Obama is full of talk about tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.
Tough, direct presidential diplomacy with an enemy, be it Iran or other, without preconditions is a huge mistake, for the simple reason that appeasement never works.
City Journal has an article on Spain’s ETA, the Basque terrorist Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1959 which continues to bring death. The article explains what happened when Zapatero sat down for his brand of “tough, direct presidential diplomacy without preconditions”:
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Zapatero’s decision in 2006 to negotiate with ETA without demanding that it first lay down its weapons proved a major miscalculation, threatening to reverse these gains. While ETA had entered into and broken temporary cease-fires with previous governments in 1989 and 1998, the Socialists had claimed, with much fanfare, to have brokered Spain’s first “permanent” cease-fire with the group. But the lull in terror lasted only eight months, shattering in December 2006 with ETA’s airport attack. Though ETA had phoned in a warning, as it often does, two Ecuadorans, sleeping in their car while waiting to pick up passengers, died in the blast. The Socialist government suspended talks and increased police and political pressure on ETA.
Terrorism experts now agree that ETA simply used the cease-fire to rebuild, recruit, and rearm.
Tough diplomacy can only work if preconditions have been met and an enemy faces even more severe consequences, not appeasement. Zapatero’s misstep is only one instance where appeasement didn’t work.