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Not worth the paper they're printed on

By Murray Soupcoff
web posted January 13, 2003

It's inevitable like death and taxes. Should some murderous tyrant or other appear on the world scene and flaunt his dirty deeds in front of the international community, then the "negotiate an agreement" crowd crawls out from under the rocks to denounce any talk of using military force to reign in the aggressor.

You know all the mindless slogans by now: "Give peace a chance," "Negotiations not war," "Diplomacy not threats," "Peace in our time," "I never had sex with that woman!" Well, maybe not the latter. But speaking of America's orally-fixated ex-president, the Clinton presidency unadmirably demonstrates all the wishful thinking, procrastination and irresponsibility involved in depending on diplomats to "negotiate" the pages and pages of high-fallutin' hot air called "international agreements" these days, as well as the dire consequences of such foreign-policy sophistry.

This reflexive "negotiate an agreement" sensibility is just another bi-product of today's liberal mind set, shaped and formed by the experience of coming up with last-minute settlements in labor negotiations, engaging in legal horse trading in plea bargaining for guilty criminals, and negotiating "non-partisan" political compromises (translated sellouts) in today's legislatures.

The problem is that what works in a democratic domestic context may not work quite so well in the pursuit of international peace. Reigning in ruthless rogue states requires anything but the endless bargaining, compromise and sellout of principles that works so well in negotiating with labor unions to buy "labor peace," in hammering out plea bargains to clear the courts of expensive trials, and in forging political "compromises" to pander to special interest groups.

Negotiating... and negotiating... and then negotiating even more, to generate agreements filled with lofty language, obfuscating legal terms and hidden "incentives," may be appropriate for settling a truckers' strike. Allowing the latest billionaire business felon caught with his hand in the cookie jar to cop a plea may allow the courts to run more efficiently. And political compromise may help the trains run on time, as well as insure re-election. But it simply will not suffice when the safety of entire civilian populations is at stake, when the basic principles that underlie our way of life are under attack, or when the forces of evil threaten to rum amok.

Which brings us back to the bungling Clinton administration where talk, talk, talk -- and meaningless written words (and then more written words) in the form of accords, frameworks and treaties -- was the solution for every international crisis (unless the president was under threat of impeachment, in which case a quick missile attack on a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan might be justified to deflect public attention away from presidential misdeeds).

So under the inept foreign-policy reign of Bill Clinton, we had the much-ballyhooed negotiated agreements for "peace" in the Middle East, Northern Ireland and the Korean peninsula. And of course, as we know now, all these negotiated settlements totally unravelled, along with a lot of Nobel Peace Prize-winning diplomatic sleight of hand.

Everyone knows what happened to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. To see the latest results, you just have to check the news pages of your morning newspaper to read about the latest Palestinian terrorist bombing in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, or the latest incursion of the Israeli army into Jenin or Amallah.

And what about the Clinton-inspired settlement of long-standing grievances between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland? Sorry, bad news there too. Britain has again been forced to suspend the local Northern Ireland assembly in which Protestants and Catholics agreed to share power as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement brokered by Bill Clinton's slippery special envoy, George Mitchell.

One of the conditions of the Mitchell-brokered power-sharing agreement was that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) would disarm and end its terroristic ways. And what a shocking surprise. Despite signing onto the agreement, the IRA has still not turned over its weapons. It has continued to support the international terror industry by training Colombia's FARC guerrillas. And now comes more recent news that police raids have uncovered evidence that leaders of Sinn Fein, the political face of the IRA, stole top-secret British intelligence documents and continued to be involved in the planning of terrorist acts.

The final coup de gras to the Clinton legacy of negotiated peace? North Korea not only has admitted that it blatantly violated its "Agreed Framework" with the Clinton administration to dismantle its nuclear-weapons program (an negotiated agreement which rewarded the North Koreans with billions of dollars in American aid and U.S. assistance in building two non-weapon nuclear reactors for generating electrical power for North Korea's crumbling infrastructure). Leader-for-Life Kim Jong Il is now using the illicit fruits of breaking this accord to shamelessy blackmail North Korea's immediate neighbour and the world for more booty.

According to the recent shameless admission by the North Koreans, they took the money and built weapons of mass destruction anyway. So the world better ante up with even more blackmail money, or else! So much for the healing power of international jaw-jawing.

The bottom line? Bill Clinton obsequiously deferred to the vociferous "negotiate a treaty" crowd and indeed gave peace a chance. And now we're a lot closer to war in the Middle East, sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, a nuclear conflagration in the Korean peninsula, and -- the bonus prize! -- decimation of Hawaii and Alaska by nuclear-tipped long-range missiles launched from Pyongyang.

So much for the lofty "peace in our time" diplomatic rhertoric of weak-kneed internationalists such as Bill Clinton (and Jimmy Carter). So much for the healing powers of engagement, negotiation and international diplomacy.

Thanks to such futile "peacemaking" efforts, the world is simply a more dangerous place.

Murray Soupcoff is a retired Toronto sociologist who is the author of 'Canada 1984' and a former radio and television producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also was Executive Editor of We Compute Magazine for many years, and is now the Managing Editor of the popular conservative Web site, The Iconoclast.

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