The Weird World of the Washington Post, Where Reagan Never Met Gorbachev

 Reagan and GorbachevAs I’ve written before (FAIR Blog, 12/2/09), reading theWashington Post opinion pages can be like reading dispatches from a parallel universe. You get that sense of alternative history fromPost deputy editorial editorJackson Diehl‘s latest piece (12/21/14), teeing off on Barack Obama’s statement that “we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos.”

In the Washington Post’s version of reality, the United States never engaged in direct diplomacy with the Soviet Union–or if it did, Soviet bloc nations never transitioned to democracy.

Writes Diehl:

If regime collapse is not a desirable outcome in Cuba –or, for that matter, in Syria, Iran and other dictatorships–it follows that the correct policy is U.S. “engagement” or “direct diplomacy” with such regimes, aimed not at overturning them but at gradually nudging them toward more civilized behavior.

This, Diehl says, is in conflict with

two historical facts: A large number of successful democracies have grown out of regime collapse; and US “engagement” with Stalinist-style totalitarian regimes, such as Cuba, has never produced such a transition.

Obama’s chaos theory won’t make much sense to former citizens of East Germany, who last month celebrated the 25th anniversary of the sudden collapse of their regime–and the Berlin Wall.

In Diehl’s account, promotion of “chaos” has produced democratic results, whereas “US ‘engagement’ with dictatorships, on the other hand, has a much thinner record of results–and none in the former Soviet Bloc.”

So what can we learn about the alternative timeline that Diehl hails from? In that world, apparently, the United States never had “engagement” or “direct diplomacy” with the Soviet Bloc–and as a result, the countries in that bloc fell into a “chaos,” from which democratic governments emerged.*In Diehl’s account, promotion of “chaos” has produced democratic results, whereas “US ‘engagement’ with dictatorships, on the other hand, has a much thinner record of results–and none in the former Soviet Bloc.”
Jackson Diehl

This contrasts sharply with the history of the world that you and I are familiar with, where the United States established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 and with East Germany in 1974, in sharp contrast to the 53-year lack of recognition that Diehl clearly thinks should have been maintained for Cuba.

Jackson Diehl, visitor from an alternative timeline.

The US in our world did not maintain a Cuba-style embargo against the Soviet Union or East Germany, and generally sought to increase trade with those nations–particularly in the late ’80s, shortly before they transitioned to Western-style electoral democracies with capitalist economies.

Far from shunning direct diplomacy with the Soviet Union, every president from FDR to George Bush Sr. met directly with a Soviet counterpart at least once, for a total of 26 summit meetings–12 of them in the last seven years before the end of the Soviet system. When Diehl writes that “engagement” never led to a democratic transition in the Soviet bloc, then, he must be talking about some kind of parallel timestream.

Our world also differs from Diehl’s in that “chaos” typified the transition to democracy in East Germany. In our world, the government of East Germany dissolved peacefully when it held free elections for its parliament, the Volkskammer, in 1989, and the victorious non-Communist parties negotiated a reunification with the government of West Germany. In other words, it didn’t look anything at all like the kind of violent collapse into anarchy that  Obama was warning against–like Libya experienced after NATO drove its government from power.

At least that’s how it happened in our continuum; you’d have to ask Diehl what happened in the universe he hails from.

* Or perhaps the US did engage with the Soviet bloc, and as a result those countries never became electoral democracies? It’s hard to say–communication between Diehl’s universe and ours is more than a little murky.






About athenianvoice

Kosmas Loumakis - Sociological consultant, analyst, field operative and tactical field coordinator of national and regional social projects in Sweden. Was contracted for almost two decades by governmental bodies and NGO's, in governmental gang crime and extremism preventive efforts. Have produced a number of socio pedagogic action plans and developed methods, field tactics and strategies for gang crime and extremism preventive projects.

Posted on January 2, 2015, in Articles in English, Hot and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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