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  • Diplomacy AND Arms

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on January 18th, 2004 (All posts by )

    Instapundit links to a BBC story about Libya’s recent, newly-found diplomatic pliancy. The Beeb claims that it was American threats, not British and American diplomacy which has led to Khaddafy giving up his nuke program. This is news?

    Let me be the millionth person in Blogistan to repeat the ancient dictum, “diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” (I always thought it was Metternich who said this, but it was apparently Frederick the Great.) Either way, the old-timers understood that all the jaw-jaw in the world won’t move anybody off a position they think is advantageous unless there is the prospet of war-war (or some lesser threat) to compel them to do so.

    Modern liberals like talking so much that the mere fact that there might be consequences, if the talking is going nowhere, seems a bit scandalous to them. To the liberal, an endless faculty meeting, where nothing happens, is the model for the whole world. The Europeans, who don’t want to pay for real military power, like the “all talk, all the time” model, too. Sorry dudes. In international politics, death threats are the coin of the realm, and always will be.

    Diplomacy which has no threat underlying it, at minimum withholding some benefit, is mere chit-chat. War without the possibility of some negotiated resolution is mere arbitrary violence. You need both arms and talk, but arms are primary. Of course, when you are fighting against someone like al Qaeda, which isn’t a country, has no interests, has only one desire — your extinction– then there is nothing to talk about. That struggle is like Clausewitz’s hypothesized “absolute war”, which is unlimited in both means and ends and can only conclude with the annihiliation of one side or the other. (Goes who that is going to be.) Fortunately, Col. Khaddafy is someone who can be talked to, i.e. threatened. He has something to lose, and so he is amenable to threats. Which means, with him, diplomacy can work.

    UPDATE. This link (Via Drudge), shows some of the European leadership is composed of people who do understand the basics: EU Military Official Says, Time For Europe To Defend Itself. Finnish general, Gustav Hagglund, chairman of the EU’s military committee, proposes that “[t]he American and the European pillars (of NATO) would be responsible for their respective territorial defences, and would together engage in crisis management outside their own territories.” The U.S. forces wold tackle “high-intensity operations involving terrorism and weapons of mass destruction while Europeans would concentrate on sustained low-intensity crisis management such as conflict prevention.” Hmmm. Sounds like we get all the heavy lifting. I think the Europeans are going to need to add some more hard capabilities, like battalions of infantry and lots of tough, sneaky commandos, not just sending people to direct traffic after the USA has spilled blood somewhere. Still, this is more sensible than the status quo. These people need to develop some capacity to defend themselves and participate in imposing order on the world.

    A coalition of the willing must be a coalition of the capable. The Europeans need to start developing their capabilities. That will take sustained willpower. And cash. Let’s see how far they are willing to go.

     

    9 Responses to “Diplomacy AND Arms”

    1. Vlad the Inhaler Says:

      These people need to develop some capacity to defend themselves and participate in imposing order on the world.

      Last time they tried that things didn’t turn out so well. But you’re right, it’s time to share the load.

      Regarding liberals — and the BBC in particular — they’re not against forceful diplomacy, just against forceful American diplomacy. The BBC didn’t cant indignantly when Hamas said the latest suicide bomber was “not going to be the last … because the march of resistance will continue until the Islamic flag is raised, not only over the minarets of Jerusalem, but over the whole universe.” Apparently they don’t find this sort of talk threatening. George Bush on the other hand….

    2. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Vlad, actually, they’re not against forceful American diplomacy as long as it does what they want it to do. See Bosnia or, more recently, Kosovo. If Chirac and his EU colleagues have decided a sovereign foreign country must be bombed into submission for months on end, and some on the UN Security Council are going to veto it, none of them have a problem with bypassing the UN and decide among themselves to do it, and have the U.S. do all the dirty work. Collateral damage, “dual-use targets” used as a moniker to qualify anything from bridges, ministries blown to bits across from hospitals…no problem. They’re all Serbs so they must be Nazis right ?

      So American force is welcome, as long as it is not used independently by Americans. That’s just way too uncool to consider. Never mind that Hussein has a rapsheet that makes Milosevic look like a little schoolboy. It’s OK for you to bomb the shit ouf of him *because* we asked you to.

