April 18, 2009

Barnett on Talking to Iran

Barnett's take on the Obama administration's approach to Iran, responding to Daniel Hennigner in the WSJ "Will Islam Return Obama's 'Respect'?"4/9/09:

"Another sort of whiney op-ed you will read--more times than you'll be able to count--in the pages of the WSJ in coming months and years: if we show Islam respect, then America is surrendering to every single outrage that occurs across its vast expanse of rather retrograde political systems.

Then again, we're likely to have far happier Muslims over here, and that's worth something, in addition to the world's better opinion.

The Christian thing to do is to behave well, expecting nothing in return, letting the shame fall on their side instead of ours. We don't behave well to get results; we behave well because it's right.

And the strategic thing to do is realize that we'll do just fine with whatever comes next in globalization while these states will be forced into wrenching changes across the board (ours will be limited to economics).

There is no great need for any sort of containment: globalization's penetrating embrace of Islamic regions creates all the dynamics of note, with our actions being largely a reactive sideshow.

But in those actions, if we show respect, we pick up no unnecessary friction.

And that's worth something."