June 9, 2009
This past week, President Obama gave a speech in Cairo, speaking to the world and most specifically to the Muslim world. I believe he was successful in accomplishing what his goal was: to show respect to the Muslim nations and religion, and, ultimately, weaken the terrorist movements. If you look at it from the perspective of a “diplomatic war,” he launched a major offensive and succeeded.
Obama’s opponents say that it didn’t accomplish anything, that it’s all words and no action. That when you compare Obama to Bush, “Bush at least freed the Iraqi people.”
Well comments like that go to show us the lack of subtlety of these opponents. They don’t understand the power of “diplomatic warfare.”
For them, warfare is based on bombs, guns and the murder, or overthrowing of a leader or government. Let’s take a look at the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003. What was the goal? To weaken the terrorists. The Bush administration convinced us that Saddam Hussein was supporting terrorists and it was our obligation to overthrow the Iraqi leader’s regime. Many people and nations believed the lies they told and we took action. We used old-fashioned warfare to obtain our goal: weaken the terrorists.
Yes, we did “free” the Iraqi people from their leader. But at the cost of breaking many international laws, creating more hate of the US and the west amongst the Muslim communities, thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. And really, when you think about it, we didn’t even achieve our goal. We didn’t weaken the terrorists, we only strengthened their resolve to destroy even more. These are the ways and tactics of short-term thinking and old-fashioned warfare. It’s about breaking down the enemy at all costs, overtaking land, and no respect for those who think differently. It fosters more separation and hate, resulting in an unending cycle of destruction. You may win the battle, but the long-term consequences are frightening.
Now let’s take a look at diplomatic warfare. This type of tactic focus on the building of relationship, of acknowledging and respecting differences. The missions, or offensives, are mostly through words! So you may not see immediate results like you would when you bomb a palace and capture a leader, but you can see steady progress towards lasting peace, cooperation and mutual respect. Leading to the protection of land and resources and life.
Obama’s main strategy was very clever. If he can show those in the Muslim world respect, that he has taken the time to learn about their customs, that he doesn’t see them as his enemy and welcomes more dialogue and cooperation, then it will be more difficult for them to hate the US and its allies. It’s hard to hate someone who wants to understand you. Terrorism can only survive on hate. If there is less hate, then individuals might be more reluctant to support terrorists. This, in turn, will weaken the power the terrorists have on others and on the impact they are currently having on the world.
So, from the perspective of diplomatic warfare, you could say that Obama’s speech was perhaps just as aggressive as the illegal invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies. And this time, this offensive succeeded! Without a single death, without spending trillions of dollars and without creating deeper chasms between the US and the rest of the world. Just take a look what is happening in Lebanon and Iraq at this very moment.
The nation should be out in the streets celebrating. There should be parades!