The U.S. mainstream media has a rather strange understanding of what “diplomacy” in international relations means. Under the headline “Obama Signals a Shift From Military Might to Diplomacy”, Mark Landler in the New York Times offers two problematic examples that are somehow supposed to support this thesis: Iran and Syria. The article begins:
The weekend ended with the first tangible sign of a nuclear deal with Iran, after more than three decades of hostility. Then on Monday came the announcement that a conference will convene in January to try to broker an end to the civil war in Syria.
The assertion is that
the two nearly simultaneous developments were vivid statements that diplomacy, the venerable but often-unsatisfying art of compromise, has once again become the centerpiece of American foreign policy.
The Times hails that
For Mr. Obama, the shift to diplomacy fulfills a campaign pledge from 2008 that he would stretch out a hand to America’s enemies and speak to any foreign leader without preconditions….
“We’re testing diplomacy; we’re not resorting immediately to military conflict,” Mr. Obama said, defending the Iran deal on Monday in San Francisco. “Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically,” he said earlier that day, “but it’s not the right thing for our security.”
So “diplomacy” in the case of Iran is newspeak for collectively punishing the civilian population, threatening to bomb the country’s nuclear facilities in order to coerce its government to surrender to the U.S.’s demands, and engaging in talks only to be able to say it tried negotiations in order to garner support for escalating the punishment of the Iranian people. The Times moves on:
In the case of Syria, it was a Russian proposal for President Bashar al-Assad to turn over and destroy his chemical weapons stockpiles, an option the White House seized on as a way of averting a military strike that Mr. Obama first threatened and then backed off from.
So “diplomacy” in the case of Syria is newspeak for threatening to bomb the country, an outcome averted in this case by Putin’s proposal that Assad declare its chemical weapons and render them for destruction by the international community, which Assad immediately did. This in turn was “seized on” by the Obama administration “as a way of averting a military strike” not in the sense that they didn’t want to bomb Syria, but only in the sense that they couldn’t get support for such action from the usual accomplices like the U.K., which would increase the risk of the international community seeking to hold Obama accountable for war crimes if he proceeded with his threat.
The Times then adds this doozy:
Mr. Obama has called for Mr. Assad to give up power. But his diplomatic efforts on Syria have done little to bring that about…
So “diplomatic efforts” is newspeak for having a policy of prolonging the violence by supporting the armed rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad government, including by arming them, with most of the arms funneled by the CIA to the rebels last year falling in the hands of the Islamic extremists.
The Times isn’t done there with its Orwellian reporting. It adds:
It is harder for a president to rally the American public behind a multilateral negotiation than a missile strike, though the deep war weariness of Americans has reinforced Mr. Obama’s instinct for negotiated settlements over unilateral action.
As Moon of Alabama appropriately responds,
It is not, as [Mark] Lander claims, that the public wants missile strikes and is against diplomacy. It is Obama who wanted the missile strikes on Syria and it was public opinion that pressed Congress and him not to launch such strikes. It was Russian, not Obama’s, diplomacy that gave him a way out from the missile strikes he had planned. It is likewise the public that presses for negotiations with Iran and that would not support any new war against it.
So much for Landler’s propaganda narrative of Obama’s “shift” to “diplomacy”.