Foreign Politics?

A quick post today on Iran and North Korea and notions of an “appropriate response”.

The usual lineup of critics on both sides of our artificial political fence have been taking shots at President Obama for his handling of flash points in Iran and North Korea, and to a lesser extent, China. The left wants strong condemnation, appeals to the U.N., sanctions, and support for various human rights groups; the right wants tough talk and an aggressive, military first posture.

The rational middle hopes (and at least for now, believes) that the President has a plan. A plan, of course, is the key. Rational, meticulously constructed tactics in support of a clearly defined strategy that forms our foreign policy. In other words, the antithesis to the foreign politics that is so often practised by our policy-makers.

The first, visceral reaction is not typically the best move in a relationship; be it business or politics. The chess players of the world are well acquainted with the need to look many moves into the future, and foreign policy is no different. You want to condemn China and restrict trade because of Tibet? Fine, list all of the consequences of that action and analyze the net benefit. Think it would be a good idea to shoot down a North Korean missile test? OK, what do we gain if we hit it, and what do we lose if we miss? How much free strategic insight is lost because we haven’t carefully watched and recorded the bird’s flight profile from beginning to end? Interested in Iranian democracy, and think our President is soft? What is the endgame? Limited military engagement? Full-scale war? Economic sanctions?

The above are all reasonable response scenarios to international crisis. The question asked is, are the right follow-up questions being worked, or is all of the bluster just political posturing?

The rational middle wants to know what you think….