#779 – Dick Bernard: The not-so-simple art of international diplomacy (and other similar things)

A short while ago I was looking for the oldest e-mail I had from a recently deceased friend who was anti-war to the very core of his being. It turned out to be a Nov. 10, 2005, e-mail asserting “26 lies by Bush people” about the Iraq War during the George W. Bush administration. If you’re interested, here are the 26: Bob Heberle Nov 10 2005001
About the same time (Sep. 12) came an e-mail to a group from another anti-war friend about the tense Syrian situation: “what is the true reason for [the U.S. planning on] invading Syria or lying to the American people? Regardless of the reason for lying would that not constitute reason of impeachment if not for lying then for war mongering?” Of course, this related to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Then, just a day or two ago, President Obama spoke at the U.N., and his counterpart President, Rouhani of Iran, spoke at the same venue. But they didn’t meet.
And yesterday came another e-mail listing President Obama’s top 45 lies in his speech at the U.N. Apparently Obama is the champeen liar, and the folks listening to him at the United Nations are easily duped.
All the above assertions come from what most would describe as the Left. Of course, the Right is no stranger to assertions of Liar as well…but these were Lefties talking.
So, rush to judgement on the President? Not so fast.
What’s one to do about all this lyin’? Or is it lying at all?
Who has ever said “my, you look nice today”, when you know he or she doesn’t….
Introduce me to someone who says they don’t lie, and I’ll show you a liar. Of course, this includes me. We all fudge.
During the “26 lies” and “lying…for war mongering” time a couple of weeks ago I got to thinking about the reality of bargaining about anything…and bargaining at the global level is bargaining big-time. I spent a career in bargaining situations. They’re all about the same…the sides feel each other out for interminable periods. Through it all they bob and weave, deception is expected. Like bargaining in a market somewhere.
Bargaining is a complex process.
Starting with the most recent near meeting at the UN between Rouhani and Obama, there was comment about how the two avoided meeting in person. There was no hand-shake, even.
Charley Rose asked President Rouhani about this in an interview which played in part on CBS This Morning today. Essentially, Rouhani said that things like a Presidential hand-shake take time: Iran and the U.S. have had no direct relationship for 35 years, he said, going back to the end of the Shah of Iran and the subsequent hostage situation. He could have gone back further, to 1953 and mentioned the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian President Mossadegh engineered by the CIA. He didn’t go there.
But everyone at the international diplomacy level, you can bet, understood exactly what he was saying. Stuff like hand-shakes and photo ops and joint statements take time. In due time they will take place. Most of the action now is behind the scenes, between diplomats who know the game…and each other.
Things happen fast. As I was writing this, in came an announcement that Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart from Iran will be meeting further on what seems to be another whirlwind and positive development on the middle east situation. First such meeting since 1980, it was said. No cigar, yet, but things are looking a little promising within the international community, and now not only about Syria, but about Iran, too.
And about those “lies” Obama supposedly told in his speech at the UN: With hardly any doubt, everybody in the room knew the context and intent of those remarks, which were most public and part of the international record so long as there are records available.
History will be the judge of what or whether these “lies” were.
And in the lurching way that such things work, perhaps we are witnessing some positive history for a change.
In my opinion, very important global changing actions are taking place at the international level, and the Obama administration is a very important part of that, as are other world government leaders.
None of them are naive, and they are dealing with each other as diplomats need to deal: cautiously, perhaps deviously, above all respectfully, all the while trying to satisfy the rabble out there that is the population of all of their countries.
I see hope more than I see “lies”.
Just my opinion.
Comment
from Wilhelm R, Sep 27, 2013

Your “opinion” seems to be based on a set of assumptions which you do not state or have to state. You let your reader assume them. Could it be that today assumptions are personal and discretionary but not binding on anybody else. It used to be, that assumptions where the foundation on which societies and cultures where built upon and acted as “touch stones” for debate and discussion. Without them we are back in the depth of scholastics which pried itself to be able to take any position and successfully and logically argue its point. In such an environment nothing can get done and nothing can be resolved, everything is relative. In such an environment one does not even have to touch on the essential point a discussion partner raises but instead, all one has to do is to change the assumptions and begin the – an – argument anew. This also seems to lead to a situation where there is no need for taking responsibility for one’s own actions or demand responsibility from anybody else for their actions. May be this explains today’s tendency to urge us to “look forward” and not waste time with looking backwards what has been done has been done… This makes of course perfect sense since one has to assume that those actions were based on different assumptions and those assumptions where and probably still are as good as anybody else’s. They just seem to be lurking around to be picked up by a willing mind. With this however anything goes and justice is what power dictates or allows you to project. ( We seem to be back in the golden age Metamorphosis by Ovid writes about “Aurea prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo ….. The age of the golden rule where the gold rules) So what are we crying about. It behooves us – whoever us might be – to obtain and exercise power! … Just my thoughts but willing to not just state but defend them any time …..
from Dick: I like your first two sentences. I have noticed for a long time that hard and fast ‘sides’ develop where only one point of view is entertained, thus no argument, or even listening to another point of view. I’m not sure who reads my columns, here. It is more than a couple, that’s for certain. I try to keep the posts to newspaper column length (ca <700 words), and I write them as if family will read them, many of whom would be in direct opposition to me, ideologically. Re lying, as one who grew up and still is Catholic, the Nuns did a good job on the Lying piece to we younguns. As I recall it, there were two general types of lies: of omission (leaving out some important data); and commission (a whopper). Of course, as one ages and sees communication in action on many fronts, you say infinite variations on those two general themes, but those were two words I remember, for some reason! from NYTimes Bulletin, Sep 27 3:01 CST:
Obama Says He Spoke to Iran’s President by Phone
President Obama said Friday he had spoken by phone with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, the first direct contact between the leaders of Iran and United States since 1979. Mr. Obama, speaking in the White House briefing room, said the two leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear program and said he was persuaded there was a basis for an agreement.

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