Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Art of Negotiation

Charles at Little Green Footballs notes that Bush negotiated after 9/11 with Pakistan thusly:

Pervez is really opening up these days; on Tuesday he called for a ban on criticism of Islam, and today he apparently told 60 Minutes that the US threatened to bomb Pakistan after 9/11.

I should hope we did.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said that after the September 11 attacks the United States threatened to bomb his country if it did not cooperate with America’s war campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Musharraf, in an interview with CBS news magazine show “60 Minutes” that will air Sunday, said the threat came from Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage and was given to Musharraf’s intelligence director.

“The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, ‘Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age,”’ Musharraf said.

“I think it was a very rude remark.”

He’s right. That was pretty rude.

Pretty rude. That's negotiation for ya. Sometimes it's rude, rough and tumble, and sometimes, it accumulates some karma.

All the talk in the world means squat, if no action backs up the discussion. We've all seen the impotent parents cooing to their little beasts in hopes that a sing-song voice will elicit the desired behavior. Effective, right?

Ditto house negotiations. The person in the position of strength can smell desperation and is a stooge if he doesn't exploit it. No one likes to be on the receiving end of these "negotiations". It is nice when a deal can end up as a win-win.

Since the terrorist and rogue state problem is a zero-sum game, though, the win-win is this: Stop the madness and we'll let you live and not get "bombed into the stone-ages."

This brings us circuitously to Iran. Some corners of the State Department, including the Secretary herself believed that it was "a really, really bad idea" to allow Iran's President to speak to the United Nations Council on Foreign Relations or be allowed to step foot on American soil. I can see the argument for that, but a nice, if unintended consequence, came out of allowing him to keep his yapper running: Doubters got to hear his beliefs clearly once again.

Never raising his voice and thanking each questioner with a tone that oozed polite hostility, he spent 40 minutes questioning the evidence that the Holocaust ever happened — “I think we should allow more impartial studies to be done on this,” he said after hearing an account of an 81-year-old member, the insurance mogul Maurice R. Greenberg, who saw the Dachau concentration camp as Germany fell — and he refused to even consider Washington’s proposal for Russia to provide Iran with nuclear reactor fuel, and take it back once it is used. (Without the capacity to enrich fuel on its own soil Iran would be unable to make fuel suitable for a nuclear weapon.)

He is not a nice man. He looks civilized. He is Western trained. He's got a jawline cut for Hollywood. And he's a madman intent on destruction. He is calling everyone's bluff.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s habit of answering every question about Iranian policy with a question about American policy was clearly wearing on some of the members, but at the end they acknowledged that he was about as skillful an interlocutor as they had ever encountered. “He is a master of counterpunch, deception, circumlocution,’’ Mr. Scowcroft said, shaking his head. Mr. Blackwill emerged from the conversation wondering how the United States would ever be able to negotiate with this Iranian government.

“If this man represents the prevailing government opinion in Tehran, we are heading for a massive confrontation with Iran,” he said.

There is no negotiating, if negotiating means more talking. Iran's President' has made his stance crystal clear. He either 1) believes that the U.S. will never act to stop his nuclear ambitions due to our dependence on oil or the populace's collective lack of stomach for a fight, or 2) believes they will try to stop Iran's ambitions which would mean loss of Iranian life and he doesn't care, or both. Maybe he feels it's a win-win for him. If America lets Iran nuclear arm--he wins. He can now bully with a serious arsenal. If America stops him--he wins. He figures Iranian popular sentiment will turn to fully support the Mullahs against the world. Or perhaps he feels he has a hand in uniting the Muslim world.

While the Iranian religious leadership have their nefarious schemes, they have a perfect puppet in Ahmadinejad. He is crazy as a fox. He is serious. And he does it all with a smile on his face and with words that sound rational to the Leftest element in the U.S.

Negotiate this.

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