Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dodd, Ambassador At Large

If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him -- Cardinal Richelieu

US Sen. Dodd is like one of those Russian dolls in a doll; open one up and you find another inside. Open that one, and you find yet another. Somewhere inside all the Dodd dolls is an "ambassador to the world" doll strutting its hour upon the stage. Dodd's ideas about the efficacy of diplomacy in Arabia are certain to go over big with the French. Ever since the age of Richelieu, the French have been masters in diplomacy. When news of the death of Richelieu was brought to the pope of the day, he is reported to have said, "If there is no God, Richelieu will have lived a good life; and if there is a God, he will have much to answer for." So with all diplomats.

Reviewing a David Pryce-Jones book, Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews, Mark Steyn remarks:

“Since the time of Napoleon III, French diplomats have described the country (the Middle East) as ‘une puissance musulmane’ -- a Muslim power. They meant it originally in the same sense that Queen Victoria was a Hindu empress. Instead, the more enthusiastically they took up the dictators and fanatics of the region, the more humiliations have been visited upon them. It couldn't happen to a more deserving geopolitical poseur, of course. But, with the largest Muslim population in Western Europe increasingly hostile to the French state and all its works, the Fifth Republic, concludes David Pryce-Jones, 'is acquiring an internal reality as "une puissance musulmane" on lines quite different from anything envisaged by those who have fostered this intellectual illusion.' Painstakingly culled from decades of extraordinarily smug dispatches in the Quai's archives, this book (at a time when the striped-pants set are back in the ascendancy in Washington) is a sobering lesson in the limitations of foreign policy 'expertise.' Pryce-Jones's title is especially well chosen: in the end, French policy has been a betrayal of France itself.”

The Arabs have a way of eating and spitting out diplomats. When one of the Imams supporting the war against the war on terror predicted that the West, despite its superiority in weaponry, would lose in the struggle for supremacy because “Arabs are patient,” while the goal driven West is anxious, he spoke for all Arabs.

Now that the US Congress in its wisdom has decided to send emissaries to Syria and Iran to sue for peace in Iraq on its own terms, Cindy Sheehan’s prescription for peace in the Middle East is becoming more and more palatable. If we have already decided that the West has lost the war on terror, why not cut and run before there are more fatalities?

As a general rule, negotiations between belligerents after a war has commenced usually involve terms of surrender. That is why leaders of counties at war with each other are unwilling to negotiate until victory has been decided. Once victory has been achieved, negotiations are fairly straight forward: The victors simply dictate the terms of surrender to the conquered. In cases in which victory has not been decided, negotiations can only be considered, to turn a phrase, war by other means. The Middle East does not present the happiest theatre of action for diplomats representing disparate congressional and presidential ambitions.

The real problem in negotiating with Middle East terrorists and their client states -- Syria and Iran -- is that there is no clear cut victor in the battle between the United States and the terrorist network.

The only realists on the political stage in the Middle East just now are the anti-diplomats: Sheehan, the abandoned Bush, the imams, the terrorists, and the forlorn women of Arabia, doomed for the next few decades to be imprisoned in their burkas.

The small window of opportunity United States opened for both women in the Middle East and young students struggling to break free of 10th century mullahs is about to be banged shut by the too clever Richelieus of the 21st century.
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