HNN Poll: This Has Been the Lowest Moment in the History of American Diplomacy Since ... ?


"There's a recognition this has not been our finest diplomatic hour," a diplomat has told the NYT.

Even Republicans concede that American diplomacy has failed. Please contribute to a debate on this subject by posting your comment below.

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More Comments:

Dave LaCourse - 4/7/2003

I can’t believe how quick people are jumping on this.

The jury is still out, but the evidence is coming in. As the military looks in complexes and hospitals, it appears that the brutal nature of the Iraqi government is being uncovered.

Diplomacy and inspections were not finding these problems, leading to the question of "Why blame America for any 'failure' of diplomacy?"

A quick recap of only a FEW of the low-points:

Hundreds of bodies, some tortured, have now been found:


Hospital torture chamber:


A shell of an airplane was found for hijacking practice:


Raid Finds al-Qaida Tie to Iraq Militants


I could go on, but would anyone against this war really listen?

History will decide if going into Iraq was right or wrong. But claiming "American" failure of diplomacy is far, far too early.

Much of Europe could be blamed just as easily for NOT listening.


CJ - 4/5/2003

The lowest point since the land mass that would become North America split off from Pangia and drifted off in its' own direction.

Dave LaCourse - 3/30/2003

I would like to wait and see before entering into "the lowest point since...." debate.

If nothing is found in Iraq, then the American diplomacy "failure" issue will rage. And the whole reason for war will be questioned anew. And it should!

However, if biological or chemical weapons, nukes, torture chambers (complete with videos), and the like are found, and/or Al-Qaeda folks captured or killed, then it is not American diplomacy that will be debated, but why Europe didn't care or even listen despite the evidence presented to them.

After all, it takes two sides willing to listen to make diplomacy work. Why is "American diplomacy" blamed with the failure and not much of Europe? France and others have future oil contracts with Iraq, among other problems. Maybe they were the problem.

In short, this discussion has interesting reads, but it is a little too early.

Maybe diplomacy was not the answer this time. Maybe it was. Time will tell. Until then, blaming any "failure" on America is not appropriate.

c. heisler - 3/28/2003

For the commentator that persists in the canard that this Iraq invasion is the "first" invasion of another country by this nation, there is simply no hope. I do wonder why this person would be attracted to a History News Network however, as she obviously has no interest in the same.
Now that the Latin American examples have been dismissed, she might want to explain the hostile actions taken by the Vietnamese, the Koreans, and the Cambodians against the United States. Might want to throw in Italy as well. Germany in WWI and WWll?
I have heard the charge repeatedly about this being the "first time...." and it is simply not true and so easily rebutted that it isn't fun anymore.

Libertarian Larry - 3/22/2003

Right on.

The failure is all Saddam's, not Bush's. The President tried hard for months, he gave Saddam many outs. If there is a failure, it's Saddam's

Suetonius - 3/22/2003

Yeah, let's just keep adding to this humorous thread.


I really think we should condemn Rome for its actions in salting the ground around Carthage after its destruction. That's a real war crime there, and a testament to the failed diplomacy of Rome. After all, diplomacy solves everything and war nothing.


Frank Lee - 3/21/2003

In other words, not "since", but ever.

Ted Andrews - 3/21/2003

Without commenting on our delight with Guinea's support, it surely is important to note that we've done this before. As best I can remember, we definitely weren't attacked by Spain in the 1890s, we probably weren't attacked by Mexico in the 1840s and, more recently, we weren't attacked by the Dominican Republic, or Panama or, for that matter, by Iraq in 1990.

Our major trading allies are mad about something else besides the immediate issue of U.S. action against Iraq.

Peter M. Buzanski - 3/20/2003

We need not go back very long to find other low points. The illegal seizure of the dictator of a sovereign country, Panama, by U.S. invaders, and his then conviction of drug dealings that had been encouraged by the CIA and other US governmental bodies, may be placed next to the US invation of Grenada, another sovereign country. All this took place, approximately, during the past two decades.

