Friday, April 21, 2006

the disarming effects of diplomacy

Iranians paying tribute to their overlords

An interesting piece here on US-Iranian relations. It was written about a month ago, just after the Bush administration released its new National Security Strategy, and before all the kerfuffle of this month, and I think that among other things, it’s a little too face-value-accepting of the stated ideals of the strategy document, which starts thus:

It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. In the world today, the fundamental character of regimes matters as much as the distribution of power among them. The goal of our statecraft is to help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system. This is the best way to provide enduring security for the American people.

This all sounds unobjectionable, but the question is how democratic movements are to be supported, and whether certain kinds of ‘support’ are productive or counter-productive. My view is that diplomacy and open-handedness, as far as that’s possible, will do more to encourage democracy in the Middle East than the Bush administration’s current strategy, which has alienated states and peoples massively and has created a more dangerous scenario all round. It will take a lot of diplomacy to undo the bad reputation the US has in the region, but there’s no alternative, so they’d better start now.



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