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Obama and Clinton’s choice: humility or humiliation?

May 22, 2010

The following was written recently by Paul Woodward on his War in Context blog:

This week the Obama administration made what may come to be seen as a blunder of historic proportions. At a moment when tactical agility was a must, it stayed on course because it lacked the diplomatic finesse to show or perhaps even recognize the difference between being resolute and being inflexible.

The sanctions juggernaut plowed into the Iran diplomatic initiative masterminded by Brazil and Turkey and on the basis that these are “lesser” powers, Washington imagined its own agenda must be unstoppable. Or at least the administration felt compelled to bow in obedience to a fear that shackles every Democratic leader: the fear that flexibility will be seen as a sign of weakness.

Common sense and prudence made it clear that the smart way of responding to the new opening from Iran would have been with a cautious opening in return. Instead, Iran, Turkey and Brazil got the door slammed in their face. The calculation in Washington, no doubt, was that Iran, in its usual tempestuous style would swiftly reject the swap deal in the face of the continued threat of sanctions, and the diplomatic upstarts, Lula and Erdogan, would defer to the old world order.

Instead, it seems that Iran remains intent on seizing the initiative, will stick to the deal it signed and thereby demonstrate to the world that in the long-running nuclear dispute it is the United States that is now the intransigent party.

Visit War in Context to view the relevant links that Woodward, as always, provides.

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