The Case for Diplomatic Can-Kicking

In light of the cease-fire that Trump has negotiated in Syria, Ace has some interesting comments. Do read the whole thing, but this is what I’m thinking about:

Is everything fixed, then?

Let me answer that with a question: Is anything ever fixed?

When I was younger and less experienced — and had seen less war — I was a big believer in the Rumsfeld Doctrine, “if the problem seems unsolvable, enlarge it,” that is, don’t chew about the edges if chewing about the edges doesn’t solve things, but go for the whole sandwich if need be.

I also believed the empty Neocon slogans about appeasement and Hitler and Clinton “just kicking the can down the road” in Iraq.

The empty sloganeering went like this: If we don’t permanently solve our diplomatic/military crises once and for ever, then we’re just “kicking the can down the road” and deferring problems until later.

It is very difficult to permanently solve problem – by war or diplomacy. But if you can get the shooting to stop for a significant period of time and allow people to get on with their lives, you’ve done well. We don’t know what will come out of the Syria deal – the problem is most emphatically not solved because most Kurds live in Turkey and Iran and while this is so, at least a portion of the Kurd population will pine for unity with their brothers. But, maybe this deal with allow the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds to start building a life and, just perhaps, rising stability and wealth will make the Kurds outside Turkey less willing to tangle with the Turks? Who knows; and maybe in 5 or 10 years there will be another crisis…and if there is, our job will be to assess our interests and only if we feel there is something crucial concerning us should we offer more than our good offices.

Kicking the can down the road is also not entirely a bad thing. In 1878, the Great Powers of Europe were at loggerheads over what to do with Turkish territory conquered by the Russians in a recent war. Russia, the victor in the war, naturally wanted to have everything her own way. But Austria and Britain weren’t keen on Russian domination in the Balkans. The Germans were at cross purposes because they were trying to keep on good terms with both Russia and Austria. Turkey, naturally, wanted to recover the lost territories. In the end, the British Prime Minister Disreali brokered a settlement which gave Russia some of what she wanted but not total domination of the Balkans.

What is interesting at the time was that the Austrian government was a bit divided on what to do – some arguing for peace even if Russia got advantage, others wanting war to the knife to push the Russians back. The “war to the knife” side saw that whatever deal was made, if it didn’t totally push Russia out, it would just be kicking the can down the road. That the basic problem would remain and would eventually flare up again. And, they were right. The 1914 war was started in roughly the same area and over roughly the same issue: who was to dominate the Balkans? An argument could have been made that the issue should have been fought to a finish in 1878 rather than 1914 – but, had it happened in 1878 then it doesn’t mean that peace and reason would then become triumphant. The aftermath of the actual war to the knife is now known and it isn’t pretty. But by making peace in 1878, the peoples of Europe were spared a major war for 36 years. That is quite a long time, actually. It was a pity that when 1914 came there were no Statesmen of the stature of Disreali (nor any generals who could win the war quickly), but who could foresee that? But even if someone had negotiated an 11th hour agreement in 1914 (as they did the year before in 1913 after the Balkan nations had fought Turkey), it still wouldn’t have solved the problem. Until Russia surrendered her desire for domination of the Balkans, war was always a prospect in the area.

As Ace also points out, World War Two is a bit unique. We were clearly attacked out of the blue and without just cause. Our enemy in Hitler was a purely evil man who had to be destroyed. And we unleashed unlimited power against the enemy – the destruction we wrought was only limited by our capacity to deliver it to the enemy. Had the war in Europe gone on past August of 1945, then Berlin would have been nuked rather than Hiroshima. The level of violence was really astonishing – especially after the allied armies broke into Germany. It is fairly well known how the Russians behaved – and orgy of rape, murder and pillage – but less well known is what the Anglo-American and French forces did. There wasn’t the mass rape and murder that accompanied the Russian invasion (though the French – via their Algerian troops – did permit a great deal of rape as revenge for German rapes in France) but the slightest resistance was met with overwhelming firepower; a great deal of looting went on; Germans were kicked out of their houses to provide billets for allied soldiers. It was a crushing, overwhelming defeat – a defeat so complete that the militarist Germans simply gave up on the concept. But, such a thing is unlikely to repeat itself: both in having such a purely evil enemy and having a political situation where ruthless application of power is possible.

