Friday, September 14, 2007

On the cusp?

I hate it when analogies to past history have some degree of merit. Like with, say, 1914:

The U.S. and Iran face a situation not too different from the one European powers found themselves in right before the outbreak of World War I. Robust diplomacy has been all but discarded, just as it had been in 1914. Strategists subscribed to the view that the initiator of a conflict would be at such an advantage due to modern technology that mere mobilization should be considered an act of war. Historians have argued that this strategic outlook created an inherent mechanism for self-escalation toward armed conflict. By adhering to these doctrines, decision makers simply abdicated foreign policy to military strategy. Today, the U.S. has put the idea of pre-emption at the center of its National Security Directive to guide both its military decisions and its statecraft.

Add an already poisonous political atmosphere hovering over the two countries, and the dangers of accidentally slipping into war are palpable. But whereas the simplest mistake—or even inaction—can spark a conflict, diplomacy can only be achieved if deliberately and persistently pursued. Sadly, in spite of much rhetoric to the contrary, real diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran has not even been attempted yet.
I wonder if we're going to get our ass handed to us on a platter, like much of Europe did back then. And by "we're," I don't mean Americans. I mean, practically, everyone. The stakes are potentially that high.

Also see related comments by Gareth Porter.