Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Doesn't Anyone In The West Read Sun Tzu?

Omar Fadhil of Iraq the Model writing for Pajamas Media notes a recent pattern of events:
The first development was the awkward prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah. Then there were the unprecedented decisions by the American administration to take part directly in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and reportedly to resume some level of diplomatic ties with the country. Finally, we had the White House agreeing to set a “time horizon” for troop withdrawal from Iraq.
While those who applaud the first development are terrorists themselves, there are those who see the second two as a step in the right direction, and in the last case an example of the Bush administration coming around to Obama's way of thinking.

Fadhil raises the issue whether in fact the Middle East sees the gentle art of negotiation as just that--gentle, and weak:

What I want to say here is that the Middle East has a different understanding of diplomacy than the West. Acceptance of demands or opening up to dialogue can very well be mistaken for weakness. On one hand, it will frighten America’s allies and those sitting on the fence. On the other hand, it will embolden Iran and will most likely lead to further more ambitious demands.

Dialogue and giving diplomacy a chance is not a bad idea, but understanding the mentality of the people sitting across the table is an important prerequisite.

Just how well does the US understand the Middle East mentality? Israel itself is more westernized and the Ashkenazim would tend to see the issue from the same perspective. It would be interesting to get a consensus of how Sephardic Jews in Israel feel about this.

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