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May 20, 2008

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Clearly step two is where they use that short-range mind control lasers that they have developed using special Muslim technology.

That=those sheesh.

I don't know what step two is, but I suspect that it involves the verb "embolden".

Step 2 = Appeasement.

Step 2 = Appeasement

No, talking is appeasement. Just like how gathering threats are imminent.

If someone could explain to me what step 2 looks like, I'd be very much obliged.

OK, it's like this. First you make a cake that looks like a key....

Has Obama actually said he'd talk to Ahmadinejad without any preconditions? I know he'd said he'd talk to Iran, but I wasn't aware of him saying "without preconditions."

Considering that McCain throws a temper tantrum whenever anyone accurately quotes his words on staying 100 years in Iraq, you'd think he'd be more careful about stuff like this. Actually, I guess you wouldn't think that.

FDR and Churchill not only talked to Stalin, they allied with him. JFK talked to Khrushchev. Nixon talked to Khrushchev (even argued with him as Ike's VP) and Mao. Reagan talked to Gorbachev. Bush negotiated (indirectly) with Quaddaffi.

Apparently, all these folks were appeasers.

But Reagan did not talk to JFK!

I think Step Two is where they persuade you that you have been wrong all along, and should join them, turn to the Dark Side, and together you will rule the Galaxy, and... or, er something like that.

Seriously though - a fear to negotiate is often a fear of one's own poor negotiating skills, or one's poor grasp of the situation and underlying facts. That's why I would in fact be a bit afraid to negotiate with a used car dealer: because I know so little about cars that I'd be afraid I'd be tricked. But a lack of geopolitical awareness and knowledge about the Middle East and/or a lack of negotiating skills are hardly an inspiring presidential platform.

In fairness to some, if not to McCain, I should acknowledge that there is another reason to refuse to negotiate. (The trouble is that it's irrelevant here.) One can refuse to negotiate with a government in order to delegitimize it, especially, if, say, there's been a coup or a civil war, and we want to show that we think that a particular faction is not the legitimate government. But that only works if the rest of the world (or most of it) goes along with us. Otherwise, a refusal to talk to that government doesn't marginalize them any more than it marginalizes us. (See US-Cuba policy.) In the case of Iran, nearly every nation on earth recognizes the legitimacy of the Iranian government, so we can't change that by refusing to treat them like a legitimate government.

Thus, by refusing to talk with them we accomplish precisely nothing. If by talking with them we equally accomplished nothing, we wouldn't be any worse off. No, strike that, we'd be better off, because then we could plausibly claim, to the rest of the world, that we had tried to negotiate but the Iranians had been unwilling to be reasonable.

Neville Chamberlain went to talk to Adolf Hilter in Paris. A few months later, Adolf Hilter took control of the Rhineland, uncontested. A few months after that, he invaded Poland.

If we're to have a serious discussion about whether or not we should be allowed to have serious discussions, we should be prudent, serious, and discussiony. And most importantly of all, we should never forget Poland.

that only works if the rest of the world (or most of it) goes along with us.

It only works if the government or quasi-government is delegitimized in the eyes of the governed. Having the world on board can help in that regard, but it can also work the other way.

Does anyone else feel kind of icky agreeing with James Baker about all this?

Hilzoy, for the benefit of newcomers, would you be kind enough to update with a link to the original (brilliant) underpants gnomes post?

McCain is a demagogue. he is a fundamentally unserious, uncivil, shameless, misleading, truth-molesting, disingenuous liar. he has all the integrity of George Bush but without the unintentionally-humorous delivery.

as such, he is the perfect GOP candidate for 2008.

But Reagan did not talk to JFK!

Yes, actually he did, and while in office.

I think Nancy arranged it via a seance hosted by her spiritual advisor. Apparently they brought Sinatra in as a go-between, seeing as old blue eyes and JFK where buddies from back in the Vegas days.

You heard it hear first.

Thanks -

I think it's very simple:
(1) Talk to Iran
(2) De-escalate tensions, soothe Iranian and American fears, recognize that the vast majority of Israelis, Americans, and Iranians are not helped by terrorism, war, or sabre-rattling.
(3) GOP is deprived of fear-mongering platform, and is left advocating the cutting Social Security and lowering taxes on capital gains. ELECTORAL DISASTER!!!

[nb I know, it's an optimistic scenario- but as was pointed out above, there's no risk in talking]

"In this case, that would be Khameini, since Khameini is not only the Supreme Leader of Iran,"

Generally rendered, in English, as Ali Khamenei.

"Khameini" doesn't seem to be a variant spelling. Perhaps you were thinking of "Ruhollah Khomeini", the former Supreme Leader?

Gary F, two points:

(1) Spelling in Latin alphabet of names from non-Latin-alphabet using languages really don't have much standardization. So this is not just pedantry on your part, it's rather uninformed pedantry.

