American diplomatic missions with rogue regimes consistently fail, and this failure comes with very high costs such as an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait or a North Korean nuclear weapon. During Monday night’s Bradley Lecture at AEI, Michael Rubin challenged the popular belief that it never hurts to talk, a topic he discusses at length in his upcoming book, “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes.”
Rubin blamed America’s failure to achieve results through talking on the dogma shared by many American statesmen that diplomacy by itself can be beneficial. Rubin argued that diplomacy alone is generally useless and oftentimes harmful to US goals. Diplomacy is effective, he clarified, when used in tandem with superior intelligence, economic sanctions, or credible military threats.
Not all groups think alike, Rubin reminded the audience, and it is great folly to approach negotiations with rogues under the assumption that peace and reconsolidation are a shared end goal. Equally foolish, he continued, is the tendency of US presidents to blame past diplomatic failures on predecessors rather than adversaries. He concluded that US leaders must confront and adapt to diplomatic failures and recognize that diplomacy used in isolation from hard power is frequently inefficacious.
Whether wielding nuclear or chemical weapons, sponsoring truck bombs, or taking hostages, rogue regimes and terrorist groups continue to threaten the United States and its allies. How should America address the rogue threat?
Highlighting research from his new book, “Dancing with the Devil” (Encounter Books, February 2014), Michael Rubin will describe not only lessons Americans have learned from decades of engaging Iran, North Korea, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Taliban, but also what rogue regimes and terrorists have concluded about dialogue with Americans.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Danielle Pletka, AEI
Michael Rubin, AEI
Adjournment and Reception
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Danielle Pletka was a long-time US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia. In that role, Pletka was the point person on the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel, and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia (Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan). She is the coeditor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the coauthor of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011). Her most recent study, “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” was published in May 2012. She is currently working on a follow-up report on US–Iranian competitive strategies in the Middle East, to be published in the winter of 2013.
Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research area is the Middle East, with a special focus on Iran, Turkey, Arab politics, Afghanistan, and diplomacy. Rubin regularly instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East on regional politics and teaches classes on Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on US aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. Encounter Books will publish his newest book, “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes,” in early 2014.