Friday, August 25, 2006

Confused by Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer's column in today's Washington Post left me confused. Honestly.

Is the message, let the French and Italians fall on their face in southern Lebanon and let the UN mission grind to a halt under the weight of its own contradictions, so that the Europeans will decide to join us in an inevitable strike on Iran when the diplomatic process fails?

What confuses me about the column is that a very key option has not been considered: that most countries in the world are prepared to live with nuclear proliferation. So I don't see that failure in southern Lebanon leads to a reassessment of what to do on Iran.

What also surprised me is the approach. Krauthammer is among those who see Iran as a gathering storm and that military action is likely because the UN Security Council won't take effective action. Why does he believe that delays now will produce Euro-Atlantic resolve to take action down the line? He does qualify this as only a possibility, not a certainty, of course.

But what I sense is the real underlying thread is the realization that many Americans might be prepared to also accept an Iranian nuclear program if the alternative is unilateral U.S. action, while it might be possible to recreate the old "Kosovo" coalition if it can be presented as a joint U.S.-European enterprise.

Krauthammer is stuck on horns of the dilemma that no one really wants military action against Iran but there is no way other than force to dissuade mullahs from pursuing their nuclear infrastructure project.

This is not going to be like Kosovo where there was a perceived threat "in the heart of Europe." Europeans are more likely to be convinced by the deterrence logic that Dick Betts wrote about in your spring issue.
Krauthammer is neither a strategist nor a historian.

Anonymous 1:16;

Please note that Iran has all the technological capabilities for building an atomic bomb. There is snow ball's chance in hell of preventing that by bombing.

The power to undo a nuclear capable Iran does not exist in the international arena.

A realist would plan to deal with a nuclear capable Iran.

Personally, I do not believe Iran will leave NPT and build a bomb unless it is attacked by a Nuclear power-they have made too many commitments to NAM and others for them to leave NPT.

I would disregard Mr. Krauthammer if I were you; he is just a journalist.

There are two separate diplomatic activities going on, one with Lebanon and one with Iran. Krauthammer is arguing (or rather hoping) that by our going along with the Europeans in the diplomacy with Iran, they might in the end join us in a military attack on that country. I don't think he is connecting what happens with Lebanon to what he hopes will happen with Iran.

I agree with you, however, that the Europeans and the rest of the world are probably reconciled to a world of uncontrolled nuclear proliferation.
Like all apologists, sloganeers, and complicit parrots for the Bush government, Krauthammer is confronting the grim factbasedreality, - that hollow promises, visionary hopes, impotent threats, and fascist Pax American pipe dreams - do not a workable foriegn policy make.

The warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government have absolutely zero credibility outside there own klans, - I mean closed circles, - and America's very real and perhaps disturbing weakness are exposed to the light of day.

The Bush government's simplistic supremist, goitalone policies increased the wealth and resources of our enemies, and reduced America's security, prospertiy, and credibility.
The US is unprepared to assault Iran unilaterally and is hoping against hope that the Europeans will find some spine--perhaps if EU forces are targeted by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon--and so come along to the conclusion that the mullahs have to be removed.
"The point of the current elaborate exercise in multilateral diplomacy is to slightly alter that future calculation. By demonstrating extraordinary forbearance and accommodation, perhaps we will have purchased the acquiescence of our closest allies -- Britain, Germany and, yes, France -- to a military strike on that fateful day when diplomacy has run its course."

I think what Krauthammer believes is that the actions of the United States were in line with the multilateral wishes of its European Allies. Thus, in exchange for playing the multilateral game, we should expect the Europeans to be with us on the tougher measures to be carried out on "that fateful day when diplomacy has run its course."

The problem is however, that our multilateral efforts were far to simplistic and half-hearted to get that necessary cooperation. Had we instead attempted to lock in the Europeans to a contingency plan for when all of this fell apart (likely no more than comprehensive sanctions given their lack of military might) I think the coming fallout in the "Transatlantic Alliance" could have been avoided.

Of course the price of such a contingency plan to the US would have been the simple, yet politically significant promise that we would offer the Iranians a "security guarantee..." A concept apparently to radical for an administration that did the same for the regime of Mr. Kim in North Korea last fall.

Certainly no one really thinks that after the Iranian offer in 2003 that such a measure had any chance of success. Yet, at least in failure, we might have failed together, rather than the inevitable divergence in policy (vis a vis the EU3 and the US) that will emerge over the fall months and into the spring/summer.

Such a plan had been developed by individuals in the think tank community and members of the German Bundestag, but was essentially put on the shelf by certain congressional staff and the administration.

Really a shame. So very predictable that I'd call it a tragedy. In fact, I mentioned it in my blog today.
Edward - Where is your blog? I was unable to find it via your profile.
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apologies dr. g for the cross-promotion...i'll certainly make it up to you and your always excellent blog in the future.
The whole point of the blogosphere is cross-promotion and cross-fertilization of ideas, so no problem.
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