The Limits of Tolerance and Intolerance.
Th subject of the symposium was "The Limits of Tolerance and Intolerance." There were eight speakers formed into two panels and a keynoter (Roger Wilkins). I spoke on the second panel on the subject "Diplomacy and Intolerance." I was allotted 20 minutes and used fifteen. The text follows, and you can read it in less time than that, if you are interested.
Cosmos Club Symposium
I may be guilty of naiveté or presumption, but I have chosen to interpret the title of this symposium as meaning that we should be promoting tolerance and limiting or reducing intolerance. If I am wrong about that, I beg your forgiveness and indulgence of what follows. My assignment was to discuss the diplomatic implications of this struggle. I have neither the ability nor the time allotment to try to address the many conflicts around the world that have resulted from clashes over intolerance, so I have chosen to talk about what our country and the international community are trying to do to promote tolerance.
Diplomacy is what national states practice in their dealings with one another in an effort to advance their mutual welfare. I will certainly not rehash the questionable performance of the American government in this area over the past eight years, when the use of a large military force advantage over actual and potential adversaries was the preferred tactic instead of diplomacy. But I will mention one low point back in January 2002 when the president, in his State of the Union speech to Congress, or perhaps it was his speechwriter, used the unfortunate formulation of the existence of an “axis of evil” made up of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. Never mind that the former two states had engaged in a bloody war for eight years in the 1980s, or that North Korea was a continent distant and much more concerned with its immediate neighborhood. This was not an axis by any stretch, and look at what transpired. We clandestinely supported Iraq against Iran and then attacked and invaded Iraq twice, while we refused to talk with Iran for some 30 years after its revolution, which included holding a host of our diplomats hostage for 444 days. As for North Korea, we first abandoned an agreement negotiated by the prior administration and then spent years negotiating a new agreement that did not succeed in its purpose of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons there, while in Iraq the alleged WMD were not found as promised, and while in Iran major sanctions have not stopped its nuclear enrichment program. So much for that axis. ( Collapse )