Obama Not an Appeaser, Yet.

It is unfair to call Obama an appeaser, but his repeated unsophisticated statements raise valid questions about his grasp of negotiating with bad guys and how a president should do that. As a lawyer, Obama can negotiate w/o reference to guilt or innocence, but he can’t do the same thing in international affairs. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, we may doubt Obama’s experience & judgment.

Let me also say up front that Obama’s supporters are trying to explain away his misstep and that Obama just made a rookie mistake during his debate with Clinton. But I would like to hear Obama himself backtrack on his foolish statement that he personally would meet with the bad guys. It is really easy. Just do it, Barack. Instead he digs himself deeper, pointing out that obvious – that does not present the kind of existential threat that the Soviet Union did – but then draws the wrong conclusion.

Obama says that if the president would talk personally to the leader of the Soviet Union, why not talk to the leader of Iraq? Listen carefully to your own words, Barack. The Soviet Union was a big existential threat to the entire world. That is what you said and you were right. Iran is not. You said that too and you were right. So why do YOU equate them as being equally demanding of a personal meeting?

Okay, Barack. I understand you are new at this international diplomacy thing, so let's think about it. Why is it a dumb idea to promise to talk to sponsors of terrorism w/o preconditions? Let me count the ways.

Most important has to do with expectations. When the president meets with any other leader there is the expectation that something will come of it. This puts great pressure on the American president to make some kind of concession to make a deal. The dictators are largely immune to such pressures since they do not face a free press and their incentives are often just to be seen standing up to the Americans. That is why when the president meets any leader there is a long litany of preconditions. This even goes for leaders of friendly countries. Nobody wants to be surprised by a request or statement. Obama may not understand this, but when he promises to meet with the Iranians, Cubans or N. Korean - w/o preconditions – he is extending to them privileges we do not give to nor expect to get from our friends.

A second reason is relative value. Obama says that we need to dissipate the notion that the U.S. president is better than some other leaders. In fact, he is better. The leaders of Cuba, Iran or N. Korea are not the equals of the American president. For one thing, the American president has more other world leaders trying to meet him. His meeting time is more valuable than Castro’s, Hugo’s or Kim’s. The American president cannot let himself be at the disposal of leaders of lesser countries just because they are aggressive. After all if you look at it from the point of view of really representing people, the president of Lithuania or Estonia is a much more important leader than the dictator of Cuba or N. Korean.

Proxies and professionals carry out most negations. Beyond that, not all negotiations require anybody talking at all. Silence or actions might speak louder than words. The U.S. has been in negotiations with the N. Koreans, Cubans or Iranians for many years. The president of the United States very well may not be the appropriate negotiator. When you buy a Microsoft product you don’t expect Bill Gates to come out to close the deal. It is silly for the big leaders to get involved in too many negotiations. It gives away their authority and limits their options.

Any good negotiator knows that it is a good idea to have a “resort to higher authority.” You can say, “I would sure like to close the deal, but I have to get approval from…” The president IS the higher authority. He closes his country’s options when he shows up.

Finally, let me come back to the appeasement question. Obama has not advocated appeasement, which requires giving up something of value in the hopes of blunting aggression. Neville Chamberlain gave Hitler parts of Czechoslovakia. Obama has done nothing like this, but his naive attitude toward summit negotiations might lead to this sort of outcome.

Consider Chamberlain’s situation. He went to meet Hitler - leader to leader. There was strong pressure to show results and Chamberlain wanted to preserve peace at almost any cost. He also understood that Germany had been badly treated by the Allies after WWII and thought that there was some justification for Hitler’s demands. He came back with very firm agreements from Herr Hitler and had established “Peace for our time.” In 1938 it seemed a good idea to most “informed opinion.”

Chamberlain was a smart guy with good intentions, but he got whipped. This is the kind of thing that can happen when a leader of a democracy meets with an aggressive dictator. That is why we need to avoid letting our leaders get in those kinds of situations w/o preconditions. Putting so much into a meeting w/o preconditions often leads to concessions ... appeasement. Barck Obama may want to pay attention, maybe take a course in this part of history.

Posted by Jack at May 19, 2008 10:46 PM
Comments
Comment #253160

Jack,

Frankly, I’d like to have someone who is willing to do the diplomacy dance. I’d rather have that than someone who reaches for our military before giving any type of diplomacy a chance.