So, can kicking isn’t a completely wrong thing to do. In fact, it is probably the best we can accomplish in most circumstances. With the hope that if its kicked far enough, it will be replaced by some other problem down the road. Because until the End, there will always be problems. There will always be people who feel they have been cheated and/or who think they have a right to someone else’s belongings. Because of this, war will always be in prospect and will, at times, break out. Our job is to permanently have a military ready to fight and then first try our hardest to broker a settlement and, failing that, give the enemy such a lesson about American power that they’ll shy away from trying it a second time. Other than that, we can only wait and see what happens and then deal with it as it arises.

In light of this, permanent alliances and international bodies are a blind ally: they commit us to certain actions even though future events might make a mockery of our commitment. Think about Turkey: suppose we had decided to fight them? Well, as they are NATO allies, that would technically require Spain to go to war against us in defense of their NATO ally Turkey. We hope for friendship – or at least tolerable relations – with all nations; but we can never tell what the future will bring. And, so, we can’t tie our hands in advance – we have to be free to decide as situations arise how we will deal with them.

They say we had to get into NATO and the UN because the world was changing and this is what we needed – but precisely because the world is changing (and always has and always will) it was wrong to get into them. It is time for us to disentangle ourselves and just move forward on the path which seems best to us at the time. It is time, that is, to start kicking the can down the road rather than rushing to war.

14 thoughts on “The Case for Diplomatic Can-Kicking

  1. Retired Spook October 24, 2019 / 7:26 am

    One could make the argument that, because we’re the greatest nation on earth both economically and militarily, we should meddle in everyone else’s affairs. I don’t think it’s a very good argument. I’ve always been an advocate of “speak softly and carry a big stick. Many military leaders favor constant, low grade military conflict for two simple reasons: (1) it keeps the troops sharp, and (2) it strengthens the military industrial complex where many of them will consult or sit on the board after they retire. I personally find that repugnant.

    As Cluster has mentioned, I also find it repugnant that we have leaders who worry about the lives of women and children in other countries and seemingly couldn’t care less about the lives of women and children in Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore, where there is a mass shooting every week; or who worry more about protecting the border between Turkey and Syria than they do our own southern border.

    • Cluster October 24, 2019 / 8:31 am

      The only thing that is constant is change, nothing is ever permanent. Our time in the middle east is over, and probably should have been years earlier. There is nothing the US can do to stop the tribal skirmishes in the middle east and that’s been proven. We should keep an eye on ISIS and if that faction grows, a few tactical air strikes can always significantly diminish their capabilities. I would also like to know what skin the Germans, French, and Brits have in the game because they are a hell of a lot closer to that mess in the desert and they should be there in bigger numbers than we are.

      I do find it despicable that the media, the Pentagon, and the Democrats care a hell of a lot more about foreign citizens than they do the people they govern and I think that’s because with foreigners they always have someone else to blame while there is no one but themselves to point the finger to when it comes to Baltimore, Portland, etc. When was the last time you saw a reporter embedded with school kids in the projects of Chicago who arguably have has equally difficult life as the Syrian children. Inner city gang and drug violence, and the opiod epidemic are killing more people in America each day than in Syria. Additionally, Mexico is becoming more and more violent as the drug cartels prove all the time that they are the ones in charge in that country and 99% of our political class, and 100% of Democrats and Media ignore it.

      Iowa college student Mollie Tibbets was tragically killed by an illegal immigrant and when Elizabeth Warren was asked about it, she said that Americans “need to tackle real problems like family separation at the border” – that comment right there tells you everything you need to know about how Democrats will govern this country. Democrats have failed and abandoned their constituents, so they are looking for new ones.

      • Mark Moser October 24, 2019 / 12:07 pm

        Cluster, I don’t think they care more about foreigners. I don’t’ think they care about them at all. They don’t have to do anything for them, because their not Americans. They can get up on their soapbox and appear to be compassionate and concerned with world affairs and the less fortunate peoples of the world with their proclamations and hand wringing, but no real solutions or help will ever be provided. Pretty much the same game they run here, except they use our money to deceived the gullible in our midst to maintain and expand their power, but offer nothing in terms of actual improving anything.

      • Cluster October 24, 2019 / 2:07 pm

        You’re 100% right Mark, and next time I will use the /sarc suffix when speaking of Democrat compassion lol.

        To Democrats, compassion is a facade, and peoples lives are only good for political leverage. Think: abortion.

