January 06, 2004

Diplomacy Kills!

I heard a few minutes of a repeat of Talk of the Nation driving home from work this evening as they were engaged in the pros and cons of diplomacy vice force in bringing Libya around to the realm of the moderately sane. I wish I could have called them, because this is a false dichotomy. Diplomacy and force are all part of the same spectrum of tools the government has to get what it wants, whether it be something as ephemeral as the difficult to measure safety of its citizens or as concrete as trade consessions. Read your Clausewitz for cripe's sake, Mr. Conan.

Their arguments were also quite tendentious about diplomacy having brought Libya around. After all, the deposing of Saddam Hussein certainly played a role and as I understand it, although discussions had been going on for a while, it was only when a shipment of centrifuges was intercepected on its way to Libya that the tipping point was reached and Qaddafi decided the gig was up. That was not a success driven primarily by diplomacy, but by force. At best, it was a combination of force and diplomacy that reminds one of Wild Bill Hickock's aphorism that a kind word and a gun go further than a kind word alone.

And another thing while I'm on a roll here, aren't sanctions part of the arsenal of diplomacy vice the, um ... arsenal of force? How many times did we have to read about sanctions killing 500,000 Iraqi children? I personally never bought this number, though I am willing to concede that some number of Iraqi children greater than 0 probably did die because of sanctions. We won't ever know how many it really was since there is no reliable way to ever measure it, but I am certain that whatever the actual number of Iraqi chidren killed by sanctions was, far fewer Iraqi children were killed by the US liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's clutches. And that's not even counting the dissolution of the children's prisons. So, couldn't it be argued that the use of force in this cause was actually far more humane than the use of diplomacy, at least when it comes to which caused the death of more Iraqi children?

Posted by Charles Austin at January 6, 2004 10:24 PM