POLITICAL observations & opinions

* our problems require long term perspective and patience

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 15, 2009

Thomas Friedman writes in the NYT (4-15-09)

  • This is not the great age of diplomacy.
  • this is increasingly an age of pirates, failed states, nonstate actors and nation-building — the stuff of snipers, drones and generals, not diplomats.
  • “We are dealing with states and leaders who either cannot deliver or will not deliver,” notes the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy professor Michael Mandelbaum. “The issues we have with them look less like problems that can be solved and more like conditions that we have to manage.”
    • The ones who can’t deliver — the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan — are the ones who promise to do all sorts of good things
    • The ones who won’t deliver — Iran and North Korea — time and again tell us: “Yes, we need to talk.” But at the end of the day, their hostile relationships with America or the West are so central to the survival strategy of their regimes, so much at the core of their justifications for remaining in power, that it is not in their interest to deliver real reconciliation, but just to pretend to deliver it.
  • The only thing that could change this is a greater exercise of U.S. and allied power.
    • In the case of Afghanistan and Pakistan, that power would have to be used to actually rebuild these states from the inside into modern nations.
    • And in the case of the strong states — Iran and North Korea — we would have to generate much more effective leverage from the outside to get them to change their behavior along the lines we seek.

LMW COMMENT … Friedman has stated the problem beautifully, and he cannot be faulted for failing to supply solutions. All of the problems we face in this complex world, domestic or global, seem to fit Professor Mandelbaum’s description as problems which cannot be solved but must instead be managed. Such problems require a long term perspective and a great deal of patience, which, fortunately for us, are attributes that President Obama has in abundance. A major part of his mission is to teach and convince a majority of Americans to share those virtues, which also means abandoning the single-issue divisive politics that seems to infect so many of us far too often. So far, Obama seems to be succeeding: Republican hate politics has become laughable and the polls show a majority of Americans displaying unusual common sense.

 

Read the entire column at … http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/opinion/15friedman.html?ref=opinion

 

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