Big Red Car here. Nice — Hell, wonderful — day in the ATX. Bright, sunny and a bit warm. But, ahh, it is great to be alive.
So The Boss is up early this morning drinking some coffee and chatting with one of his CEOs and they go to discussing the business of bluffing.
Bluffing is when you threaten consequences and are not likely to actually employ them. It happens all the time.
Remember that road trip when you were just a tyke and you were measuring the tensile strength of your sweet sister’s hair? She was quite a cutie in those day, no?
You would yank on her pigtails hard and she would cry and you would put on your most angelic face when Mom asked WTF? Yes, you do.
Dad said: “Do you want me to come back there?”
Of course, you were hurtling down the road at 85 MPH (hey, it was Texas back in the day — BTW do you know there are highways in Texas where the speed limit is now 85 MPH?) and Dad was not really going to come back there to swat you.
Dad was bluffing.
But you were not really quite ready to test Dad’s resolve, now were you? Because back in the day, Dad was not so enlightened and believed in corporal punishment. And, Hell, corporal punishment entailed a swat on the butt and that hurt.
Bluffing is not always a good policy
There is a tendency today for the United States of America to do a lot of bluffing. And, it seems in the opinion of the Big Red Car to be a bit awkward.
Of note, recently, we have told Iran that their having a nuclear weapon is “unacceptable” and yet the Iranians continue down the path toward becoming a nuclear power unfazed by our threats and sanctions. We, on the other hand, seem to be saying to the world — well, uhhh, maybe we were just kidding and maybe we can learn to live with a nuclear Iran.
So what are we really going to do with Iran? Because Iran is calling our bluff. Big time!
And recently we told the Syrians that if they used chemical weapons against their people that would “cross a red line” and have “enormous consequences”! Does that sound a little like Dad used to back in the day?
So the Syrians used chemical weapons — Sarin nerve gas to be exact — and killed some of their people. The President said we would have to study it and that it would not be something we could expect to sort itself out any time soon.
The Big Red Car does not think that sounds very much like “enormous consequences” — what do you think?
North Korea is running amok — great work, don’t you think? — and who knows what they are really going to do next? In any event, we alternatively have been threatening them and then giving them support of all kinds. What a silly and disorganized policy.
The bottom line — bluffing is a silly strategy particularly when you have absolutely no intention of doing anything. Anything at all.
Remember the Somali pirates?
Do you recall the episode with the Somali pirates when they took the Americans hostage and the Seals blasted nine of them to Hell? <<< click on this link to read the NYT story.
The Seals did not bluff and there have been few such episodes since.
These Somali pirates realized — well, the American SEALs are not bluffing. Ouch!
That is the benefit of favoring action rather than bluffing. You get pretty good results.
So, we need a foreign policy which is not dependent upon idle and hollow threats — bluffs. We need a foreign policy which is short on talk and long on action.
Remember the Somali pirates? Well, they remember the SEALs and that, dear friends, is a damn good thing.