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A Return to International Diplomacy

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One of the key criticisms of the former administration was a noted lack of international diplomacy. With Barack Obama’s new team poised to fulfill the promise of change, his administration must place international diplomacy and foreign affairs at the top of its list.

Recently, however, diplomacy has been viewed as a political weakness, greatly tarnishing our respectability and moral standing throughout much of the world. A return to an era of international diplomacy, especially given the current global recession, would ensure that America could  serve again as the beacon of hope for so many abroad. It is our respectability and reputation that are of the utmost importance, and the process of cultivating that reputation requires a keen understanding of global interconnection.

It is difficult to progress as a nation if we do not recognize the power of globalization and the importance of international relations. The Obama administration must reconnect the bonds with our allies while continually seeking new connections. There is truth to the old adage that there is strength in numbers. If we are to contribute to the advances of the 21st century, we, as a nation, must seek an inclusive approach to international affairs.

The controversial phrase, Bush Doctrine speaks to the nature of preemptive war which, many argue, undermines the notion of peaceful disengagement. To peacefully disengage from conflict can be and often is a better means of preventing conflict. The idea, however, that a country is justified in attacking another sovereign nation before a threat is even presented, is,  I would argue, a contradictory stance. A preemptive war, which is based on fear, actualized or not, cannot aid this nation in any attempt at diplomatic relations.

Our relation with other nations, that is, how that relation is perceived, is a very real thing with very real consequences. The Iran Contra Affair speaks volumes to the reality of perceptions, insofar as much of the conflict could have been mitigated with a transparent government and better diplomatic relations. The process of courting allegiances and investing both diplomatic relations and capital into bolstering our international respectability can only make our global reputation that much stronger.

As the saying goes, our reputation must precede us; this suggests that the thought of an American among foreigners, should not elicit images of arrogance and entitlement. We ought to care about our global perception. We ought to take very seriously the ramifications of any attempts, by domestics or foreigners, to tarnish the good name of America. It is the idea of freedom and democracy that we must protect, because, interestingly enough, those concepts protect us.

Non citizens want to become citizens because of these concepts. The ideas of freedom and democracy have motivated countless millions to flee their respective countries and find a safe haven within our borders. If however, our name is tarnished, if we are losing respectability among international communities, people will not choose to come to America. People will grow resentful of our arrogance, and eventually they will attack us. Preventing that attack, however, does not require the use of force; it only requires the recognition of our global status and a strong sense of humility.

About Jason J. Campbell

  • Brunelleschi

    Dave-

    I think you have chronic argue-itis.

    When you arrive at a place like Managua and walk out of the airport, you are greeted by a lot of people offering rides. Its easy and cheap to get around one your own.

    I fail to see why if I go there, and say what I saw to be true-like how relaxed the population was with uniformed kids (some of them very cute young ladies) in FSLN uniforms-that you can’t accept it. It was fact. No one felt repressed by these people.

    The tiny middle class, many living in comfort with ties to Somoza, had already fled by July 19, 1979 the day Somoza fell. He fled to South America, and “someone” followed him and eventually blew up his Mercedes with a bakooza with him inside. The Nicaraguans cheered. hehe

    I didn’t say Locke was for slavery! Locke was where the FF’s got their ideas on private property as key to maintaining stability. Protect private property from seizure from a despot, and people will be free (Liberty). I just pointed out the irony that in practice, this meant slaves, as private property themselves, didn’t get liberty. Liberty was for a select few. That was 18th century. Time to move on, don’t you think?

    “The US should have opposed Somoza..”

    Read your history, we put that dynasty in place! Washington knew it was propping up a dictator, and his dad before him. That is how the US operated in Latin America. Read some history before running your mouth (fingers).

    “Everything belonging to the people is the same as everything belonging to the state.”

    What’s your point? I just mentioned what one random hitchhiker
    told me. I didn’t bother to argue with him. It’s just a little peek into life somewhere else to help you understand that your view is not everyone else’s.

    The FSLN were not communists. That’s Reagan spin. The FSLN was formed on a platform of nationalism in 1961. Marx was not their motivation. Freedom was.

    Finally, as far as objectivity, I am smart enough to know the difference between a PR tour and an objective look around. In the US, we were pounded daily by reports of how hellish Nicaragua had become. There is your lack of objectivity. Don’t go pointing a finger at me because I know the truth. :)

    In fact, one of the more frequent comments I got from sitting in coffee shops chatting was this “What the heck is wrong with your government? Why are they saying such things as we are not free? Now you have seen for yourself. What do you think will happen when you go back and tell people this stuff in the news in North America is complete nonsense?” I had to say “Sorry, I can write, but no one listens to the truth up there.” Your bullshit proves me right.

