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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bush/Putin and the Absurdity of Negotiating with Ahmadinejad

Most of my liberal friends protest immediately when I tell them that I believe that Bush's biggest mistake in his term was looking into Putin's soul and seeing anything but the sociopathic former KGB agent that he is. It isn't of course that they don't see this as a major mistake but that they see other much bigger mistakes. That said, Bush's relationship with Putin offers a glimpse into the absurdity of trying to negotiate with Ahmadinejad, as Barack Obama proposes.

Ever since Bush pronounced seeing the soul of a good man in Putin, Putin has done nothing but be a thorn in our side and offer the soul of a sociopath hell bent on consolidating his own power and returning the country he rules to to prior dominance.

Bush sat down with Putin early in his first term, prior to 9/11 even. Since then, Putin actively lobbied against our invasion of Iraq. He has gotten into bed with most of our enemies and rivals including Iran and China. He has actively worked against every interest we have had in his region, including most recently missile defense. In the meantime, he has set back democracy and civil rights in his own country centuries.

So, while Bush may even consider Putin a friend, I can't for the life of me think of one thing that friendly relationship has gotten our side. That's because Vladimir Putin is a boiler plate standard issue sociopath. While Bush was seeing a friendship develop, Putin saw an opportunity. Putin has since used that opportunity to further his own interests and often at the expense of ours. That's because when Bush negotiated with him he didn't do it from a position of strength. Bush's monumental mistake was not recognizing a rival and treating him as such but rather as a partner. Putin recognized the opening and took advantage.

While it could be argued that Bush couldn't necessarily see the madman in front of him (though given his previous role in the KGB it is hard to think what else he could be), there is no doubting that Ahmadinejad is a madman. Barack Obama believes that we need a so called diplomatic surge in Iraq and that Iran must be a part of that surge. He seems to believe that Iran must be a part of that surge. The mind of this madman is not necessarily that difficult to decipher. Ahmadinejad has his own agenda. He would like to see Iran dominate the Middle East. Stability in Iraq has absolutely no place in that vision. Thus, he will use whatever diplomatic encounter to try and further those goals. Just like Putin used his relationship with Bush to do nothing but further his own goals, Ahmadinejad will work in much the same way.

Now, in order to understand how to negotiate with tyrants we really need to look at the same country and follow history. We successfully negotiated with the madman Joseph Stalin and then ended the cold war by negotiating with the Communists both in the Soviet Union. Now, the reason that we extended an open hand to Stalin was because he looked over at Germany and found a threat that concerned him more than the U.S. and our allies. It was a marriage of convenience no doubt and that was proven when the same Stalin immediately went from ally to enemy as soon as the war ended and began a figurative war that lasted nearly half a century.

Reagan also negotiated, successfully, with the Communists as well. Before he sat down with the Soviets, Reagan first built up our military so much that the same Soviets finally realized their economy was flawed and they were beaten into submission. The lesson from both of these negotiations is that negotiating with the mad must come from a position of strength. Bush didn't realize that he was negotiating with a madman and thus didn't prepare himself and that was his terrible flaw. Obama likely doesn't realize either that Ahmadinejad is either a madman or that we need to negotiate with madmen from a position of strength. On both counts, he is terribly wrong and our geopolitical position will take an extraordinary hit if he takes these fallacies into any negotiations with Ahmadinejad.


Unknown said...

Your comments are way off base. Ahmadinejad is not Putin. He is a scared little guy who lives every moment of his life as if that is his last because of what we have done to the region. I would like to know what you would have done if you had put yourself in his shoes. In my view, he has two choices. Either he keeps his dignity and bluff his way out of the predicament he is in, or he bows down and start kissing Bush's ass. The second option would not keep him in office for long.

mike volpe said...

Actually, the main comparison between Putin and Ahmadinejad is that they are both sociopaths as I pointed out in the piece. That was the only comparison I made.

If you know anything about sociopaths you know they always have their own agenda. Putin used the meetings with Bush to further his own agenda, and the same would be true of Ahmadinejad. Whether he is scared or not is up for debate. His country continues to develop nuclear weapons, supply weapons to Shiite terrorists all over the Middle East, he denies the Holocaust, and thus those don't seem to be the actions of a scared individual.

Anonymous said...

Why is Putin such a tyrant? Granted the Moscow Gay Parade was a dismal failure. Complete with bashings and slinking away in humiliation. But that is Russia! A very conservative place. Or maybe you like the Oligarchs. And are disappointed that Putin is busy sending them to Siberia.