One after another, our nation’s enemies are moving to make an example of Americans abroad. Ostensibly it’s about the rule of law. But with trumped-up charges, these acts are provocations.
It may be because Obama’s “smart diplomacy” amounts to shunning friends, appeasing tyrants, deferring to international law and imagining America as no more special than any other nation. Fact is, Americans are being singled out because rogue regimes are confident that they have nothing to fear from us any longer.
I don’t advocate ruthless quelling of anyone who annoys us, but at the end of the day, if you are not willing to demand respect, you won’t get it, especially in a “tooth and claw” environment that best characterized international diplomacy.
Game theory tells us that the only real way to ensure an opponent behaves in a reasonable manner is to punish unreasonable behavior. Unwillingness or inability to do that encourages unreasonable behavior, with predictable results. “Smart Diplomacy” is preparing for (and often publicizing) how we will respond to behavior we don’t like, and making it clear that we will follow through.
It isn’t smart to assume that everyone will just be nice if we are nice to them.