(2) "Khameini" is the spelling that Time magazine, as well as some Israeli English-language publications, use. And I got that with a simple google search of "Ali Khameini"

:p

Step 2: Iran annexes the Sudetenland.

Step 2: wiggly fingers.

Neville Chamberlain went to talk to Adolf Hilter in Paris. A few months later, Adolf Hilter took control of the Rhineland, uncontested. A few months after that, he invaded Poland.

Are you seriously suggesting that Chamberlain's willingness to talk to Hitler provoked the German takeover of the Sudetenland (not the Rhineland, which was re-occupied years earlier) and Poland? Otherwise, it's hard to understand why it's relevant.

The problem with Munich wasn't that Chamberlain talked to Hitler. It wasn't even that he granted Hitler concessions. It was that he granted Hitler concessions after it should have been apparent that Hitler was just going to come back with more demands a few months later.

That's the issue that's missed in most discussions of appeasement. Appeasement isn't just a matter of giving something to the other party in negotiations. The idea of giving something up is inherent to the whole idea of negotiating. Appeasement means that concessions by one party never satisfy the other and only result in more demands.

Roger,
I think that when people use the word discussiony, they are probably not serious.

Although my sarcasm detector is not worth much after the last 7 years- heck, Id just had it fixed up when Bush's Onion-like golf story wrecked it again.

We had quite a good discussion of the subject over at Commissar. The main points opponents of diplomacy made were (1) negotiating with our adversaries convey legitimacy on them and (2) negotiations reward bad behavior so we should insist that the other side stop terrorism (Hamas) or nuclear research (Iran) or other unacceptable behavior before negotiations will proceed.

I don't share these opinions, but I do think it is important to understand the other side's perspective so you can argue explain why it is wrong. Otherwise the debate never goes anywhere

Why does this remind me of a 3 year old holding his breath until he turns blue because Mommy won't give him a lollipop?

We won't "talk" with Iran. The Iranians shrug, say "fine, then we'll go talk to the Russians, the Indians, the Chinese...."

And we're supposed to somehow get MORE of a bargaining chip with Iran by this tactic? Hello? Has anyone in the White House read anything about history?

Sheesh.

For a simple diagrammatic explanation, see: Miracle McCain.

We had quite a good discussion of the subject over at Commissar. The main points opponents of diplomacy made were (1) negotiating with our adversaries convey legitimacy on them and (2) negotiations reward bad behavior so we should insist that the other side stop terrorism (Hamas) or nuclear research (Iran) or other unacceptable behavior before negotiations will proceed.

Hamas doesn't give up attacks on Israel, or recognize Israel, because that's the only leverage they have. Asking them to give those up before we sit down and talk to them is, essentially, telling them to give us what we want, and then we'll discuss what we are willing to let them have. That's not negotiation; that's a demand for unconditional surrender.

Yes, Hamas is evil. Yes, there are a lot of things we shouldn't give away to them in negotiations. Unless you are prepared to force them to surrender unconditionally, which we clearly are not, nor should we be, the stance of not negotiating until they renounce terrorism is simply saying that the problems won't ever be resolved.

The main points opponents of diplomacy made were (1) negotiating with our adversaries convey legitimacy on them and (2) negotiations reward bad behavior so we should insist that the other side stop terrorism (Hamas) or nuclear research (Iran) or other unacceptable behavior before negotiations will proceed.

These are fair points. I'm not sure if they are your points, or if you're just raising them rhetorically, but I'll make a reply anyway.

In what sense is Iran not legitimate?
How does our talking to them or not make them legitimate or not?

I guess I don't understand what "conveying legitimacy" means in the context of a long-established, coherent nation like Iran.

Toward your second point, what happens if your opponent says "screw you"? Where do you go from there?

And, are they entitled to make similar demands on us?

Can Iran say, "get out of Iraq or we're not talking"?

Can Hamas say "cut off all aid to Israel or we're not talking"?

Why is it our exclusive privilege to decide if a conversation will or will not happen?

I'm not asking these things to be difficult, I'd really like to know.

I think there's an "eyes on the prize" issue that folks who want to take a hard line against negotiation miss.

IMO the goal here is not to make some big point about who's the good guy and who's the bad guy. If there is one, people will figure that out. Or, you know, they won't. It really doesn't matter.

The goal is to achieve the best possible end state. Hopefully, we can all agree that that includes less violence, less terror, and less war.

If we can't all agree on that, maybe there's a different problem involved.

Thanks -

Step Two: One foreign leader looks the other foreign leader in the eye and gets a sense of his soul.

Step Two: One foreign leader looks the other foreign leader in the eye and steals his underpants!

