Friday, October 05, 2007

Our Ms. Brooks: With Snarkitude

Usually, by Friday I'm ready for Rosa Brooks' column in the Los Angeles Times, but this week I was really ready. I was not disappointed.

Christopher Hill, U.S. assistant secretary of State, stunned reporters Wednesday by announcing that North Korea has agreed to disable its nuclear facilities -- and by attributing the breakthrough to a "a previously unknown but surprisingly effective" method of foreign relations recently discovered by U.S. officials, which Hill dubbed "diplomacy."

"This is a real first for us," Hill explained proudly. "And I won't pretend that the idea of using this 'diplomacy' technique didn't initially strike me as wacky. But so far, so good!"

In a written statement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice elaborated on Hill's announcement: "This is an exciting moment in U.S. foreign policy. Now that we have discovered this innovative new method, 'diplomacy,' our nation will no longer have to rely exclusively on more traditional forms of foreign relations such as mockery, insults and unilateral military action."

Not everyone agrees that diplomacy is "new." Professor Richard F. Burton III, William Moreson Chair of Ancient History at UC Berkeley, notes that the art of diplomacy was fairly well known to past civilizations, from China's Eastern Zhou dynasty (771-221 BC) to the U.S. administration of William Jefferson Clinton (AD 1993-2001). ...

White House insiders hint that not everyone is equally delighted by Hill's rediscovery of diplomacy. A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney was sharply critical: "Don't you think there's a reason our office has worked so hard to suppress knowledge of the art of diplomacy? In the wrong hands, diplomacy is flat-out dangerous. Imagine what would happen if all our enemies started using it!"

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton concurred: "You let these State Department dipsticks use diplomacy, even just for a few weeks, and the next thing you know they're promising to take North Korea off the list of terrorism sponsors in exchange for some piddling nuclear concessions. Keep that kind of thing up and there won't be anyone left in the 'axis of evil.' Then who are we supposed to bomb?"

I wonder if any of Ms. Brooks colleagues in the news biz will get it.

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