Iran and Soft Power
VDH makes the usual case about how weak soft power is when confronting fundamentalist religious regimes like Iran's. He's right - so far as he goes. But what he fails to grasp is that, under Bush and Cheney, the West has not only much less soft power thanks to the U.S.'s abandonment of humane treatment of military detainees, but the collapse in hard power is even steeper. It's the crumpled paper tiger of the US military in Iraq that is fueling Iranian aggression. The grind of the under-manned and under-planned Iraq occupation has destroyed the U.S.'s credible hard power in the Middle East. With this deft, disgusting game with British sailors, Iran's regime is reminding us of two things: that we have no real soft power left among our allies, and that our hard power is being slowly degraded and humiliated in Iraq. All of this is a direct consequence of the Bush administration's grotesque incompetence these past six years. They are worse than Carter; and the American people were smart enough to dump him after four years. The truth is: Bush and Cheney, for all their bluster, have actually weakened the United States internationally and strengthened the hand of our most dangerous enemies. They are our Chamberlain. We await a Churchill.