Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Failure Of Foreign Policy

 While not (in general) a purveyor of politics on this site, I do have more than a slight passing interest in International Affairs.  Call it a holdover from a Minor in International Relations (which has done precisely nothing for my life) or that lingering nostalgia of applying - and failing - the Foreign Service hiring process, I still maintain a moderately keen interest in the goings on of the world "out there".

Suffice it to say, this last week the last week has been a rather large, fat foreign policy failure for the country I currently reside in.  Somehow in the period of a week the current administration managed to blatantly insult a sitting head of state (Russia) and then got played in return, initiated the first round of talks with another country (China) starting with preceding the meeting (within hours) by sanctioning persons in the government just prior to having the meeting and then having a rather public argument, and starting to create questions about an agreement put in place by the precious administration (Afghanistan).  Add to this another round of attacks abroad (Syria), and it was a pretty cringeworthy performance for an administration, no matter Red or Blue.

Let us be clear:  I do not particularly agree with any of the countries mentioned above or the leadership.  But that is a separate issue from the performance of the leader of the country I live in.

In general in life, one does not begin a relationship by insulting your potential partners, questioning their motives (or outright calling them a "killer") unless one is either a) supremely confident in one's own cause; b) supremely confident in one's own power, or 3) a fool.  Insulting people first under the guise of "speaking truth to power" works only when those in power care to hear your opinions, value them, or are in a position where they have to listen to them (e.g. a domestic constituency).  For countries where this is not true, there is no need to pay attention to such foolishness.

And this is what it is, foolishness.  Make no mistake.  Were the situation reversed, a Red in for a Blue, we would non-stop here how things were being "badly mishandled", words were "culturally insensitive", and the "amateur attempts at diplomacy" derided.  Instead, tellingly, we hear nothing both silence.

I would like to believe it is the silence of embarrassment.  I fear it is the silence of agreement by people who should know better and by those that have willingly sacrificed everything on the altar of partisan policy.

However, the most alarming thing - at least for the policies of the country I currently live in - is the appearance it leaves with the rest of the world.  These are not the worlds and policies of a country secure in its foreign policy and view of the world.  These are the words of an administration that is weak, looking to prove itself "strong".  In real life, we would call this a bully, and what may even worse, a bully which apparently is spoiling for a fight.

In the current state of affairs, we apparently just name it "business as usual".

14 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:26 AM

    I agree with your comments. Cooperation will not be gained by insulting a country or its leader without providing hard evidence of why you said that. You are only deliberately making an enemy of the other.

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    1. Anonymous - Calling someone a killer in serious tones is not something that we accept in any other medium. Why this would somehow be different is beyond me. You neither impress the person your are saying to nor the people they represent. You merely look angry and dangerously close to writing a check you cannot cash.

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  2. I am going to go out on a limb TB: your biggest failure in applying to the foreign service was that you were not connected to the right people?

    Such positions typically go to The Cloud People or approved members of The Managerial Class.

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    1. Glen, I am not sure - although mid-twenties me and mid-fifties me are very different people. I would say that in general, mid-twenties me was must less thoughtful. I would also say that looking back, I have a pretty severe streak of anti-authoritarianism running through me and implementing policies (for years) that I would likely not agree with would have been punishing. I am certain it has all worked out for the best.

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  3. Well, I think the results of our last presidential election were driven more by trumpophobia than policy. A large contingency suspects that the embarrassing results will eventually be "fixed" with a retirement of President Biden and replacement with President Harris.

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    1. Possibly Leigh - but that presumes that 1) Such a change would be an improvement and 2) that such a transition would take place without incident. History tells us that once in power, individuals are loath to give it up. I can easily see factions developing that would keep the current incumbent in power long after it makes sense (as happened with Woodrow Wilson).

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  4. Hmmmmm.... going further out on that limb... I might also note that you are the wrong gender, the wrong colour, and of the wrong faith and creed too...

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    1. Glen, I honestly feel that all of those had nothing to do with it. I really believe it was due to the fact I did not fit the "mold" of the typical employee.

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  5. ... but at least the Current Occupant did all those things without sounding like a third grader. At least that is what I tell myself. I have never understood the current party's attitude towards international relations. It seems like they either refuse to talk to the other side at all or set such strict measures that success is doomed before it even starts. As much as I hated the Last Occupant, I admired his ability to go into talks with a foreign adversary without setting such restrictions or laying initial groundworks. I thought his talks with North Korea were admirable, even if the person he was talking to is a cold blooded killer.

    I have always subscribed to the adage to "keep your friends close but your enemies closer" and I think the current party does the exact opposite.

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    1. Ed - The fact that the Blue Party cannot (apparently) get the North Korean's to call them back tells me rather a lot about how they view the current administration. And as, to some extent, North Korea is the stalking horse for China, it should be speak volumes to someone.

      Agreed that The Current Occupant managed to not sound like a third grader. Also agree that they seem to have a non-cooperative view of international relations - "Our way or the road". And then when other countries take the road, they are shocked.

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  6. The lies, oppression of political opposition, media complicity, cheerleading from every imaginable sector of power (church, school, civic club, non-profit) that work inside of the borders of the USA have little power to coerce foreign friends or foes. What works on the domestic sheep doesn't work on the foreign wolf.

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    1. Just So, that is similar to my thinking as well. You can ignore, lie to, or bully your domestic population because you have the authority to do so. You cannot do so to those that do not live in your nation.

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  7. Silent because their handlers tell them to shut up.

    But overall, pretty spot on here.

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    1. Possibly by those in the know, Linda. What I was thinking of are those that voted for the current incumbent and thus (in theory) support these actions. These are the people that decreed the previous administration for "ham-handedness" in foreign affairs, yet are quietly silent in the face of this.

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