Political Animal

NEGOTIATION OR APPEASEMENT?….OR IS THERE

NEGOTIATION OR APPEASEMENT?….OR IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?….Josh Marshall wrote a piece yesterday that’s gotten a bunch of blogospheric attention:

This entire crisis [in North Korea] — and it’s foolish to pretend it’s not a crisis — is an administration screw-up of mammoth proportions. The administration is trying to portray this as just another crisis that happened on their watch. But that woefully understates its own responsibility for the situation we’re now in.

I think he’s right. Every administration comes into office claiming that the previous administration had a terrible foreign policy: there was no overarching vision, they merely reacted to events as they happened, and the end result was a huge mess.

But as Harold Macmillan famously pointed out, the greatest challenge of any administration is “events, dear boy, events,” and smart politicians leave themselves as much room as they can to respond when events overtake them. Bush’s needless tough talking for the past two years has done just the opposite, narrowing his options to the point that he has almost none left.

So now we’re left in the worst possible situation. We can’t negotiate with North Korea because Bush has repeatedly stated that he wouldn’t do it. Military action has no support either. So what’s left? We’ll “privately” negotiate with the Koreans through third parties, which provides the maximum possible scope for misinterpretation and error, all the time pretending that we’re doing no such thing. This is just dumb.

I wish all the “tough minded realists” out there could get one thing through their heads: negotiation is not appeasement. It’s just negotiation. It’s only appeasement if you negotiate badly and cave in on things you shouldn’t.

So let’s get ourselves back to the table and start negotiating. After all, what other options are there?

ANALOGIES….Atrios makes the following observation

ANALOGIES….Atrios makes the following observation today:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about arguing with conservative assholes – never use analogies. never use comparisons.

Well, I don’t know for sure if this is something that’s unique to conservatives ? or to assholes ? but it definitely rings true. I’ve noticed that whenever I write something using an analogy, I get a bunch of mail arguing that the analogy isn’t perfect and that therefore my entire argument fails.

Note to the world: analogies are never perfect, they’re just meant to be, well, analogies. If used well, they can help you understand an argument better, but it’s the argument itself you should pay attention to.