On Talking To Our Enemies
Why is it okay for Ronald Reagan to talk to the leaders of the Soviet Union (a nation he labeled the "Evil Empire" and which had enough nukes pointed at us the wipe us off the face of the earth)....but if Barack Obama suggests talking to the leadership of Iran, he's an "appeaser" right up there with Chamberlain at Munich?
Obama said it perfectly in his recent remarks:
“It’s time to present Iran with a clear choice,” Mr. Obama said. “If it abandons its nuclear program, support for terror and threats to Israel, then Iran can rejoin the community of nations. If not, Iran will face deeper isolation and steeper sanctions.”
Classic carrot and stick. You want someone to change their behavior? Then you make acting the way you want agreeable to that person and you make acting the way you don't want disagreeable. You can't very well do that without talking to them. Yes, you could make public statements, but direct negotiations are how one establishes a procedure for either fixing the problem or determining that it won't be fixed and doing sanctions (or worse).
And he's talking about TALKING. That's all. He's not giving away the Sudetenland. And if Iran fails to negotiate in good faith, then they've further isolated themselves and we've got more international capital which we can use in taking increasingly severe actions.
Furthermore, talking to Iran does not mean endorsing its views.....no more than Reagan talking to Gorbachev meant Reagan suddenly endorsed a Marxist revolution.
McCain has the gall to call Obama's approach naive. Yeah, because the Bush approach of non-engagement, saber-rattling, and invading Iran's neighbor (thereby creating a power vacuum that Iran has been only too happy to fill)......it's all worked so well in stopping Iran
Oh yeah, unless you want to invade Iran too. Because, y'know, our military isn't stretched enough. And invading Iraq has worked out so well for us. [End sarcasm] Also, there are no good military options in Iran. (Slightly dated documents, but the range of voices making this point is still impressive.)
[Note: Hopefully soon Blogger's spell-check function will recognize the words "Barack" and "Obama."]
Update [5/17/08 2:07 PM]: Moderately conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks has some interesting insights on this issue from this conversation with Obama after Obama said something that admittedly sounded a lot like "appeasement." It must be nice to be the kind of person who - when wondering what a presidential candidate meant by some statement - can simply call him up an ask him.