Gary Farber is right. He was being polite about it, but really there is no transliteration question here. "Khameini" is a misspelling plain and simple. It's a very common misspelling, due to people getting the name confused with "Khomeini", but it's incorrect nevertheless.

DHS is wrong. Time magazine does not elect to use the spelling "Khameini". Yes, Time has made the error several times, but if DHS will expand his Google search a little by searching both spellings on the time.com domain, he'll see that the correct spelling is far more frequent.

If you look up both names on Wikipedia, you can see the Persian names spelled in Arabic script. You can also play sound clips of the names being pronounced. It is clearly a different spelling.

Accusing others of "uninformed pedantry" is never a good idea. It's particularly ill-advised when you are less informed than the person you are criticizing.

(2) is that by talking to them, you'll make them feel big and on equal with the US, give them a platform to grandstand on, and make them seem important.

mdl, my apologies. If you're insisting purely on a conventional Farsi-English transliteration, that may be a defensible critique.

Oh, snap. I *can* use search on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Persian
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_language#Orthography

As any informed, non-pedant surely realizes, there's rarely a single 'standardized' transliteration scheme, even between two closely related languages, even leaving aside the relatively modern fallacy (sophistry, obsession, etc) that there is such a thing as a 'standard spelling' to begin with.

But I suspect we're talking at cross-purposes here, so let's leave it at that. You're convinced the Proper Spelling of Names = not uninformed pedantry. I tend to think this proves my point. And that's sufficient axe-grinding pedantry on my part.

A long time ago Iran was a giant wolf.

Hardly anybody remembers this, but it was true. It roamed the Persian Gulf, gulfing, gulping, and wurfing, and rose in the night---dripping---to stalk the countries of the Middle East.

It was a terrible trouble in those days.

But the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) bound it with a great judgment so that it would lay flat on the ground and people could live on it; and he appointed the first Leader of Iran to stand on the head of the wolf in silence.

Subhan Allah wa Bihamdih!

The first leader was to stand on the head of the wolf in silence; and every other leader since. For that is the price that is paid to keep the wolf flat and arable and not walking around wurfing and gulping and gulfing and eating people or animals or those little fluffy puffs of nothing that sometimes float around in the air and are really hard to catch in your hands.

Do not talk to the Leader of Iran.

Do not speak to him! That is the condition of these blessings.

Speak to him but once---

Break his holy silence---

And the wolf will rise, and ravage, and its howls shall be heard throughout the world.

Then, for no reason whatsoever, everyone's arms will fall off and be replaced with wings.

Step 3: disaster.

(In case it is not clear why that is a problem it is because the infrastructure of modern industrialized society has a critical dependence on thumbs and people could not sustain it with just wings even if they flapped extremely hard.)

Jenna

Brilliant.

That is all.

Thanks -

oddly enough,

Step 2: Put your junk in the box

fits into hilzoy's Underpants Gnome scheme surprisingly well.

mdl and Gary are right: I misspelled Khamenei. I corrected it. Thanks.

And Jenna: ditto on the brilliant. ;)

"If someone could explain to me what step 2 looks like, I'd be very much obliged."

I prefer to remain anonymous, thanks. For the record, I am keeping my underpants.

"(1) Spelling in Latin alphabet of names from non-Latin-alphabet using languages really don't have much standardization."

Curiously, as a copyeditor, and professional book and magazine editor, for decades, I am aware of this. Or I would have been fired by everyone I ever worked for over the past thirty-six years, freelance or fulltime, inhouse, or not, which would make some 20+ publishing houses including, in no particular order, Random House, Penguin, Avon, Morrow, Arbor House, Baen, Bluejay, Ace, Tor, Bantam, Warner, Doubleday Book & Music Clubs, the Pacific Northwest Review of Books, Berkley, and another dozen or two equally little-known small presses. I probably wouldn't have been able to turn down being offered the Managing Editor position at Twilight Zone Magazine and Night Cry Magazine by Tappan King, if my bosses had found me incompetent and unaware of such elementary usage facts.

Similarly, at all the law firms I freelanced at. Legal document requirements are even more unforgiving than general mass market publishing standards. (Alas.)

Thus my wording: "Generally rendered, in English,"

Thanks for your input.

Of course you negotiate with enemies.

If you want to make peace you have to talk to your enemies. Talking to your friends won't get you there.

My night is made. A posting that contains a great South Park reference, and a comment that references the funniest SNL bit in the past decade or so. Is this a great blog or what?

LFC -- thanks, I'm glad the reference tickled you too. I'm revoltingly self-satisfied at having thought of it. :)

In high-school debate, that is called NucWar. Whatever your opponent says, you show through a series of logical contortions that their plan or not going with your plan will cause nuclear war.

1. Talk to Iran
2. ???
3. NucWar

Of course, in debate, you need some bizarre step 2.

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