    Funny story too- The place is poor of course, so streets were not lit well at night. I was walking by myself late at night after a coffee shop chat (they were full of people having the conversation I described above), and since I was watching the ground to not trip, I literally walked into an armed guard holding an AK47 that was guarding an embassy. Doh!

    We scared each other, and I just said “Ola!” And he did too and I kept walking. No big deal. Hardly a communist hell.

    Every Thursday, at the US Embassy in Managua, US citizens that were in country would assemble outside to demonstrate what a bunch of bullshit this all is. I had to see this. I find several dozen Americans there doing what demonstrators do, and the gate was guarded by some FSLN on the outside. Just behind the fence, a stern-faced Marine in dark shades stared out at the crowd with a pouty face. I walked right up to the gate, stared him down, and he wouldn’t flinch. “You KNOW this is bullshit don’t you, and you know this isn’t right.” No response. I looked over at the 2 FLSN that were there to guard me from my own embassy, and gave them a look to show my frustration at how absurd this whole scene is, and they just laughed. They knew it too.

    And you think you know better? You don’t.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Roger,

    Believe me there is no love lost between Nalle and I.

  • Brunelleschi (c)

    He’s loveable for his ability to act right and be completely wrong, and can’t see it.

    It’s shallow and typical from the junkfood-thinking right.

    Maybe we should use the term “GOP Junkthink” (c).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Pablo,

    Maybe if you & Dave had a beer together somewhere in depths of Texas, that all could change.

  • Clavos

    On the streets, in shops, and markets, you would find young people in FSLN uniforms and AK47s, but they were relaxed and the people around them were relaxed-just like if you ran into some uniformed Marines in a Wal Mart in the states.

    I wouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart on a bet; it’s waay too tacky a store, but if by some extreme misfortune I should find myself in a Wal-Mart and then find myself confronted with armed Marines, I would be decidedly UN-relaxed about it.

  • Brunelleschi (c)

    HAHA! Good one.

    I guess I could have said train station.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Roger,

    Seeing as how Nalle is a lover of reggae music I might partake of a joint with him, but I reckon he is far too straight (that is in the hip sense folks) to actually enjoy da herb, and what it can do in opening up the mind from the incessant conditioning rampant in our country.

    Kinda reminds me on how Clavy claims he likes the Grateful Dead’s music, but never saw them live. He only had 30 fucking years to see them, just a tad bit late to see the best band of the last 50 years.

    A beer in Texass with Nalle? No thanks, it would probably be a Coors(as in Adolph Coors) lite, I don’t partake of the silver bullet, and in particular their fascist politics of the last 30 years.

  • Mark (Ede)n

    A joint!!?? Geeze Pablo, that shit’ll make you paranoid. (Just kidding.)

    Mark

  • paulwhoispablo

    Mark,

    No, the drug that makes you paranoid is called cocaine, you know the one that Nalle’s family employer with the help of people such as Oliver North, and Barry Seale helped smuggle into our country and get half of the ghettos addicted to crack. Now that shit makes you paranoid, and I don’t touch that karmic poison.

    I like get up, stand up, fight for your rights, aint got no birthcertifate on me mon, and redemption song, as I inhale the female sweet sticky herb from Jah.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Well, you know Pablo. Your idea might be better if you manage to talk him into it. My hunch is that he’s much more personable once you meet him than what he appears on the written page. Who knows? You might turn him yet into a raving liberal.

  • Clavos

    Kinda reminds me on how Clavy claims he likes the Grateful Dead’s music, but never saw them live. He only had 30 fucking years to see them, just a tad bit late to see the best band of the last 50 years.

    I don’t go to anybody’s live concerts, (or, for that matter, sports events, NASCAR races, or Presidential inaugurations), pablum.

    Theater, the symphony, and the ballet are about it for me.

    Hate mixing with the hoi-polloi.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    How about one-on-one, before your marriage days?

  • STM

    Zing: “you people do horrifying things to the english language. please never say that again.”

    At least don’t have weird accents though like you guys.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    “too much yankee hot-cock and bullshit”

    I kind of like that, Zing. Colorful and to the point!

