Dawdling Diplomacy Emboldens Terrorists

By Ron Rubin

Published February 28, 2003, issue of February 28, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When confronted by terrorism, action trumps inaction. So runs the conceptual underpinning of President Bush’s case for military pre-emption. Despite such tough rhetoric, America’s dawdling diplomacy regarding the liberation of Iraq makes it seem as though the president has failed to heed his own rule of statecraft.

Nearly half a year has passed since Bush made the case at the United Nations General Assembly for “disarming” Iraq. More than 100 days ago, Congress voted overwhelmingly in favor of going after Saddam Hussein.

In politics, as in life, everything is in the timing. Yet the administration’s haggling with the U.N. Security Council over resolutions and its hectoring of the hapless inspectors serve both to embolden Saddam and those opinion elites who sanctimoniously reach for the moral high ground in covering up for the Iraqi dictator. The administration, as identified with prevaricating Secretary of State Colin Powell, seems ill fitted to play the game of cold-blooded power politics. Too bad the Democratic Party’s base is weighted so much to the left, because next year’s presidential primaries cry out for a challenge to a vulnerable chief executive from the foreign policy right.

At this stage of history, it has fallen to the United States to maintain the order of world civilization. According to Henry Kissinger’s classic work “Diplomacy,” such leadership is consistent with the rules of international relations. In every century in the modern era, Kissinger claims, one nation has emerged to put its stamp on world statecraft. “Almost as if according to some natural law,” he writes, “in every century there seems to emerge a country with the power, the will, and the intellectual and moral impetus to shape the entire international system in accordance with its own values.” Despite America’s diplomatic destiny, Kissinger holds that no nation has been as reluctant as the United States to interfere in the affairs of other nations.

When political bullies and the variegated forces of anti-Americanism sense a disconnect between the rhetoric and action of a would-be crusader nation, the power of the latter languishes. As a result of Bush’s diplomatic shuffle since last fall, American power has dropped. This image of an indecisive leadership threatens American security and world order. Thus, Osama bin Laden had no reluctance to resurface in a broadcast calling for renewed jihad. With a straight face, the North Korean despot Kim Jong Il threw out U.N. arms inspectors and admitted lying about not developing nuclear weapons. Yasser Arafat continues to dangle in power, somehow exempt from the calls for regime change in the Middle East.

Bush’s uncertain leadership has laid the basis for the confluence of attacks on American intentions by the self-appointed representatives of public opinion. To be sure, it does not take much to ignite the latent anti-Americanism from the morally self-righteous, the jealous and the Muslim fundamentalists. But within the mob are those good and innocent people whose values will never be the same once they have acquiesced to the brazen insults directed at the world’s main beacon of freedom. A resolute American-led invasion of Iraq would have avoided such self-doubt and embarrassment about this nation’s intentions.

Domestically, Bush has also paid a price for his prevarication. The stock market meanders lower, Republicans in Congress are hesitant to come to the defense of his economic programs and only one Democratic senator has thus far embraced his tax cut proposal. Six Republican senators have had no fear to declare themselves opposed to the president’s wish to drill for oil in the Alaskan wilderness. Nearly 100 of the nation’s city councils have gone on record against military action in the wake of the president’s perceived waffling.

The lesson of Bush’s indecision is that there is a price to pay in the tough neighborhood of power politics and national self-interest if one insists on behaving like a consensus-driven nice guy. Those who gave us and died for the values of freedom deserve a more clear-headed leadership to execute Western civilization’s precious legacy of moral prescriptions.

Ron Rubin is a professor of political science at Borough of Manhattan Community College and a former legislative assistant to Rep. Jonathan Bingham.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.