      But if we didn’t ask you, it’s not. What do you think you are, independent ? Or even sovereign ? That you can decide when and where use your own armed forces ? Are you, like, mad ?

      And then, yes, there is the issue of George W. Bush. Being American, religious, white, wealthy, powerful family…At least five reasons to be ashamed of himself and not only doesn’t the guy show any guilt…but he’s proud of it !!

      The nerve !!

    3. Jay Manifold Says:

      1. I’m not entirely surprised that a Finnish general would be relatively sensible.

      2. The future Chicago Boyz armament/threat capability is listed here. Attention, all planets of the Solar Federation: we will assume control.

    4. JK Says:

      It is such a waste of time talking as if the EU countries are going to develop a real defense capability any time soon. Where is the evidence that this is even remotely likely? Evidence pointing the other way is strewn all around us, and has been for decades.

      We all have to get used to the ideas that (i) the EU will for the foreseeable future be defending itself with cheap excuses, and that (ii) the only way to do this which feels good is to assume a posture of moral superiority.

      This is our future, which is not pretty. Apparently we will all have to live with it unless and until some truly staggering outrage kills more than just a few thousand Europeans at once.

    5. Lex Says:

      JK, I am in basic agreement with you. I think that any pan-European development is unlikely. “Old Europe” in particular doesn’t want to do anything. They cynically but probably accurately believe that the United States will rescue them from anything too awful because it is in our interest not to let them go down. They may be right about this. New Europe seems to be a little more likely to come up with some capabilities, but they will be small. At least, within their limited capabilities, the smaller European countries seem to want to work with the USA.

      Vlad, I’ll stand by “imposing order on the world.” The Europeans are in no position to overrun the earth like they were 150 years ago. What they need to do is bring hard assets to the business of guarding and maintaining an orderly world order that benefits them and us. Will they step up? I doubt it, in the short term. But as the situation in the Islamic world continues to decay, due to the explosion of unemployable young men among other things, a majority may get terrified into realism. Let’s hope there is no epic disaster to serve as a cathartic event. I do not wish a 9/11-type event (or worse) on anybody.

    6. Miguel Says:

      Great comment Sylvain! I agree 100%.

    7. Vlad the Inhaler Says:

      Lex, I take your basic point. Europe will never again be able to roll, unstoppable, over an abject world.

      What they need to do is bring hard assets to the business of guarding and maintaining an orderly world order that benefits them and us

      It’s become clear since 9-11 that America and Europe have serious differences over what benefits them and us. I, for one, am glad France has no credible threat to back up their diplomatic anti-Americanism abroad.

      Let’s hope there is no epic disaster to serve as a cathartic event. I do not wish a 9/11-type event (or worse) on anybody.

      Indeed. But I wonder how Europe would react to such an event. Would they “wake up” as people have supposed? or would they sink further into the nihilistic, conspiracy-mongering muck. I don’t know the answer, but I sure don’t look forward to an armed Europe if it’s the latter.

      Sylvain, I agree with everything you said except:

      And then, yes, there is the issue of George W. Bush. Being American, religious, white, wealthy, powerful family…At least five reasons to be ashamed of himself and not only doesn’t the guy show any guilt…but he’s proud of it !!

      You forgot to add “straight” to the list of W’s faults.

    8. Mark Garrity Says:

      You guys do realize Khaddafy has been trying to come in from the cold for over a decade don’t you?
      Gary Hart of all people was a hesitant intermediary back in 1992 when the Libyans were begging Bush 1 to take the Lockerbie bombers in return for at least talking about getting off the sanctions list. GHWB turned him down flat. It’s in last Sunday’s Wa. Post. Khaddafy’s efforts to be the leader of the pan Islamist movement competing with Saudi Arabia by building mosques all over the Islamic world with his name on it backfired. UN and US sanctions have wrecked his economy and radicalizing his unemployed has only given him an angry Islamist minority that threatens his own rule. He’s bent over backward to get his oil exports going again. Of course you can go on believing that we can threaten anyone with the majority of our army tied down in Iraq and our reputation and major alliances in tatters but the facts belie that notion.

    9. Lex Says:

      Mark, assuming everything you say is true, the question to answer is: Why now? The answer is that he is low-hanging fruit. We know that conquering and occupying Libya would be an enormous hassle. But Col. K. doesn’t want to throw the dice.