Apparently, we’ve achieved success in handling Iran
Things did get better, and [Condoleezza] Rice cooperated with European powers on several diplomatic projects. The Bush administration counts the evolution of Kosovo into an independent nation as one success story, and cooperation with European powers on Iran another. Rice dropped the Bush administration’s previous bans on negotiations with Iran in hopes of coaxing the regime to back down on its nuclear program. That hasn’t worked, but Rice got points with formerly quarrelsome allies for trying.
At the State Department, success isn’t measured by ends, but means. Because the ends are never positive. The point is to fail with grace, humility, and in the convivial company of other failures around the globe. The memoirs of lifetime negotiators are full of false soul searching passages about their best efforts not being good enough to sway their stubborn intimates. Instead of staying up 8 nights in a row with a map in front of Yassir Arafat’s face, they should have stayed up 9, darn it! Working at state is all about earning that self-important chapter in your best-seller. Keep in mind, North Korea is hiding nuclear fuel, Gaza leadership exists for the sole purpose of destroying Israel, Iran is well on its way to attaining nuclear weapons and Condoleezza Rice is currently taking a global victory lap.
And if the State Department considers Iran a success, just imagine what they really think about the Israel-Palestinian question. The truth is, the Middle East peace process–the holy grail of American diplomacy–is no longer even intended to achieve peace. It’s a PR stunt with an acceptable price tag, a loss leader designed to showcase American cooperation and understanding. If you fly to the Levant enough times with enough heads of state, you get to bank more of those “points with formerly quarrelsome allies for trying.”
From the same piece:
Rice has more goodbyes Tuesday in Brussels, where she sees NATO allies. The United States has a long-standing beef with some NATO nations over reluctance to send large numbers of fighting forces to Afghanistan, but the dispute has been cordial. The same is true for an emerging difference over engagement with Russia following last summer’s war with Georgia.
Keeping disputes cordial–kind of what Barack Obama is doing by making his adversary Secretary of State.