Friday, May 29, 2009

Letting War Criminals Walk . . .

and letting their mind-sets prevail.

Just a quick comment.

At work yesterday, I fought off sleep listening to NPR's Intelligence Squared. (Don't hit the link, please, until you hear me out.) It was an Oxford-style debate on the question:
Resolved: Is Diplomacy With Iran Going Nowhere?

For the Affirmative: Liz Cheney & Daniel Senor

Against the Motion: Nicholas Burns & Kenneth M. Pollack
Burns and Pollack did a sub-par performance, IMO, defending Obama's 'new way forward' policy. I was on pins and needles waiting in vain for two shoes to be dropped or thrown.

The Shoes?
  • Before you can ask if 'diplomacy is working' you have to ask 'what diplomacy'? There are no diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington. Is it not patently clear that the proper question is:
    What will it take to open diplomatic relations with Tehran and Washington?
    If one does not recognize a government diplomatically, that is tantamount to denying the legitimacy of that government. Until you recognize a government by opening an embassy, you cannot be considered to be carrying on diplomacy with it.

  • Instead of establishing diplomatic relations with Tehran, the participants assumed the only appropriate goal of any negotiations with Tehran had to do with nuclear proliferation. Wrong and inverted priority, IMO. Non-Proliferation is a critically important goal in American foreign policy, I concede. But, theoretically and legally speaking, Iran has as much a right to possess nukes as does Israel. No one in the room wanted to take U.S. military options off the table; in fact everyone affirmed quite the contrary. Therefore, I conclude the Busheney doctrine of preventive war was still ensconced in the highest strata of America's foreign policy thinking.

  • Thirdly, Liz Cheney's feckless review of Iranian-American non-diplomatic relations was allowed to stand. Artistically, she omitted the 1953 CIA called Operation Ajax, conducted from the US Embassy in Tehran, which organized a coup to overthrow Moussadeq. This has poisoned the well in U.S. - Iranian relations.

  • But finally, and most outrageously: at the beginning of the debate, the Moderator publicly acknowledged the presence of former Vice-President Cheney. There was applause. There was no booing. No shouts of "War Criminal".
At the end of this civil debate, I turned off my radio in disgust. The civility of this debate convinced me more than anything else: the additional photos from Abu Ghraib need to be released. The world, including my fellow Americans, need to see what Busheney have wrought.

If the perps get to walk, they should not be allowed to walk in peace.