Confrontational U.S. Diplomacy

Email Print



What could
be more undiplomatic than confronting the other side? Accusing them?
Taunting them? Threatening them? Demanding concessions? Refusing
to hear their side? Acting high and mighty? Bluntly invoking "sticks"
if they don't do as demanded? Or simply rejecting what they say
out of hand?

The latest
example of the confrontational diplomacy of the U.S. is that the
accused China
of enabling North Korea to start enriching uranium,
to launch attacks on South Korea, and to behave with impunity. This
follows continuous administration outbursts and accusations over
strength in China's currency, accompanied by demands that China
appreciate its exchange rate against the dollar.

China responded
by terming the accusation "irresponsible."

China had called
for diplomats from the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia, and the
U.S. to meet. Instead the U.S. met with South Korea and Japan in
Washington and demanded that China control its ally.

Does China
control North Korea? Did China encourage its nuclear program? Even
a major voice of the U.S. establishment denies these assertions.
On October 7, 2010, the Council
of Foreign Relations
pointed out that China has twice agreed
to sanctions on North Korea concerning its missile program and nuclear
tests, that "Beijing does not control Pyongyang," and
that "Americans tend to overestimate the influence China has
over North Korea."

A much more
serious case is that of U.S. relations with the Islamic Republic
of Iran. The U.S. does not have diplomatic or consular relations
with Iran. Ever since their revolution in 1979 and the hostage crisis,
the U.S. has maintained a high degree of hostility toward Iran that
perpetually risks erupting into open warfare. The U.S. continually
rebuffs all efforts by Iran to engage in a comprehensive solution
to their differences. For example, the U.S. rejected the Iranian
proposal of 2003
, which Iran presented after Bush's "axis
of evil" speech. (See also here.)
The U.S. continually rejects Iran's proposals in favor of sanctions,
confrontations, and even outright hostilities.

Or consider
the case of Iraq, which did end up with the extreme of confrontation
— a lawless U.S. attack on the country.

Don't think
that this was the doing of only George W. Bush. Many years prior
to Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. was already aiming
to depose Saddam Hussein. The Indian political commentator, Taufiq
Subhan, wrote as follows in his March 14, 1998 article in Economic
and Political Weekly titled "Iraq-US Confrontation: Coercive
Diplomacy, Brinkmanship and War":

as Iraq is concerned, [the] US approach may be expressed in the
shape of the following bald propositions: for the US, the stability
and security of the Gulf is of vital importance; Saddam Hussein
threatens this stability and security; ergo, Saddam Hussein should
be stopped and, if possible, eliminated.

from time to time, US leaders have revealed in public the real
intentions of US policy against Iraq, which is the elimination
of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and that, towards this end, the
sanctions regime will be retained even if Iraq were to fulfil
all the requirements of the UNSC resolutions. Thus, president
Clinton said that u2018the sanctions will be there until the end of
time or as long as he (Saddam Hussein) lasts'.

focus of US policy in the region appears to be a personal confrontation
with president Saddam Hussein. The entire military and foreign
policy apparatus of the world’s sole hegemon is utilised to ensure
the debilitation and eventual demise of president Saddam Hussein
and his regime. Fuller and Lesser have pointed out that US policy
against Iraq u2018hinges on one man'."

The U.S. aim
to depose Saddam Hussein could not be checked by the UN in 1998
anymore than in 2003:

Glass put it most pithily in the New Statesman (February
20) when he said: u2018The US, abetted by whichever countries choose
to support it, has assumed the sole power to decide which UN resolutions
to enforce and how to enforce them.'"

Even in 1998,
this aim trumped all other considerations, including much greater
regional instability and harm to the Iraqi people:

is little regard this [removal of Saddam Hussein] would have on
Iraq itself and the region. A number of commentators have described
how, in the absence of a credible alternative, the departure of
Saddam Hussein and his regime would exacerbate the smouldering
traditional divides between various sections of Iraq's population,
which have become sharper in the aftermath of the Gulf war."

The amazing
propaganda campaign of George W. Bush in the months preceding the
2003 attack on Iraq already had its beginnings in the Clinton and
first Bush administrations:

US and its allies have used information and the media with considerable
finesse in support of their confrontation with Iraq…During the
Gulf War, journalists were firmly controlled by the generals both
in terms of access to the field areas and the nature of information
provided to them…Now, over the seven years since the war, the
media has been systematically used to purvey extensive and deliberate
misinformation about the threat from Iraq. The prestigious Foreign
Report (February, 19) published from London, has pointed out
how Israel is deliberately providing the false information that
is being used by UNSCOM executive chairman, Richard Butler. Thus,
Butler has on several occasions made claims about Iraq's arsenal
which have baffled the Americans and are known to have originated
from Israel…Butler told a Jewish audience (besides mentioning
it an interview to New York Times) that u2018Iraq has biological
weaponry capable of blowing away Tel Aviv'. This, according to
Foreign Report, astonished the CIA…"

In 1998, Tony
Blair was already on board for whatever lies it took to engage public
support for the war:

Shyam Bhatia, in the Observer (February 22), has pointed
out that u2018the propaganda war has been more intense' in the current
crisis than during the run-up to the Gulf War in 1991, u2018with the
intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic leaking details
of Iraq's chemical and biological arsenal'. Bhatia has reported
that in order to beef up public support for the war against Iraq,
prime minister Blair told Clinton that their priority must be
u2018to u2018educate' public opinion against Saddam Hussein, no matter
what the veracity of the accusations'. Bhatia has quoted a western
diplomat saying that: u2018we fall into the same trap [as Iraq] by
being even more extravagant and exotic in our untruths.'"

Another example
of confrontational U.S. methods, this time with Russia, is the expansion
of NATO into places like Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania,
Slovenia, and Slovakia. Others such as Ukraine and Georgia are looking
at an open door to join.

diplomacy continues under Obama. One stream of it feeds Middle Eastern
policy. The speeches of both Obama and Hillary Clinton before the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is America's
Pro-Israel Lobby, are so one-sidedly in support of Israel and so
single-mindedly identify American interests with Israeli interests
as to defy belief. Read, for example, this
of Clinton or
this one
. Consider Obama's speech
before AIPAC
in which he said:

will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will
do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear
weapon. Everything in my power. Everything."

pernicious influence of this Jewish lobby on U.S. foreign policy
in that region boggles the mind. Tied in, as it is, with prominent
neoconservatives who revolve into and out of government, lobbying,
think-tanks, academia, and employment in the military-industrial
complex, AIPAC and these associated tributaries translate into confrontational
diplomacy with whomever Israel identifies as its enemies.

when all diplomacy has apparently failed because it has been made
to fail by dint of being confrontational, and when Iran, in its
own interests, has gone far enough with its nuclear technologies,
and when the government stands to benefit through its effects on
domestic politics, the ingredients will all be in place for the
U.S. government to mount a propaganda campaign and attack Iran,
despite the misgivings of the military and the predictably horrendous
consequences such an action would have for Americans.

8, 2010

S. Rozeff [send him mail]
is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
He is the author of the free e-book Essays
on American Empire

Best of Michael S. Rozeff

Email Print