The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Diplomatic Rules of Engagement

There’s something sickeningly predictable about the diplomatic interactions between dictatorial, Islamist regimes (as well as North Korea) and the West. The rules of engagement, from their point of view, go something like this:

  1. Characterize yourself as a victim that has “legitimate grievances” against the parties that are demanding a tangible action on your part.

  2. Lie repeated and convincingly, claiming that any Western concerns are incorrect and ill-founded.

  3. Act very tough, refusing to even negotiate until the Western parties make significant concessions.

  4. If concessions are made, demand more, suggesting that these Western attempts at appeasement are meaningless or insufficient.

  5. Bluster— suggesting that any attempt at sanctions or force will be meant with devastating consequences for the West.

  6. If deadlines are established by the West, do nothing except bluster.

  7. As deadlines approach, make a weak suggestion that negotiation are possible, but make no tangible concessions.

  8. After deadline pass, hold tight until it looks like sanctions or military force will be brought to bear.

  9. Just before the West pulls the trigger, enter into sham negotiations that can be drawn out for months or even years.

  10. At the same time, continue doing what the West would like to see terminated.

  11. Make a few empty promises and even sign an agreement, but do not change your behavior in anyway.

  12. Repeat the above ad nauseam.

You’d think that President Obama, a really smart guy, would recognize these rules of engagement and define tough rules of his own. But it appears that instead, he is naively entering into a game he cannot and will not win.

Tony Karon of Time reports:
President Barack Obama took office promising to pursue a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, but so far, he's gotten little out of Tehran. So little, in fact, that the President has given Iran a September 15 deadline to respond positively to his offer of negotiations, or face a heightening of sanctions. As U.S. officials huddled with European, Russian and Chinese counterparts in Germany on Wednesday to review the issue, Iran signaled that it will, indeed, respond — by offering its own package of proposals to achieve a diplomatic resolution to the standoff. Western leaders at the meeting in Germany urged Iran to agree to a meeting with Russia, China, the key European nations and the U.S. before September 23. But nobody is expecting Iran's proposals to come close to meeting current Western demands, and that could leave Obama facing the unenviable choice either of being painted as feckless, or else moving down a road of escalation that puts a diplomatic solution further beyond reach.

Following the rules of engagement precisely, Iran will offer a “new” package of diplomatic initiatives this coming week as Obama’s stated deadline looms. Their gambit will be touted as a diplomatic victory for the President, allowing him, along with the rest of the West, to continue their feckless approach to a country that will eventually become a nuclear power and may very well destabilize the entire middle east