a failure, and it will a bad headache when anti-American governments are elected or re-elected in Europe.


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