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.