Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Two events marked the boisterous Mandela commemoration.  The South African President Jacob Zuma was was jeered:  democracy strives in South Africa thanks to Madiba's legacy which was in full sound and view on the moment of his adieu...

President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro
The uproar this  created in the ranks of mostly Republicans is deafening. It was to be expected coming from the likes of Senator Rubio but I am surprised by the reaction of Senator McCain, who cannot be accused of provincial attitudes. The gesture per se was almost anodyne. Cuba is more a relic than a threat. Besides, no Cuban in his right mind speaks of wiping countries off the map or covering terrorism. It helps Venezuela as losers do, comforting each other. For sure the Castro brothers are no fans of human rights but neither are so many world leaders and "allies" who are worse but find open doors worldwide while closing their own doors so that their internal murky dealings remain out of sight. I wonder what the critics of today would have said when President Nixon met Mao?

The US President did the polite thing, which was fitting in a celebration of pluralism and reconciliation. The "nays" look once again like political Neanderthals, alienated from the ways the world at large functions. This "dystopia" maniacal attitude leads to caricatured assessments, generally shared by bigots at large, who can by the way be found in all segments of the American political spectrum, from left to (more often) right. Politicians are stuck in premises which are often outdated, trying (almost pathologically so) to apply outlived archetypes on contemporary situations.

Diplomacy is more about ways than about friends. If the ways collude, the better, if they collide, the worse. Formerly accepted easy prejudices must be overhauled by stress and reality checks. The diplomatic customers vary but there is no other choice than to deal with what there is rather than pursuing what there is not.  Presidents Karzai or Yanukovich are hardly palatable but they cannot be ignored.  Yesterday's foe becomes today's friend (remember the generals in Myanmar and the monks on fire?)

Diplomacy looks for a resolution wherein the chances for an unavoidable military outcome (on condition that one keeps control of scope, time and space, as was the case during the first Iraq war) are reduced and wherein the desirable alternative becomes an incremental goal. Paradoxically, this also implies that the deterrent of undiminished military might needs to be looking over the shoulder of the negotiators. Lately the fury of unnecessary prolonged conflicts has created a subculture which has invaded civil society.  It has become banal, a parasitical commodity which distorts the conversation like chronically phoning or texting.

The invasion of hybrid entities, overlapping-border tribes, clans and freaky Jihadist components leads me to believe that a bad state is better than a non-state. The various former US presidents who have visited Pyongyang will not contradict me. Neither will the American and other investors who are impatient, waiting in their starting blocks to do business with Cuba.

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