Today's news says that the International Atomic Energy Agency head, Mohamed ElBaradei, is concerned about an attack on Iran. He colorfully compared the results in the Middle East to a "ball of fire."
And it would make Iran mad, too, he added.
I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already written or implied that leaving military action as an option is dangerous. It would be much wiser, (some) conventional wisdom has it, to assure the leaders of Iran, North Korea, and similar nations that under no circumstances would they be attacked.
It would make them feel better, you see. And that would let them calm down and be nice.
I think that deliberate, reasoned, diplomacy is a good idea. There should be an effort made to settle differences amicably, or at least peacefully. I also think that diplomacy which explicitly rejects military action as a starting point is not always a good idea.
Maybe I've studied too much history. I doubt that sort of diplomatic approach would have worked very well with Atilla the Hun. My Viking ancestors probably wouldn't have paid much attention to 'wisdom' like that either. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't.
I don't think that human beings have changed all that much since the days when Leif Erickson was exiled from Iceland for unnecessary roughness.
There are still people around, in leadership positions, who don't play well with others, and have sublimated anger management issues. Stopping people who wanted control of other countries, and didn't mind killing people to get what they wanted, occupied quite a bit of the twentieth century. Much of the rest of the past century was spent, cleaning up the mess that followed.
Leaders who want what they want, and won't stop until they get it or are dead, present a problem to what I'll call parlor diplomacy.
Parlor diplomacy is the opposite of cowboy diplomacy. Parlor diplomacy is cautious, gentle, understanding, and above all peaceful. The idea behind parlor diplomacy is that deep down inside everybody is nice, and reasonable. All that is necessary to achieve a mutually acceptable settlement is to assure the other party that there is no danger whatsoever of military action, and everything will go smoothly.
To illustrate how parlor diplomacy works, I offer a hypothetical situation. The United States and a selection of other nations are dealing with Kraggothia. Kraggothia used to have another name, but when Kraggoth the Merciless took over, he re-named it.
Kraggothia has been building nuclear reactors, and has a missile development program which alarmists claim puts much of Europe and Africa in danger. These same alarmists claim that Kraggothia's reactors and centrifuges are intended to develop nuclear weapons.
It's possible: Kraggoth has gone to considerable expense to build his nuclear facilities underground.
Here's a flow chart, showing how parlor diplomacy works in a situation like this, to maintain peace through reason.
Looks good on paper, doesn't it? The top half, anyway.
From the News:
- "ElBaradei: Mideast could burn if Iran attacked"
Associated Press (June 21, 2008)
- "DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief warned in comments aired Saturday that any military strike on Iran could turn the Mideast into a "ball of fire" and lead the country to a more aggressive stance on its controversial nuclear program.
- "The comments by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, came in an interview with an Arab television station aired a day after U.S. officials said they believed recent large Israeli military exercises may have been meant to show Israel's ability to hit Iran's nuclear sites.
- " 'In my opinion, a military strike will be the worst ... it will turn the Middle East to a ball of fire,' ElBaradei said on Al-Arabiya television. It also could prompt Iran to press even harder to seek a nuclear program, and force him to resign, he said...."
- "Strike on Iran could turn Mideast into fireball, official says"
CNN (June 21, 2008)
- " DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief warned in comments aired Saturday that any military strike on Iran could turn the Mideast to a 'ball of fire' and lead Iran to a more aggressive stance on its controversial nuclear program....
- "...Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Israel's parliament, suggested steps including banning Iranian planes, ships and sports delegations from entering Western countries.
- " 'There's a long way to go before diplomatic efforts are exhausted,' Hanegbi said. 'The sanctions aren't very strong; they are very shallow; there's a lot of room for enhancing them.'..."
- "Israeli Military Demonstrates Ability to Attack Iran, U.S. Officials Say"
FOXNews (June 20, 2008)
- "American military officials say Israel launched a major military exercise that appeared to be aimed in part at demonstrating its ability to stage an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
- "Israel's military refused to publicly confirm or deny whether the exercise was a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack.
- "But a senior Israeli Air Force official close to the operation told FOX News that the military is preparing for all possibilities with Iran, and during this exercise was testing its refueling capabilities. The source said helicopters were even used to practice how to respond to a downed plane....
- "...There are precedents for unilateral Israeli action in such cases. In 1981, Israeli jets bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility to end dictator Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. And last September Israel bombed a facility in Syria that U.S. officials said was a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korean assistance.
- "A U.S. intelligence report released late last year concluded that Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program, but Israeli intelligence believes that assessment is incorrect and that work is continuing."
Correction (June 22, 2008): I'd keyed in "Iraq" once, where I meant "Iran." Embarrassing. So, if you thought you'd read that I said that ElBaradei is concerned about an attack on Iraq, you were right.