Old-School Diplomacy Sinks in 'Age of Pirates'

US faces leaders not 'ready' or 'able' to talk things out
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 15, 2009 8:32 AM CDT
An Afghan official takes note as he inspects a damaged vehicle after an explosion in Mazar-i- Sharif the provincial capital of Balkh province north of Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, April 13, 2009.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration wants to talk to countries like Afghanistan and North Korea—but you can’t make a deal with leaders who aren’t ready or able to make one, Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times. The US is trying to employ classic diplomacy in an “age of pirates, failed states, nonstate actors, and nation-building—the stuff of snipers, drones, and generals, not diplomats.”

Afghanistan and Pakistan’s leaders wield too little power to fix things; North Korea and Iran offer lip service, but have little intention of changing. The US must assert itself, Friedman says, helping to build up Afghanistan and Pakistan and putting more outside pressure on North Korea and Iran. “Instead, I fear that we are adopting a middle-ground strategy—doing just enough to avoid collapse but not enough to solve the problems,” Friedman writes.