Bill Heuisler - 3/20/2003

Mr. Moner,
Thank you for pointing out the herd and the forest. Your warm advice and sage counsel is always greatly appreciated, but I've been bashing France since I encountered my first Parisian waiter.
Unfortunately your valued comments failed to address the issues the rest of us were discussing.

The claim that the US destroyed the LON and the UN is wrong and describing the League as "a US creation it failed to back up by joining," is as bizarre as portraying paternity without coitus.

Questions:Did Hoare-Laval prevent LON intervention for Ethiopia?
Was the US involved in Hoare-Laval?
Did Chirac say he would block any new resolution to force Iraq to obey the former UN resolutions?
Doesn't that make any further US-UN discussion moot?
Yes. No. Yes. Yes.

Mr. Moner, stay on subject; straining allusions can burst blood vessels in embarrassing places. Some of the nicest people never learn the precise psychological moment to say nothing at all.
Bill Heuisler

Gus Moner - 3/20/2003

Mr Huisler,
You seem to be caught up in the mentality of the herd and are failing to see the forest from the trees. Bashing France is popular now, but in doing so are we not forgetting that China and Russia also opposed the use of precipitous force now unleashed? And what of the other nations in the UNSC who failed to agree with the US theses and proposed some timetables and benchmarks before deciding war was the only resort?

As for the League, your selective use of France as the culprit reflects your parroting the party line as was done in the USSR. There were many nations involved in the machinations within the LON, a US creation it failed to back up by joining, thereby dooming it to failure. Britain was part and parcel of its ineffectiveness, as was shown during the Spanish Civil War, the opening salvos of WWII.

Yes, it’s a history site, not a nation-bashing soap box. There is no resemblance between the LON results and today’s US lies to UNSC members. The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, urging the UNSC to support Resolution 1441, was quoted in Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2002 saying:

"There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution." He added: "Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the [Security] Council, and the Council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken."

As you say, “getting your history wrong on a history site … is foolish and annoying.”

Jim Johnson - 3/20/2003

This is my first visit to this site. I was surprised and disappointed that comments of this type are deemed appropriate for a presumably serious forum. I would not consider it censorship to weed out p.c. davis's mindless name-calling. Where is the argument here? While I support this particular action, I admit the diplomacy was not handled well. I base my support on the active, apparently sincere support of Prime Minister Blair. His support is quite out of character for him and political suicide, regardless of how this thing turns out. If Bush's allegations are not substantiated by what is found in Iraq, I call for his impeachment. If they are substantiated, I hope thoughtful commentators like p.c. davis have the decency to publically eat their words.

Norm - 3/19/2003

This is the lowest point since the inept foreign policy of Albright-Clinton put us in this mess. Sure, we can trust Kim Jong-Il because Jimmy Carter says so. No thanks, we do not want Bin Laden because that would mean doing business with some bad people. Instead, let's bomb an aspirin plant. It was just a coincidence that the ineffective Operation Desert Fox began with Clinton's trial in the Senate and concluded at about the same time. Our soldiers in Somlia could not have armor because that would look bad on television. What's happening in Rwanda is not genocide...

mark safranski - 3/19/2003

Hmmmmmm let's see. I wrote:

"At such junctures nations usually resort to war. When wars accompany the breakdown of international systems the rules of conduct among nations are revised at least some extent to reflect the new reality "

K. McClure responded:

"Maybe to encourage that stoic and realist distance that Mr. Safranski represents, we could call these things 'military events' instead of 'war' and 'paradigm shifts' rather than international crises.'"

Actually I prefer that we call things by their right names - it avoids a lot of the nonsense that passes for political debate on the net.

Bill Heuisler - 3/19/2003

Mr. Dresner,
By "we" may readers assume you mean the U.S.? Your priorities are apparently skewed by your politics. This is a history site. Is it more important to blame the U.S. for nearly everything, or to get your history straight?

