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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/856931-My-Response-to-Zakaria-Interview-of-Obama-this-AM-8-9-15
Rated: E · Book · Writing · #2044345
Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
#856931 added August 9, 2015 at 5:32pm
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My Response to Zakaria Interview of Obama this AM 8-9-15
This morning, I watched Fareed Zakaria interview President Obama. Afterward, he shared his article, to be found at, http://fareedzakaria.com/ about pessimism in post WWII US politics. The main topic of conversation with the President was the Iran peace agreement which can be found at http://www.us-iran.org/news/2015/7/14/full-text-of-the-Iran-nuclear-deal .

Two statements stuck in my mind: Fareed Zakaria said we have had 5 major periods of pessimism in the past 70 years and named them including Sputnik, and our fear that the Soviet Union would dominate us technologically; the Vietnam war; the influence of the Soviet Union in Latin America and Afghanistan; the rise of the Japanese economy; and the Middle East Oil Crisis. He discussed these issues and concluded that the optimists have consistently seen things more realistically. My experience is congruent with this. The optimists to whom I have paid most attention turned out to be right about how things would turn out much more often than the pessimists. The Soviet Union is gone. Russia is still doing what Russia has always done, but they are containable. The domino theory about the spread of Communism was way wrong. The Middle East oil interests and Japan have not dominated world interactions and decisions.

The other: President Obama said that he does not plan for failure; and he stated that he sees America’s power as much more rooted in many negotiated agreements than in military strength. I imagine he has said these things before, but I didn’t notice them until today. I was delighted to hear him articulate what appears to be truth to me. The many treaties and economic agreements that have been made in my lifetime seem to have been very powerful and important. This has always been true, when the US honored our own agreements. Taking our agreements seriously was not the hallmark of our first 125 years as a nation as you can see in the many broken treaties with the Native Americans. We do that better now, but not always. Witness the history of our behavior in the UN, and our flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention during the George W. Bush administration which continues in the form of Guantanamo prison. But generally, I think we have exerted influence much more effectively through negotiation than military power throughout my lifetime.

As for planning or not planning for failure, I see people who plan for success succeed more often, and handle failure much more effectively than people who already have, and publish, their plan for failure of their primary plan. If they see something that could lead to failure, optimists solve it in their primary plan and continue to work for success without giving up. In my mind, going to war is giving up on negotiation. It is plan B implemented before plan A has been tried. This is consistent with social science research that aversives have more negative than positive outcomes. It isn’t the destruction of Japanese power with the A bomb that led to a strong, peaceful Japan. It is the effectiveness of the recovery plan that made this happen. The same is true with post WWII Germany.

This is one more experience that clarifies and reinforces my basic idea that negotiation is the best approach to problem solving on all levels of human interaction. The President does not make a habit of planning for failure and I know this works. I have respect for people saying specifically what they see as weakness in any potential agreement. I disrespect people saying it won’t work before they read it. I disrespect people talking only about their fears without mentioning the strengths of a situation. I disrespect all-or-nothing thinking. I wish the Republican Party would find some optimism in their midst.

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