The Diplomat takes us through the problems in calibrating your rhetoric to signal just the right level of commitment to both friends and enemies.
Messaging with adversaries can be just as fraught with problems. Robert Dreyfuss’ recent post on how the United States and Iran managed to avoid a fracas over an air combat scrum in the Gulf reveals how complex the problem of evaluating intent can be. When both sides have incentive to deceive, coming to an accommodation about a narrative of events, much less the real story, can be altogether difficult. This is especially the case when both sides seek to maintain a “reputation for toughness,” which supposedly pays diplomatic and military dividends down the road.
He uses the Falklands War and the First Gulf War as reference points for alleged errors. Of course, it’s clear how much more difficult it is to message properly when you’re in the process of eviscerating your navy, even as your adversary upgrades its air force.