  • zingzing

    hot cock? colorful? i suppose so.

    and stm, if there’s one thing i would say about australians, other than that they have no business making music, it’s that they should never open their mouths.

    :o

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Happy Australia Day, Stan.

    You too, zing.

  • zingzing

    yay! is australia day akin to our independence day, or is it just a celebration of australia… like if we had a “happy america day!” thing going on. australians shouldn’t make holidays, they should just be happy with the ones god and the british let them have.

    i must stop. sorry stan. it’s just a bit of fun.

  • Cindy D

    Good songs Pablo.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Brune, Nicaragua may be the peoples paradise you describe it as being. My knowledge of it is mostly historical, and it’s certainly been a hell hole for most of its history. Beyond that, my first-hand experience with revolutionary regimes in other parts of the world has led me to have low expectations for freedom, especially when they are founded in socialist or communist ideology, though functionally there’s not much difference between a dictatorship of the people and a dictatoriship of anyone else.

    So I’ll take your word that Nicaragua is perfect. I had heard that it came out of the whole mess better than would be expected. But if that’s the case it’s the rare exception rather than the rule for such small nations. In most other cases it has taken a transitional government, usually under a moderate dictator like the Shah or Pinochet to lay the groundwork and develop the middle class and economic infrastructure to support representative government and freedom.

    From what I can tell, aside from their total ban on abortion they’ve had a fairly decent human rights record for the last decade, which is more than most of their neighbors can claim.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Wonder why there are so many Nicaraguans in Miami?

  • Brunelleschi

    See above. They took their money and ran when Somoza was about to fall.

  • Brunelleschi

    Dave Dave Dave-

    If you are going to just argue off the top of your head, why even do it? If you are just going to put words into someone’s mouth, and argue THAT, it’s a strawman argument.


    “Nicaragua may be the peoples paradise you describe it as being.”

    I didn’t say that at all. It just was far from what you were being told by the admin and the “liberal” media.

    “… it’s certainly been a hell hole for most of its history.”

    Yeah and WHY? Read Inevitable Revolutions by LaFeber. It was a hellhole because hellish dictators were installed by the US. The US has invaded Nicaragua like 14 times.

    “.. low expectations for freedom, especially when they are founded in socialist or communist ideology…”

    You believed propaganda at the time. It was neither.

    “..So I’ll take your word that Nicaragua is perfect….”

    I didn’t say that. Strawman.

    “.. a moderate dictator like the Shah or Pinochet to…”

    MODERATE? That’s like saying we should separate moderate murderers from bad murderers in prison! Neither were moderate. I suspect you tacked the moderate label on because they were US puppets, and you don’t have the ability to think of the US actually doing something wrong.

    “..they’ve had a fairly decent human rights record for the last decade, which is more than most of their neighbors can claim…”

    That’s because they did manage to keep the US out, and their neighbors couldn’t.

    If you don’t meddle in another nation’s affairs, they do tend to settle things themselves. Unfortunately most of Central America never had that chance.

  • STM

    Zing: “yay! is australia day akin to our independence day, or is it just a celebration of australia”.

    We’re intensely patriotic, but not overtly patriotic. No hand on the heart stuff at school assembly or during the national anthem. The only day I’ll ever fly the flag is on Australia Day, when it’s everywhere. But take us to the cricket or the rugby and we’re insane.

    But yes, it is a bit like Independence Day, although like I say, the patriotism thing isn’t so obvious and most Aussies just think it’s great to have another day off (and thus a three-day weekend) in the middle of summer – we get a million public holidays and long weekends in this country on top of the minimum four weeks’ a year annual leave (I get seven weeks) after one year of employment.

    Everyone’s out today having a barbecue, on the boat, drinking beer, at the beach, having lucnh and getting on the vino, down on the Harbour watching the displays, watching the ferry boat races, etc etc.

    That’s what we really enjoy … as you’d expect for a country whose national day actually celebrates the arrival of the first fleet of convict transports in Port Phillip (Sydney Harbour) over 200 years ago to set up a colony to replace the lost American colonies.

    I think this is the reason we are the way we are … we’ve got the convict gene, hate authority and authority figures, dislike people putting on airs and graces (which explains our love-hate relationship with our British and American cousins) and if we were any more laid back, we’d be falling over.

    Perhaps what we are really celebrating is the fact the British sent all the party people of the British Empire to the best place, instead of leaving them on that rock in the north sea while all the good folk packed up and left Britain to come here.

    Now the buggers are knocking down the door to get in, along with everyone else, but that’s another story.

