September 21, 2013

Discretion, not threats, serves US foreign policy

Letter of the week

Many of us longtime peace movement people are old enough potentially to hurt ourselves in attempting to pat our own backs. But it was our "No more!" message that finally convinced a critical mass of our fellow citizens to oppose American participation in yet another war -- in yet another dismal corner of the empire we can't afford.

Public pressure from ordinary Brits caused their Parliament to vote against helping us Americans with our war plans. And then the question sort of had to be put to our Congress, where its defeat became all but certain.

For example, one Republican congressman from the Old Confederacy admitted that his office had received no calls or emails, none, in support of the massive missile launch that apparently was planned. In a democracy, it's politically perilous to do things that are so massively unpopular.

Congressional Republicans, who will automatically oppose anything that Barack Obama advocates, were also an important element of this victory. Averting war is way too important to question motives, so I'll avoid name-calling this time and just say, "Welcome to the peace movement!" (It's a place where most of them will be pretty uncomfortable, anyway.)

The Obama administration and its friends will claim that their threats were what prompted Russia and Syria to look for and sign off on the diplomatic solution that is now an all-but-certain outcome.

The reality is, the Obama people wanted to fight, and the citizenry stopped them. Threats can be useful, carrying out those threats can't.

I'm old enough to remember very well the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was also precipitated by a "tough-talking" remark from an American president. I'd conclude that discretion, and a real commitment to diplomacy, will serve us even better than threats in the future.

 

James Silin, Whitefield

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