Betsy Crites: Try diplomacy first

September 13, 2013 

Diplomacy first

In his Sept. 12 Point of View “Balancing convictions,” William Chafe seems to have fallen into the same trap as many pundits and politicians. If the diplomatic effort underway with Syria doesn’t work, Chafe asks, “Do we have a choice other than to act?” The assumption is that only military attacks qualify as action; diplomacy does not.

In a related Sept. 12 news article, “Russia back at center of influence,” the writer cautiously explores a different view. He quotes Bill Keller of the New York Times who wrote that Putin “has recast Russia as the global peacemaker.”

Some say that the recent diplomatic breakthroughs came about only because of our military threats. If so, that was an unexpected outcome. The administration never seriously pursued nonmilitary options and was clearly surprised by the turn of events. Had President Obama been as determined in crafting productive solutions as he was in “punishing” Syria, we might have achieved our goals more completely while demonstrating leadership as global peacemakers. Instead, we left that void to be filled by the Russians.

Perhaps in the future, the U.S. will consider diplomacy as “action” and try that first.

Betsy Crites

Durham

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