Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Axis of Evil and the "Foreign Policy Crisis": Self-fullfilling Prophecy?

This just on the Washington Post: Bush's adminstration has reached a crisis point with each power named in his (in)famous Axis of Evil speech (link here). Now that's news.

Let me take a different spin on this:
  1. You label three foreign countries as "evil".
  2. You refuse to actually negotiate, instead outsourcing negotiations to powers with different interests than your own.
  3. You invaded a country on the list of three, who at the time had a government in diametric opposition to Islamic fundamentalism (or populism, whatever).
  4. You wonder how you got into this mess.
Now call me what you want, but something's not right with that.

If you want a foreign country to do what you want, ask. Wave a carrot. Shake a stick. But in my mind, if you depend on mediaries to deliver that message, don't be surprised if what you say to the mediary does not reach the foreign country in a way you'd expect, and it's even worse if it's the press. If you demonize a foreign country, and have made a habit of throwing military might around, some might even say somewhat indiscriminately, and you wonder why they want to do everything in their power to deter you from being your next military target of opportunity.

Explain to me, if you led Iran, what you would have to lose. I'd fathom "nothing" simply because by being labelled as evil by a government who has used military force with questionable discrimination means you're a target no matter what you do. The sabre-rattling in your direction is more indication that actionable momentum against you is building. In fact, you'd have an incentive to build nukes just to get the USA something to think about when attacking, since it seems they'll do it anyways if you don't have them. Populism on your own turf only helps your own momentum in this regard, as your citizens also have little desire to be bombed or having to flee street to street fighting.

None of this excuses the actions of Iran and North Korea, but it does explain them. Know your Enemy. Who knows, with a different approach they be not as inclined to be your enemies in the first place. North Korea is probably not going to ever be our friend. Iran, however, could probably have been turned if it had not been demonized in the US for so long for its actions during the initial weeks of the Revolution. Yes, they held Americans hostage. If you're inclined to believe that the government just in power had its hands full consolidating control and being too busy to negotiate with the students occupying the embassy, even more reason to get over it. Perhaps the government even said "it's not worth it" to the students, or formally negotiated. We'll never know, as this got lost in the vitriol. But as the revolution in the United States has some distasteful (I use this term lightly) consequences for anyone associated with British colonial rule, the US should keep in mind that Britain got over it. Maybe it's time the United States did too - they supported the Shah after all - and their citizens actually came home.


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