Diplomacy, Mister Putin? Eh…What’s That Again?

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This image (courtesy of “Twilight”) really needs no interpretation.

In an interview with ABC this Sunday morning, US President Barack Obama, after discussing the Syrian situation, turned his attention back to Iran, saying:

“What they [Iran] should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically…

…if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort… you can strike a deal.”

Or, to quote a plethora of Hollywood film Nazis: “You vill do as vee say, or vee have vays to persuade you.”

If you’re bent on making diplomacy work, Mister President, you don’t need a ‘credible threat of force’ to back you up. America’s policy of foreign relations is one of, ‘Do as we say, not as we do’.

Syria has chemical weapons, but never signed the Chemical Weapons Convention 1993. The US signed, but twenty years later still has not destroyed all its stockpile, despite pledging to do so by 2012. Neither, incidentally, has Russia or China.

Iran is developing nuclear power for, it states, peaceful purposes. If it constructs a nuclear bomb, it will have one (1). The US has 5,113 nuclear warheads presently deployed, or in reserve. These are the numbers we know about.[1]

Diplomacy is a lost art in the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin, known for his tough guy image, has more diplomacy in his little finger than the US Administration en masse.

American media was appalled by Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times recently, but every word was true[2]. There’s nothing exceptional about Americans, or America. The country’s falling apart. It’s infrastructure is crumbling away. It’s power service is early 20th century.

America spends so much money maintaining its ‘credible threat of force’ there’s nothing left to even educate its kids properly. The only gainer is the defense industry and its many subsidiary suppliers.

Isn’t it about time President Obama and his Congress did their sums and realized that, if they just took time out for a course in basic diplomacy, they’d achieve so much more good in the world at far less of a cost.

Perhaps they could invite Vladimir Putin over on a lecture tour?

[1] “US Nuclear Weapons Current Status Wikipedia

[2] “A Plea for Caution From Russia” Vladimir V Putin, New York Times, September 11th 2013

4 Replies to “Diplomacy, Mister Putin? Eh…What’s That Again?”

  1. I saw something today on (sorry, forgot) media that said all of the US educational system is focussed on sports, coaches are paid more than any other profession.

    Raising a nation of dullards and dimwits. It’s no wonder bullying is so prevalent.


  2. Thanks for the mention, RJ. 🙂
    You’ve hit the nail on the head once again.
    Headline today: “Kerry to Syria: The Threat of Force is Real”. Classic bullying – holding up clenched fist in threat.
    Diplomacy? Gimme a break! They don’t know the meaning of the word.

  3. Don’t let the fact that he’s right on this particular issue blind you to all that’s wrong and dangerous about Putin.

    And don’t think he’s doing this out of anything other than self-interested pragmatism. His diplomatic largesse didn’t extend to the people of Chechnya. When it fits his own agenda, Putin’s more than happy to bomb the hell out of some place.

    Also, while political reform in Russia never brought the country all the way to a genuine liberal democracy, that was the direction it was heading for a period (for better or for worse). Putin has effectively reversed that. But because he adopted the internationally acceptable “capitalist” brand of totalitarianism (as opposed to that unfashionable “socialist” brand), people don’t seem to have fully cottoned-on to that fact yet.

    He has been in power for the last 14 years and it’s naive to imagine he’d allow a petty thing like an election defeat to ever change that. His regular switching of titles (from Prime Minister to President, back to Prime Minister and now President again) to confound the Russian constitution on term limits should hammer that point home rather forcefully.

    And it’s not like there’s anything benign about this dictatorship. Civil liberties have been shredded. Jail time for rock bands who criticise his policies. Police given freedom to brutalise the gay community and when people complain? Putin passes a law against gay activism worded in such a way as to ensure complaining about police brutality is defined as “gay activism” and warrants jail time. Journalists and political opponents ending up in prison on vague and clearly trumped up charges. He is crushing internal dissent on all levels, making political activism itself a crime.

    Meanwhile he has embraced and encouraged an oligarchical form of hyper-capitalism that can, without hyperbole, truly be described as “gangster” capitalism.

    And on top of all that, there’s talk that he’s going to start investing in the military again. Now that he’s crushed internal dissent and has short-to-medium term cash-flow via natural gas exports to Europe, he can buy a few aircraft carriers and get back to projecting Russian power internationally again. He senses American weakness and wants to become a superpower once more. In fact, some analysts see this Syria situation as Russia flexing muscles rather than Russia seeking a solution.

    None of that is good or to be encouraged. Another Cold War? No thank you! Putin is a dangerous lunatic and the only reason to invite him anywhere on a lecture tour is if you plan to arrest him for war crimes in Chechnya.

    That doesn’t mean his analysis of the current situation in the United States is wrong. Just because he’s a dangerous lunatic doesn’t mean he’s not very clever.

  4. WWW – many US universities and colleges are funded by big business via their sports faculties. Some, though not all, receive more money and facilities than the more academic faculties.

    Twilight – the art of diplomacy is sadly lacking in US politics. It’s hardly surprising given the decade of ‘war that can have no ending’.

    Jim – truly, I can’t disagree with a word you’ve written. It wasn’t my intention to portray Putin as any kind of a saint, merely someone who can run rings around this US Administration when it comes to the use of clever diplomacy. I think he proved that this week. I don’t doubt for a second that Syria has become yet another pawn in the great international power-struggle. While Putin has proved himself despicable in many areas, as a resident of the US I see very clearly the direction this nation is taking politically and it disturbs me greatly. Europe appears to buckle easily under US pressure (while Cameron got his ‘out’ on Syria via the parliamentary vote, it was surely only to save his own political skin in the event of another Iraq-type debacle) and Russia is the only force in the security council to buck US political aspirations.
    It’s surely no coincidence that the nation to gain most if Assad hands over his chemicals, in terms of additional security, is Israel. Putin’s aware of that, and while Kerry’s original suggestion was no more than pure, condescending, sarcasm Putin saw his opportunity to come up with an offer the US couldn’t refuse, given its unshakable commitment to the Jewish nation.
    I still have doubts that Assad’s regime was responsible for the August attacks. Saudi Arabia has such weapons, and the equipment to fire them, and there is some evidence Bandar is implicated, which means the CIA won’t be far behind.
    No matter who he/she is, it seems that every national leader acquires similar aspirations – more and more power for themselves and their countries. Some are more blatant than others. Putin likes his ‘tough guy’ image and makes his intentions obvious; Obama is a lawyer and more two-faced about his.
    It’s a sad state of affairs for the whole world.

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