And that's a bad thing? This Mark Steyn column is asinine
(hat tip commenter 6thcitizen
). He speaks of diplomacy as if it were an ineffective waste of time, calling it a "tap dance." Diplomacy is
often a tap dance, and it often, as hard and frustrating as it is, avoids war. It may not solve everyone's problems, give everyone exactly what they want when they want it. But as convoluted, slow-moving, and seemingly stupid as it may be, it can save millions of lives.
Yes, sometimes there are leaders who will take advantage of others' unwillingness or inability to fight, invade multiple nations and spread war. But the alternative, if one disdains diplomacy and its apparent ineffectiveness when results are not immediate and absolute, is constant war.
And to illustrate his and the Bush Administration's lack of complex thought or understanding of how life works, Steyn throws in a metaphor to explain how simple the Iranian situation is, especially when he ignores reality.
You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."
The simple solution to this situation -- which is obviously exactly like the Iranian situation ::rolleyes -- is for the air marshall to stand up and immediately shoot Ahmadinejad in the leg and cuff his arms behind his back, then crawl into his brain and occupy it until it loves democracy, freedom, and Christianity. After all, it's working so well with Saddam.
But what if he really does have a bomb, and when he gets shot, he falls on the detonator and it goes off, killing everyone on board? Or what if it's just a ploy to identify the air marshalls and other passengers willing to stand up and fight, and after Ahmadinejad is disabled or killed, the other terrorists are able to take over the plane? Or what if Ahmadinejad is off his medication, and a frightened Jewish passenger decides to snap his neck in self-defense, and Ahmadinejad's brother, who is flying with him, then retaliates, leading to further escalation and all-out war on the plane? Or what if snakes suddenly drop down like oxygen masks? Pandemonium!
What if, what if. If passenger Ahmadinejad announced he has a bomb, he obviously has a reason for announcing it and giving the air marshall the opportunity to take him down. If Ahmadinejad's purpose was to strike at fellow passenger Israel, then he should have just done it without fanfare, keeping his bomb a secret to the last. After all, it is logical to obtain nukes as a leg up to being a major player in the world. But it is illogical to use nukes as a weapon, unless he is crazy and willing to die, along with all his friends and family.
Knowing that Ahmadinejad has a purpose, the wise air marshall would want to find out what that is, and diplomatically -- you know, by talking, but with a gun at the ready -- attempt to defuse the situation until it becomes clear what the situation is. Perhaps then it will be too late, and everyone will blow up. But the alternative to diplomacy is default war for every adverse situation.
And it may already be too late with Iran
(via Square in the Nuts
). Bush's inability and disdain for diplomacy may have pushed it too far, and every day he thumps his shoe on the table and threatens to bury them brings us closer to all-out war.
But you never know what a madman will do, especially when it comes to self-destructive behavior. Ahmadinejad might be a madman. But Bush might be a madman. So who uses nukes first? The U.S. is the air marshall and Iran is but a passenger on our planet?
Wasn't Stalin a madman? Weren't we afraid of Breshnev? But containment worked with them. It was working with Iraq, since there were no WMDs, and the nuclear program had been shelved. It was working with North Korea, since they didn't develop a bomb until we stopped giving them incentive to not develop nukes.
And the whole reason Ahmadinejad is in power, that conservatism in Iran had an upswing, is Bush's irresponsible rhetoric and shoe-banging about Iran, crusades, Axis of Evil. Bush elevated a relatively small but deadly terrorist threat that could have been dealt with through cooperation amongst states into a huge, multinational, religious, ethnic cultural war with increasing support and recruitment for the terrorists.
We need level-headed adults back in charge, people who talk softly but carry a big stick, not pathological liars who insist on pushing us closer to global conflict. We need diplomacy to try to defuse this, and every other situation.
What can be done in the short-term, I don't know. The chickenhawks are squawking again, having learned not one single thing from the past five years. The President is already invading Iran and probably will do air strikes, contrary to his Constitutional authority. What else is new? My best hope is still this November with a subsequent impeachment, but that will probably be too late.