Use [the] force

Saw this in a Robert Scheer column printed in today’s San Francisco Chronicle: The force Bush won’t use on Iran.

So, tangled history aside, what should the U.S. do now about a repressive and potentially threatening government in Iran? The one thing Bush strangely has refused to do throughout the world: practice the principles of capitalism.

The model for such a policy, which emphasizes normal trade relations even with regimes that have religious and political obsessions different from our own, was most successfully employed by Richard Nixon in his famous opening to “Red” China, as well as in the detente period that should properly be credited with the ultimate fall of the Soviet empire.

The most powerful liberalizing forces the U.S. wields are not military, but economic and cultural. Though not as macho as trying to spread democracy through the barrel of a gun, normalization offers a better prospect of accomplishing that end, while saving billions of dollars and priceless lives.

I’m pleased to read Scheer get it Wright.

2 Responses

  1. […] Fareed Zakaria in How To Change Ugly Regimes and Leon Hardar in Trading, Not Invading: US Hums Different Tune on Vietnam understand what Robert Scheer and Robert Wright understand, that which apologists for the invasion of Iraq and some of its anti-market opponents do not understand. Zakaria: I realize that it feels morally righteous and satisfying to “do something” about cruel regimes. But in doing what we so often do, we cut these countries off from the most powerful agents of change in the modern world—commerce, contact, information. To change a regime, short of waging war, you have to shift the balance of power between the state and society. Society needs to be empowered. It is civil society—private business, media, civic associations, nongovernmental organizations—that can create an atmosphere which forces change in a country. But by piling on sanctions and ensuring that a country is isolated, Washington only ensures that the state becomes ever more powerful and society remains weak and dysfunctional. In addition, the government benefits from nationalist sentiment as it stands up to the global superpower. Think of Iraq before the war, which is a rare case where multilateral sanctions were enforced. As we are discovering now, the sanctions destroyed Iraq’s middle class, its private sector and its independent institutions, but they allowed Saddam to keep control. […]

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