Friday, May 26, 2006

The Seinfeld Strategy for Foreign Policy

"Let's talk," so says Iran. How should the administration respond? Two columnists in WaPo have two different opinions of what we should do. (Is this another example of that infamous liberal bias, I hear so much about?)

Charles Krauthammer's response in not only no but: Hell No! The Krauthammer believes the controversy of whether we should or should not talk to Iran will push the controversy of nucs in Iran off the table and front page. As we debate the merits of an America-only dialoged with Iran, the debate as to how to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon will be forgotten. He sees Iran's offer as the old bait and switch routine – sort of like saying your invading a country because of WMD's, and then when you don't find any, you say you're doing it to bring freedom and democracy to an oppressive regime. While Krauthammer saw no problem in our unilateral, preemptive invasion of Iraq, he's all a quandary over doing the same talk-wise with Iran.

David Ignatius thinks it is in our interest to talk to Iran. Talk, exchange ideas, open lines of communication will be the worse thing that could happen to Iran's ruling mullahs. Openness is the enemy of oppressiveness. Ignatius analogizes the fight against Communism with the fight against the type of oppressive religion practiced in Iran. I've seen this argument before and believe it has merit. I argued much the same thing back in January of aught five,

Peace was Communism's greatest enemy. Containment played a most vital role in preventing the spread of the type of authoritarian communism practiced in previous century, but it was peace that slew the dragon. Communist leaders could maintain a tight control of their population when all felt they were threaten, but remove the threat, push for peace, and the failure of communism's ideology was apparent to any and all.

We won the Cold War because Communism failed to compete in the world market. Planned economies are not as efficient as free markets by any measurement such as per capita income, wealth, or opportunity. Any strategy that pushed for peaceful co-existence, such as détente, was a victory for the side of freedom and a nail in the coffin for Communism.

Is this a winning strategy in the war against oppressive religions such as Islamic extremists that fill the ranks of the terrorists? Remove the threat from the outside and the hate and oppressiveness will turn on itself. Ignatius mentions popular uprisings within Iran demanding more freedom. This will have no chance if Iran feels threaten. Even the most out spoken opponent of Iran's current administration will rally to its defense should the country be attacked. We do the same in this country, should we not expect that to happen in others? Heighten peace, not tension.

"Bait and switch" Iran one better than what Krauthammer fears they are trying to do to us. Do whatever it takes to reduce tension in the Middle East. Make Iran believe they have nothing to worry about from the outside.

At the same time, don't forget the containment strategy for Communism. Terrorism is a world-wide problem and its support will not be tolerated by any nation. If Iran wants to build the bomb, there is nothing short of war – and eventually not even that – can stop them from getting it. Let the Iranian know that if a bomb goes off anywhere and analysis reveals that the fissionable material came from Iran, regime change will be required and enforced under no uncertain terms.

However, peace may accomplish what all the threats and sanctions could never do. If Iran is not threaten from without, the threat from within may be realized.

Given the Bush administration's past track record, I think they should adopt a strategy developed in an episode of Seinfeld. They should do the exact opposite of what they think they should do. Whatever Bush and his Neocon foreign policy wonks think is the best course, the opposite is probably the better course.

Since after the last election, Bush replaced almost everyone except the Neocons, we may have to wait for another three years before the professional statesmanship such as that which defeated Communism and won the Cold War returns to America's foreign policy to win the War on Terror. Can we wait that long?
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