Friday, September 22, 2006

It's the "Speak softly and carry a big stick" foreign policy

And to make that foriegn policy effective, you actually have to use the stick from time to time or else people forget it's there and ignore it (that's also known as the French foreign policy, but that's a different post).

NEW YORK (AFP) - The United States threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the Stone Age" after the September 11, 2001 attacks unless it supported the war on terror, President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview.

Musharraf, whose support for the US-led war in Afghanistan after the attacks was instrumental in the fall of the Taliban regime, said former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage made the threat to Pakistan's head of intelligence.

"The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age'," Musharraf said in the interview with the "60 Minutes" investigative news programme, according to selected excepts.

"I think it was a very rude remark," Musharraf says in the interview, due to be broadcast Sunday. "One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation, and that's what I did."

Flexing your muscles and using that big stick every so often, makes the diplomacy a more effective tool. "Help us or you're next" was an effective message in this case.

Can I see why the Pakistani's feelings may have gotten hurt by the "rude" remark? Sure. Do I think Armitage should apologize? No. He was blunt and got straight to the point. After 9/11 we didn't have the time or the patience to sugar coat messages to avoid stepping on toes. It was get on board, or you're a target. Besides being blunt takes diplomatic double talk out of play. There's no hidden messages or extra meaning to be inferred. Simple and straight to the point.

And guess what. It worked.

Musharraf's been an ally, despite that being a largely unpopular course of action in his country.