Terrorism and Diplomacy

TERRORISM AND DIPLOMACY….Sebastian Mallaby praises India and criticizes Israel for their recent responses to terrorist attacks. Here’s his take on Israel:

Almost everybody understands that failed states are good for terrorists. With their bitter experience of the Palestinian territories and the Lebanon of old, Israelis ought to grasp that better than anyone. But their leaders seem determined to re-create a failed state to their north. They complain that the Lebanese government has failed to rein in Hezbollah terrorists, then destroy the infrastructure that provides that same Lebanese government with its only chance of functioning.

….Israel’s iron-fist approach is partly a poor bet: a gamble that bombing will smash the terrorists’ structures, even though they are more likely in practice to smash civilian ones, radicalizing the Arab world and undermining the moderates who seek peace with modernity. But to be fair to Israel, its military offensive also reflects the absence of a viable diplomatic option. There already is a U.N. resolution calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed, but the big powers show no interest in applying the muscle to make disarmament happen.

He then goes on to criticize Russia, China, and Western Europe more generally: “These powers are happy to criticize unilateralism and belligerence at every turn. But when there’s a chance to make diplomacy work, they call for U.S. leadership and hide behind the curtains.”

Some of Mallaby’s criticism strikes me as silly. Does anyone really think that if France had taken Iraqi sanctions more seriously in the 90s that George Bush wouldn’t have invaded Iraq in 2003? Please. And on the multilateral diplomacy front, the United States surely bears a considerable part of the blame for the recent debasement of international institutions as vehicles for collective action.

And yet….Mallaby still has a point, doesn’t he? Read the whole thing and tell me what you think.