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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Soft Power

Our pathetic attempts at controlling nuclear weapons development in Iran continue as (to quote the AP): “The United States and five other world powers … meet Friday in Brussels to discuss what measures can be taken to punish Tehran for its refusal to halt its nuclear enrichment program.”

The West has been all too happy to adopt President Obama’s “soft power” approach. As I predicted month’s ago, it has been an abject failure. Obama’s naive attempts at detente impressed his fans on the Left, but have done nothing but project an image of weakness. Europe, amazingly, has now taken a harder line than our President and has recently prodded Obama to use more harsh language with the Mullahs.

But harsh words don’t much impress the bad actors in Tehran, unless they’re backed up by a credible threat of force. The Mullahs know, to an absolute certainty, that force is now off the table. So words—even harsh words—mean little.

It’s pretty easy to predict what will happen next. The big powers will craft some “soft power” punishment (e.g., new UN resolutions, sanctions, a trade moratorium) and just before they’re set to go into effect, Tehran will make a small conciliatory gesture that will put them on hold. Negotiating theater will start anew, but real progress will never occur.

It appears that the Western powers and our President eschew controlled violence in the short term, but are perfectly willing to risk the catastrophic violence of nuclear weapons, as long as it’s well down the road. As a consequence, the winds of war are freshening in the Middle-East.