Posts Tagged ‘Diplomacy’

smart powerSticking the word "smart" in front of almost anything is a practice that must end.

As evidence, I offer the Smart Car, the worst car of the last decade, and calls for more Smart Power.

We’re all aware, of course, that our stupid cars and our stupid power just won’t cut it anymore.

What is Smart Power? It’s merely another effort to grab more mission, manpower, and money for the diplomatic corps. Just how does that make it "smart," anymore than giving $56 billion to TSA to make air travel safer (or not)?

We’ve ended up in the current State Department/Department of Defense configuration we have for a reason. If circumstances have changed, let the appropriators argue it out, but don’t besmirch logic and reality by jamming ‘smart’ in front of something that may make sense and work, or may not.

A better way to advocate for the hopes (no disrespect intended, but that’s what they are) imbedded within the Smart Power call would be instead to simply use the most correct tool for the job. (Just don’t use the terms "toolbox" or "quiver," which should also be similarly banned from the vernacular, unless talking carpentry or archery.)



From the AP (via we find out Russia opposes any more sanctions on Iran.

Russia made clear Saturday that it opposes slapping more sanctions on Iran in the standoff over its nuclear program, arguing that their effects would go beyond the international community’s agreed aims.

Actually, it sounds like Russia is trying to unilaterally determine what the “international community’s agreed aims” actually are. 

So can we play a mulligan on the reset?

Iran has been hit with several rounds of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Tehran again rebuffed U.N.-drafted proposals at talks in Istanbul in January, generating speculation about more economic pressures.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "any new proposals … would basically be aimed at suffocating the Iranian economy."

Well, no kidding, Sergey.  If Iran continued to be non-compliant, ratcheting up the sanctions was the general idea.  Graduated pressure and all that.  And if more sanctions didn’t work, I think we were supposed to introduce jam-proof broad band internet, Twitter, and Facebook.

He said that "was not part of the agreement" when the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany started trying to allay doubts over Iran’s nuclear intentions with a combination of incentives and pressure.

Lavrov argued that the Istanbul meeting was "not a total failure." And Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov also insisted that there is "very limited and fragile progress," while emphasizing that Russia was against a nuclear-armed Iran.

"There is no alternative to further talks," Ivanov said at a security conference in Munich. "We believe that neither stronger sanctions nor the threat of or, more than that, the use of force can be considered as an effective tool."

Ivanov’s assessment is supportive of the Iranian pattern of deceive and delay.  All other things being equal, time is on Iran’s side.

Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, said that "the door remains open to negotiations." But she added "the United States will not settle for empty diplomacy and talks meant to delay and avoid responsibilities."

So does the Russian position fall into the “delay and avoid” category, and if so, what will be done?

From the Washington Time’s column Inside the Ring.

Why would China block the Beijing visit of Robert Einhorn, State Department adviser on nonproliferation and arms control?

Take the Foreign Service Officer’s test.  Could it be because of:

a)      U.S. arms sales to Taiwan? (more…)

There is a massive preponderance of evidence that shows Iran is going nuclear.  Some of the evidence is physical and some is circumstantial.  For example, Iran is clearly enriching beyond their needs, they have clandestine nuclear facilities, they are developing delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons, and they have clearly and repeatedly stiffed the international community who has been sent forth to inspect.

In fact, Iran’s nuclear program has turned into a sort of slow-motion nightmare, the kind where we know just what’s going to happen next and yet are unresolved or incapable of taking the actions needed to bring the issue to closure.  Perhaps behind-the-scene diplomacy and military planning will save the day?

An Iranian nuclear weapons capability is not a given, but it is certainly the trend line and is unlikely to end well.  China and Russia are both in excellent positions to greatly impact—not control—the outcomes here, but their interests must not align to those of the U.S., because otherwise they would be fully on board with us.

Now, an Iranian opposition group is identifying other clandestine nuclear facilities. True?  False?  Does it seem we have unknown unknowns?