The League of Nations and the United Nations were destroyed by their lack of will to enforce the peace. France was culpable in both cases. In January 1935 Pierre Laval's French government signed an accord with Mussolini granting Italy concessions in Africa. In October 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia. In November 1935 the League was blocked from taking action largely by Pierre Laval (the Hoare-Laval proposals). On May 9, 1936 Italy annexed Ethiopia and the League became irrelevant

The United Nations became irrelevant when French Prime Minister Jacque Chirac vowed to veto any resolution forcing Iraq to conform to previous United Nations resolutions.

The United States didn't castrate France or the U.N., Mr. Dresner, but getting your history wrong on a history site just to bash your country is foolish and annoying.
Bill Heuisler

K. McClure - 3/19/2003

What charming detachment. Maybe to encourage that stoic and realist distance that Mr. Safranski represents, we could call these things 'military events' instead of 'war' and 'paradigm shifts' rather than international crises.' Then, aside from those who know their Orwell, maybe no one would feel perturbed.

cassadra - 3/19/2003

Those skirmishes were provoked: they beat up on our peace-loving Texicans, blew up our battleship, built a menancing airstrip on a Caribbean island capable of handling long-range Soviet bombers, and were part of narcotraffickers flooding our country with narcotics.

dan - 3/19/2003

Actually, we did quite a few uninvited invasions in seveal spanish-speaking areas of the world in the last 120 years or so...

U. N. and O. A. S.
They have their place I guess,

But when in doubt
Send the Marines!

- Tom Lehrer -

dan - 3/19/2003

"Diplomacy, however skillful or well-meaning cannot succeed in the face of absolute intransigence."

A perfect description of George W. Bush. Thanks!

p.c.davis - 3/19/2003

What can you expect from a inept, incompetent moron and his lying, thieving, evil cabal of mind boggling hyprocisy. Will the repubs ever try to do anything for the good of this country?

Jonathan Dresner - 3/19/2003

Twice in less than a century we helped establish, and then functionally destroyed, international bodies intended to make the world a more peaceful place.

mark safranski - 3/19/2003

Diplomacy, however skillful or well-meaning cannot succeed in the face of absolute intransigence. If it could, there would be no Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Islamist terrorism. Iraq was not going to voluntarily disarm no matter what and France was not going to assent to a Security Council resolution that would enforce disarmament upon Iraq. This was clear not days, or weeks or months or years but whole presidential administrations ago.

At such junctures nations usually resort to war. When wars accompany the breakdown of international systems the rules of conduct among nations are revised at least some extent to reflect the new reality. Major changes in international relations occurred with the Treaty of Westphalia, the French Revolution, The Concert of Europe, The League of Nations, The U.N. - Bretton Woods -GATT -WTO and now a new post Cold War - Global Market revision is in the making. You can mourn the old system's demise or cheer the advent of the new but changes will come because they reflect the reality of power as statesmen gauge it and new challenges they face that old systems cannot handle.


Horace - 3/19/2003

Since the CIA killed Allende.

Bill Maher - 3/19/2003

I am beginning to think that many historians, to borrow an image from Tennessee Williams, worship the great gray cockaloonie bird overhead. Perhaps they should settle down and read Tony Blair's remarks to the House of Commons yesterday. Their intellectual hysteria certainly makes me want to read Useful Idiots.

Robert Simonds - 3/19/2003

George W. will go down in history as the President who did the most damage to this nation, and set the country and the world on a truly disastrous course. Even the blundering generation that brought us to war against each other in 1861 can't compare.

cassadra - 3/19/2003

There is no lower point in history than this debacle. We have alienated our major trading allies, who won't support this costly and foolish invasion that marks the first time the United States has invaded a country that hasn't started military maneuvers against us. It's so bad, the White House spokesman Tuesday bragged that we won the support of Guinea. See the transcript on the White House Web site, and cry.