    It’s a triumph of the human spirit that all those convicts remained here in what was at that time a very, very, very harsh land to build one of the world’s great modern democracies.

    On today: It’s a bit cooler than usual today after 45C temperatures during the past week, so there are millions out and about.

    Truly, this is God’s Own Country when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. If you live here, you just never need to go on holidays.

    Sydney: think a cross between Honolulu (for the beaches), Miami (for the waterways and outdoors lifestyle), San Francisco (for the lifestyle generally, but without the fuss and with a whole lot less chardonnay-drinking liberals who embrace democratic socialism without ever getting their hands dirty) and London (for our still obvious British hangover).

    Sadly though, I’ve had to go to work today just like any other public holiday – which is the real reason I get seven weeks’ a year leave.

    I did whack the old Blue Duster on the back of the car today (merde! a Peugeot) … I should be driving a Holden or a Ford. Next time.

  • STM

    Thanks Doc … Australia Day this year also coincides with Chinese New Year, and since we have a huge population of Chinese Australians, the old Sydney town’s been a party town over the weekend.

    Tonight it’ll go bananas down in Chinatown, with lots of fireworks on the harbour.

  • Cindy D

    …it [takes a totalitarian dictatorship]…to support…freedom.

  • Brunelleschi

    Translation-A nation is part of the “free world” if we are free to make money there, regardless of if the people are free.

    The ultimate bullshit was South Africa, under apartheid, was considered part of the free world. That is because whites had private property rights-so it must have been a democracy..right?

    :)

  • STM

    Sorry Brun, South Africa wasn’t considered part of the free world, not by my country, yours or by Britain, which led the international movement to end apartheid and to bring down the Afrikaner-led white government.

    There were trade bans and embargoes in place and serious political and economic pressure applied.

    Interestingly, in Australia we’ve had just as many white south africans migrating (seemed to be mostly South Africans of anglo background) during the apartheid years as we do in the period since the ANC took over (many of whom now seem to be Afrikaners of Dutch descent).

    A good many of them are in Perth, Western Australia, which is the first stop on the continent for those coming across the Indian Ocean from South Africa, although I did go to a local shopping centre in a nearby suburb of Sydney the other week that is known as a South African ghetto (some ghetto, though … you won’t buy a house there under $1 million) and every second accent was South African.

    One of my daughter’s new schoolfriends is South African … they only arrived a year ago from Pretoria and are here to stay.

    This place seems to be the preferred destination for those who’ve had enough one way or the other over there. I suppose we’ll have a few more conservative voters from that latest influx.

  • Clavos

    They took their money and ran when Somoza was about to fall.

    Wonder why they’re still coming in droves?

    I guess one Third World place is like all the others, and Miami does have its proximity to the USA going for it.

  • STM

    And it might sound like madness when you’re choosing new countries to move to, but one of the big reasons they come here, apart from the political and economic stability and the similar weather, is that they are sports fanatics who love cricket and rugby.

    South African rugby teams play in two three-nation rugby competitions involving teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (The Super 14, a state/province/city franchise tournament of yes, 14 teams, and the Tri-Nations rugby, a tournament at international level), and South African cricket team is here at the moment.

    It means they can see their South African teams play all the time in Australia and New Zealand, and can follow the same sports they’ve grown up with, even though they’re no longer living in South Africa.

    I guess they are looking for some familiarity in their lifestyles, although Australian attitudes are, ahem, generally rather different, to say the least.

    In fact, they are belting the sh.it out of us in a day-night cricket game in Adelaide as I speak. Not enough to be rugby world champions, they are now going out of their way to pinch our cricket crown.

    Oh, the horror.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle


    In that case, how would you account for growth of conservatism if it’s not based in religion? From whence does come the impetus?

    Well, I’m sure that there are many reasons, but certainly for some it’s a desire for freedom, which they conclude comes in the form of greater self reliance and less interference from government.

    You may want to argue the point, but the common belief is that the left is the side of bigger government and more control over our day to day lives, and that the right and the conservative side generally wants to minimize government and let us live the way we want to.

    The religious conservatives really don’t fit into this at all, because they want government to leave them alone while at the same time they want government to impose their bizarre beliefs on everyone else. They’re indistinguishable from the left in this regard.

    I think Mike Huckabee was the perfect example of how bad this can get. A theocratic leftist. There ought to be a place for him in the Democratic party, because he sure shouldn’t be a Republican.

    Dave