Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Schoolyard Bully

A Schoolyard Bully
The Providence Journal
Oct 13, 2005, 03:27
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Imagine we're back in October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, in the thick of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The world's survival is at stake, threatened by the real possibility of nuclear war between the two superpowers, neither one prepared to concede an inch.

Then imagine this scene: The terribly tense Security Council debate is under way between the Soviet and U.S. representatives to the United Nations. Suddenly, just after Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin begins to speak, his American counterpart, Adlai Stevenson, rises and walks out of the room, leaving two note takers behind. Imagine further that the pretext for the walkout is Zorin's supposedly "terrorist" youth and the Soviet refusal to allow foreign inspectors into its nuclear facilities.

No doubt you would find such undiplomatic behavior at best shortsighted _ at worst, puerile, provocative and dangerous. No doubt even some of the most anti-communist journalists would criticize American arrogance and immaturity.

So I found myself shocked by the lack of public comment last month following America's de-facto boycott of two provocative U.N. speeches by the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Of course, no two historical events are perfectly analogous, but if we take seriously the Bush administration's warnings about "extremist" Iran and its nuclear-development program, then we can certainly draw a comparison. President Bush would have us believe that Iran poses an extraordinary danger to the world _ different, to be sure, from the one posed by Moscow in the 1960s, but grave nevertheless. Why snub the new Persian president at the very moment when negotiation appears urgently necessary?....