        I would not have objected to a bunch of highly trained American military personnel being dropped in to wage all-out war on the predators and make sure the aid got to the suffering people.

        Neither would I.

    • Amazona October 24, 2019 / 1:16 pm

      I agree with you about using American military to intervene in foreign military conflicts, but I do find it acceptable, at least in theory, to use our might for humanitarian purposes. Sudan is a classic example. These people were not caught in a political crossfire so much as simply being there for predators to savage, and when aid was sent in it was confiscated by tribal leaders. I would not have objected to a bunch of highly trained American military personnel being dropped in to wage all-out war on the predators and make sure the aid got to the suffering people.

  2. Cluster October 24, 2019 / 8:54 am

    So yesterday, third world authoritarian wannabe Maxine Waters lectured Mark Zuckerberg about his companies “lack of diversity” and open forum. While I also have issues with Facebooks platform, I had to laugh while reading this article realizing that Spook’s contention that Democrats have projection down to an art form is on full display. Behold Mad Max’s comments:

    Waters slammed Zuckerberg for giving ‘a platform to lie and mislead’ the American people in order to ‘allow Facebook to sell more ads – the impact of this will be a massive voter suppression effort.’

    ‘You announced a new ad policy that gives politicians a license to lie so you can earn more money off this division, I suppose,’ she said.

    ‘Your claim to promote freedom of speech does not ring true Mr. Zuckerberg,’ Waters told him.

    Isn’t this what CNN and MSNBC do every day? Yes it is. They provide a national platform for political pundits and Democrat politicians to lie every day and they sell more ads each time they ramp up the lies and outrage. And as evidenced by Chuck Todd’s melt down the other day with Sen. Ron Johnson, they are not so keen on free speech either.

    Democrats are clowns, and judging by Zuckerberg’s reactions, he realized that too.

  3. Retired Spook October 24, 2019 / 11:32 am

    Completely off topic (and much less serious) Glenn Beck played the recording of this story on his show this morning. I was on the way back from the dentist and almost wrecked my car I was laughing so hard.

    • Cluster October 24, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      Great story …

  4. Cluster October 24, 2019 / 11:46 am

    Quote of the day – Voltaire

    “So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.”

  5. Retired Spook October 24, 2019 / 12:42 pm

    OT, but just another example of the fact that Liberals wreck everything they touch.

    Punitive eco-taxes, aviation regulations, activist investors, green NGOs and climate-aware passengers conspire to force airlines and manufacturers to lower CO2 emissions by using less fuel, which accounts for 99 percent of aviation’s carbon footprint.

    No one has said it explicitly yet, but this relentless pressure to reduce emissions appears to have been a significant factor in the disastrous safety failures of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which resulted in two fatal crashes in the past year, claiming 346 lives.

    The warning from Boeing’s catastrophes is that climate ideology can have fatal consequences.

    • Cluster October 24, 2019 / 4:38 pm

      Every issue the Democrats promote has fatal consequences from endless wars, open borders, to abortion.

      “Killing America and Americans one day at a time” should be the Democrat slogan

  6. Cluster October 24, 2019 / 4:36 pm

    So I caught a little bit of Rush today and a guy from Santa Cruz called in to say how much Trump has taught him over the last 3 years and how he is more of a Trump supporter now than ever before, and I couldn’t agree with him more. In fact the guy said that he hesitantly voted for Trump in 2016, but today would walk thru fire for the guy. I was initially a Rubio guy but quickly moved to Ted Cruz once I saw how small Rubio was on the big stage. I liked Cruz a lot and only came around to Trump when he was eventually chosen as the nominee. Today, my support for him is rock solid and he has also taught me a lot. I trust his instincts explicitly and I love the way he unabashedly fights right back on every issue and never cedes one inch of ground to the leftist mob.

    There are a lot of Democrats who will secretly vote for Trump and I think he has a really good chance of winning California.

  7. JeremiahTMM October 24, 2019 / 8:41 pm

    Seems kind of odd that Bolton and Mattis turned against the President. I don’t why, unless they’ve got a little quid pro quo going on by having a stake in Middle East wars.

    I don’t know, can anyone explain?

  8. jdge1 October 26, 2019 / 1:38 am

    Laugh of the day – an article headline. “Biden Accuses Trump of ‘Squandering’ Obama Era’s Robust Economic Growth”

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