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 U.S. 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":
"Insofar 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.
"However, 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'.
"…the 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:
"Charles 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:
"There 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:
"The 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:
"Again, 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.
Confrontational 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 speech of Clinton or this one. Consider Obama's speech before AIPAC in which he said:
"We 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."
The 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.
Eventually, 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.
December 8, 2010