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'Coercive Diplomacy' and the Failure of the Nuclear Negotiations

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After more than a year of negotiations between the United States and Iran, the two sides have failed to reach an agreement by the agreed deadline in July.  They have agreed to continue negotiating, but the failure to meet the deadline was clearly not caused by the lack of time. 

To understand why the talks have remained deadlocked, it is necessary to review the Obama administration’s stance on diplomacy with Iran in the context of the long US history of favouring “coercive diplomacy” over traditional negotiations in managing conflicts with adversaries.

Reliance on coercive diplomacy is deeply imbedded in the strategic culture of US national security institutions. It has evolved over decades of US military and economic dominance in international politics, which has allowed the United States to avoid genuine diplomacy repeatedly.

Based on that military supremacy, the United States avoided negotiations with its communist adversaries up to the early 1970s, when Henry Kissinger courted China and launched his détente policy with the Soviet Union. But that brief period of serious negotiating came in the wake of political pressures for reducing US military spending and foreign military presence during the long and exhausting US war in Vietnam.  It soon gave way to renewed reliance on coercive diplomacy during the Reagan administration.
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Reform the CIA? What Good Would That Do?

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After all, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, these two agencies operate in secret. Moreover, they know that they can do anything they want, including breaking the law, and that nothing will ever happen to them.

Suppose, for example, that Congress were to enact a law that prohibits the NSA from monitoring everyone’s email. Let’s assume that the NSA decides that monitoring people’s email is necessary for national security. Does anyone really think that the NSA is going to fail to protect national security, even if that means violating the law? In the minds of NSA officials, that’s their job — to protect national security, including when Congress takes actions that jeopardize national security.

It’s no different with the CIA. It’s going to do whatever is necessary to protect national security, even if that means breaking the law.

In the minds of NSA officials and CIA officials, national security is everything. Their attitude is: What good are the laws if the nation goes down? Their adage is: The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Let’s assume that the NSA and the CIA violate duly enacted laws that reform these two agencies. What will happen to the officials who knowingly break the laws?


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Defeat of USA FREEDOM Act is a Victory for Freedom

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It will not shock readers to hear that quite often legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, they tend give it a fine-sounding name. The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before 9/11 but was going nowhere. Then the 9/11 attacks gave it a new lease on life. Politicians exploited the surge in patriotism following the attack to reintroduce the bill and call it the PATRIOT Act. To oppose it at that time was, by design, to seem unpatriotic.
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The United States Lost the Cold War

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As the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, Americans remain more convinced than ever that the United States won the Cold War.

The Cold War brought us a national-security state, which consists of an enormous military establishment, a vast military-industrial complex, an empire of foreign and domestic military bases, ever-growing military budgets, and the ever-increasing militarization of American society.

In his Farewell Address in 1960, President Eisenhower pointed out that type of governmental system was alien to the American way of life. By that he meant that the national-security state was no part of America’s governmental system when the Constitution called the federal government into existence and for the next 160 years. It was called into existence for the sole purpose of waging the Cold War against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union.

Several days ago, the New York Times made a startling admission. Quoting a former high U.S. official, the Times pointed out that the communist regime in North Korea is also a national-security state.
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