To a certain extent, the current administration has invested in the realpolitik of liberal internationalist policy-makers like Samantha Power, who promised the U.S. will not cut a bad deal with Iran at the U.N. (I’m aware that it’s just the U.N.).
Yet, such realpolitik often has roots in a base in Western Left-Of-Center, anti-war, pro-peace, human-rights activism.
John Kerry, as Secretary Of State, felt the need to dust-off his anti-war protester credentials in order to placate Code Pink while offering opening remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on potential military action in Syria.
Naturally, this base to which Obama appeals is torn between their ideals and action. After all, how does one achieve ‘peace and transparency’ with heavy use of drone strikes, ‘kinetic military action’ in Libya, and potential wars in Syria and Iran?
One answer is by making ourselves very small, and by achieving any gains in a circumscribed manner, with constant appeals to international rules and coalitions which may or may not exist as we’d like them to.
In other words, we’re pulling out of the region. We’re leaving it up to them, but we are open to making deals with even the worst regimes as long as they say they might be interested in peace and negotiations. Even then, we’ll be reluctant to use force or the threat of force, sacrificing much of our leverage for minimal gains and potentially empty promises.
You’ll recall we made a deal with Assad (not reassuring to most Syrians nor other leaders in the Middle-East), assisted by the opportunistic, undemocratic, thugocratic leader of Russia in order to squeeze out of a tight-spot we didn’t necessarily have to be in (Syria was always tough, but that particular spot…wasn’t good strategy to say the least).
Feel free to highlight my ignorance, but it’s worth keeping in mind as deals with Iran are discussed:
Walter Russell Mead:
‘The details of the deal aren’t publicly available at this point, but the broad outline seems to involve Iran freezing certain nuclear activity while gaining access to up to $50 billion in frozen funds’
‘Past administrations have generally concluded that the price Iran wants for a different relationship with the United States is unsustainably high. Essentially, to get a deal with Iran we would have to sell out all of our other regional allies. That’s not only a moral problem. Throwing over old allies like that would reduce the confidence that America’s allies all over the world have in our support. But there is also a question as to whether Tehran can actually impose a Pax Iranica on the neighborhood. If the US steps out of the picture, and the Turks, Kurds, Gulf monarchies and Israel are all determined to balance against Iran, we could see the region becoming even more unstable and warlike than it already is.’
Basically, there are few good options with Iran, but nearly all the options are worse with a nuclear Iran. The Sunni-led Saudi regime is already looking towards Pakistan for nuclear capabilities to counter. You know, Pakistan, the failing-state which keeps everybody up at night because its nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.
The view from Jerusalem is different: They don’t trust the Iranians, and may soon make other security arrangements as well:
‘Exactly 10 years ago, on October 21, 2003, the so-called Troika of the European Union (the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany: Jack Straw, Dominique de Villepin, Joschka Fischer) together with the leaders of Iran issued the “Tehran Declaration.”
The leader of the Iranian delegation with whom the Troika “claimed a diplomatic coup” (George Bush, take that), was “tough but fair to deal with,” Jack Straw recently said.
The name of that negotiator? Hassan Rohani.’
How is any of this leading to more peace?
A quote from this piece over at the Atlantic: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work
“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.”
Addition: Of course, this implies that the 60’s activist, Left-of-Center, civil-rights crowd and political coalitions they’ve cobbled together currently running our government are racking up bills which are going to come due.
Related: So what are our interests and how do we secure them as the fires in the Middle-East rage? Michael Totten makes a case here in Why We Can’t Leave The Middle-East.’ He gets push-back in the comments.
If only we could break through the hard-line, repressive, Islamist thugocracy down to the pragmatic, pro-democratic Green thinking, this would be a masterstroke, went the current and perhaps wishful thinking.
Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Iran: Keeping The World’s Oddest Couple Together’
Adam Garfinkle piece here. Materialism and Leftism…I’m an amateur still: Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran…Michael Totten Interviews Rick Francona At World Affairs: ‘From Saigon to Baghdad’