Monday, September 28, 2009

Procrastination Broke Only by Capons and the AOTW

I look at my posts I have in draft and realize that I gave up early last week in making with the posts. Partially, this was because I am the type of person who can get easily distracted by odd little things, like grinding through an old game I've played for hours and hours before (Diablo II) or following Wikipedia links to other Wikipedia articles (Strangely, the last foray got me looking (creep alert!!!) famous cousin couples (yes, there are some presidents in there)), or reading the insanity people produce when they put pen to paper (

So prior to getting to the AOTW, here's some video to get you in the proper mindset and fill space (and no, I've never had a call this insane myself):

Now there were many options this week for the AOTW, all for the same thing, but it came down to the stupidest statement in a serious situation:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is Asshat of the Week!

(note: the asshattery continues to look more ridiculous as Iran keeps testing longer-range missiles. More to come.)

The venue was CNN's show "State of the Union" where Gates proved yesterday that President Obama would have probably broke even replacing him. Here's the quote that earned him the award:

The reality is, there is no military option that does anything more than buy time. The estimates are one to three years or so. And the only way you end up not having a nuclear capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons as opposed to strengthened.

Obviously, they have decided the opposite, or they wouldn't be pushing to get nuclear weapons. And long-range missiles. And defying the gelatin will of the United Nations. And ignoring those sanctions (because they can).

While Googling for quotes, I came across this story from May of 2008 where Gates (then Defense Secretary for Bush) was pushing the exact same idea.

Yesterday, he said: "My view has been that there has been an opportunity through the use of diplomacy and economic sanctions to persuade the Iranians to change their approach to nuclear weapons."

Now it's not that I want to start a war with Iran (that has 'disaster' written all over it for many a reason). But the fact that we're not moving our Iraq forces out of the cities and onto the Iranian border is beyond me. It's called leverage, and when everything else doesn't work, you escalate it (ask my kids). Any threat of "or else" has to mean "or else we'll turn your country into a sheet of fucking glass" or it's one of those lies you're going to get called on.

If you look through history, leaders who created a persona that scared the shit out of their enemies because they didn't know whether the bombing would start if they crossed the line never had to get into wars. Sometimes, they started the wars (and had to be taken out). But every leader who got it right followed some variation on the Reagan philosophy "Peace through Strength." Strength is leverage, and it's what gives the violent an incentive not to push.

And with most every move (the missile shield, indecision on Afghanistan, the pre-candidate statements of the President), the Obama administration has shown an aversion to strengthening what leverage we have. And considering we're dealing with an enemy (militant Islam) that fights wars for decades (Afghanistan, Soviets, 'nuff said) and has no problem sacrificing millions of lives (because sacrificing billions is still out of reach) if it will bring victory, it's foolish (and rank asshattery) to cling to the idea that diplomacy will fix all.

So I think, as I say, while you don't take options off the table, I think there's still room left for diplomacy.

Yes, but when it looks like you've taken some options off the table (despite your statement), you have no chance to get diplomacy to work.


Beth said...

I like the part where you suggest "ask my kids" because truly diplomacy is like parenting, you need to expect respect and follow through on meaningful punishments or they will walk all over you and make you look like an idiot.

Dave Miller said...

I find it interesting that for many on the right, the current Sec Def, your AOTW, was great when he was part of the Bush Admin, but now is just the opposite.

Do you think he has changed his views from then, or do you think the Presidents under whom he has served, have changed him?

Maybe the "real conservatives" just want someone who agrees with them all the time and cannot tolerate dissent, especially from the GOP side of the aisle.

Patrick M said...

Dave: I didn't have a strong opinion on him in either administration. However, the fact that he's still clinging to the diplomacy-only option despite its failure and the fact that we are becoming weaker in the eyes of the world earned him the award. Consistency is only a good thing if it works.