i watched richard holbrooke and william kristol debating US diplomacy last night on charlie rose. holbrooke argues that we need to engage in diplomacy with nations like iran and syria immediately. i’m not sure exactly what kristol was advocating other than a general “diplomacy is pointless” attitude. it looks like, based on a quick scan of my feeds, like the “guns of august” meme is spreading. holbrooke’s analysis of the situation in the middle east is a must read.
This combination of combustible elements poses the greatest threat to global stability since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, history’s only nuclear superpower confrontation. The Cuba crisis, although immensely dangerous, was comparatively simple: It came down to two leaders and no war. In 13 days of brilliant diplomacy, John F. Kennedy induced Nikita Khrushchev to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba.
Kennedy was deeply influenced by Barbara Tuchman’s classic, The Guns of August, which recounted how a seemingly isolated event 92 summers ago — an assassination in Sarajevo by a Serb terrorist — set off a chain reaction that led in just a few weeks to World War I. There are vast differences between that August and this one. But Tuchman ended her book with a sentence that resonates in this summer of crisis: “The nations were caught in a trap, a trap made during the first thirty days out of battles that failed to be decisive, a trap from which there was, and has been, no exit.”