U.S. pipe dreams of a democratic Palestine and a peaceful Iranian Islamic Republic
October 22, 2021
The president recently announced that the United States will shift American foreign policy strategy from military intervention to “relentless diplomacy.” Translated into the jargon of the foreign policy establishment, this means a downgrading of “hard power” capability to an emphasis on “soft power” persuasion in negotiations
By announcing this general diplomatic strategy beforehand however, the president has weakened both the hard power and the soft power impacts to our foreign policy strategy.
Without question, diplomacy is the preferred path to solving international problems and conflicts. But in order for diplomacy to be effective in asserting our national interests, in preserving the established world order, and in compelling cooperation to avoid global catastrophes such as climate change, the U.S. must maintain superior military power and the will to use it as the most effective way to assure the success of relentless diplomacy leading to peaceful outcomes.
The history of past “relentless diplomatic” efforts by the U.S. or its allies with certain adversaries have led to diplomatic failures and catastrophic consequences.
The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, faced with overwhelming military supremacy of their common adversary, engaged in failed relentless diplomacy with Nazi Germany to avoid respectively the conquest of Europe and the invasion of the Soviet Union. We know how that turned out.
The U.S. engaged in relentless diplomacy from a position of inferior military power with Imperial Japan who had built the Pacific’s greatest military machine, and was engaged in negotiations up to the very hour of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, the sleeping American giant, awakened by an attack on its territory, mobilized it ingenuity, industry and its industrious united citizens to build and assemble the greatest military force in history which almost four years later led to the unconditional surrender of both Germany and Japan.
Relentless diplomacy under then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger failed us in Vietnam as we disorderly retreated in defeat from Saigon, and similarly, most recently from Kabul as a primitive-thinking group of Afghanistan Islamic terrorists, the Taliban, returned to power.
Common sense leads us to a high probability that our national interests in future bilateral or multinational negotiations may not be respected or achieved by relying on our advertised relentless diplomacy and our reluctance to back it up with hard power.
President Biden’s attempts to reengage respectively with the Palestinians and the Iranians employing a strategy of relentless diplomacy (with its attendant hint of reluctance to use hard power) to achieve, in both instances, unrealistic goals is setting the U.S. up for another one or maybe two diplomatic failures which will not achieve the desired diplomatic objectives.
The concept of a two-state solution which has not been achieved in seven decades of on-again, off-again diplomatic efforts will not miraculously be achieved with relentless diplomacy when the diplomacy itself is flawed: Hamas’ dictatorial rule in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority’s dictatorial rule in areas allotted to it in the Oslo Accords demonstrate that the Palestinians are incapable of being a sovereign political entity living peacefully beside Israel, no less in a democratic society respecting human rights and freedom. The State of Israel exists. It is a “fait accompli.” Any attempt to delegitimize it is incompatible with whether a Palestinian state of any kind is established. Calling the negotiations a path to a two-state solution is itself flawed.
Relentless diplomacy (with its attendant hint of reluctance to use hard power) to have Iran denounce and disassemble its already advanced nuclear weapons program is doomed to failure. You don’t need to be a diplomatic genius to understand that Iran will negotiate or hold out the possibility of negotiation to hopeful U.S. diplomats for as long as it needs to complete and obtain its nuclear weapons and the delivery systems to threaten Israel and its Arab neighbors.
The end game for the Palestinians and the Iranians is the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of its Jewish population. Relentless diplomacy will continue to give each of them irrational hope that their mutual objective can be achieved. The U.S. needs to change the game and end these pipe dreams of a democratic Palestine and a peaceful Iran and recognize the reality of the real and stated intentions of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority as well as the Iranian Islamic Republic.
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Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.