Posted by: Donna at May 19, 2008 11:15 PM
Comment #253162

Donna

You are missing the point. We are constantly doing the “diplomacy dance”. Obama proposes cutting it short and going right to the big risk game. It shows his inexperience. If a telemarketer calls you on the phone, do you feel it appropriate to immediately go to their offices to negotiate a deal?

There is a long continuum in negotiation and diplomacy. Obama should understand this. Unless he does, he is not ready to be president.

BTW - Obama also said he would reach for out military to attack Al Queda in Pakistan w/o the approval of Pakistan, so if you want someone who will not go to that option, Obama is not your man. He just does not understand the new world he is going to be in.

Posted by: Jack at May 19, 2008 11:24 PM
Comment #253163

Donna:

When you negotiate Obama’s way you are starting behind. The very fact that the President is at the table concedes two huge advantages to the terrorist.

1. the terrorist gets status as working with the President as a equal.

2. The terrorist gains time, as they know the US will not likely attack while talking.

Obama’s way of negotiating simply is not done in diplomacy.

Instead, we negotiate at lower levels, and use a Presidential sit down as a reward. That way it is equal. After terrorists make concessions, THEN the President will finish the negotiations.

It is Obama’s desire to set no preconditions that is showing his inexperience.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 19, 2008 11:39 PM
Comment #253164

Jack:

I think Europe is a great example to learn from with Iraq.

We should ask which World War concluded the best way? If America had left troops on the ground after WWI would WWII even occur?

I like the WWII model much better as over much time, Europe was able to solve it’s problems without another war.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the middle east formed something like the EU in 50 years?

It may take another war or two for the environment to be like the end of WWII instead of WWI.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 19, 2008 11:42 PM
Comment #253165

What is the subtext underlying all this talk of “appeasement”? After all, no one is suggesting the United States of America cede territory in an effort to halt some aggressor. No one is suggesting the US offer North Dakota to Al Qaida in exchange for Osama bin Laden promising not to attack. So why in the world should there be all this odd talk about “appeasement”?

It’s not about the United States offering territory to an opponent. It’s about Israel offering to return conquered territory to its opponents in exchange for peace.

We just witnessed the President of the United States deliver a speech in the Israeli Knesset denouncing “appeasement.” The subtext is clear. Bush will continue providing Israel with unqualified support, no matter how hard the Saudis turn the screws of oil prices.

McCain makes it clear, once again, that his administration would continue BushCo policies. Anyone who is happy with the situation of the United States today should definitely, absolutely vote for McCain.

Obama extends the possibility of negotiations between Arabs and Israelis. This is anathema to Israel’s Olmert and other hawks as well as to NeoCons like Bush and McCain. They have an agenda for the security of Israel and US possession of the Middle Eastern oil, and this does not involve negotiations.

Curiously, the United States negotiations and appeasement- and let us be clear, it is appeasement- of Sunni Iraqi nationalists receives no notice. Snort. There are so many lies and so much disinformation flying around, it’s hard to tell the appeasers apart from the negotiators.

Posted by: phx8 at May 19, 2008 11:50 PM
Comment #253167

Phx8

McCain opposed the Bush policy in Iraq until Bush came around to the sort of policy McCain advocated. This happened at the start of 2007 and has been a astonishing success. I only wish Bush had listened earlier.

Meanwhile the Dems are staying the course, evidently unable to understand the big changes that were made in policy. Some Dems were invested in defeat and they are embarassed to be caught.

Re appeasement, maybe Obama missed that class at school. When Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler, he didn’t give up any territory controlled or even claimed by Britain. He simply gave Hitler a free hand in Czechoslavakia. Maybe that is Obama’s problem. He just doesn’t understand the idea of appeasement, so he doesn’t know when he is doing it.

Posted by: Jack at May 20, 2008 12:13 AM
Comment #253168

Jack,
US policy in Iraq is to appease the nationalist Sunni Iraqis. Care to deny it? By the way, I’m fine with the policy of negotiating and even appeasing the nationalist Sunnis, although providing them with anything more than small arms is probably a bad idea.

Are you suggesting the US is winning in Iraq? Just checking. McCain threw out the year 2013. Is McCain wrong? No one is even talking about the disposition of Kirkuk, which is arguably the biggest single source of conflict, and has not been addressed in any way whatsoever. The fun hasn’t even begun…

It’s kind of weird. No one will even address the subject of Israel, even though Bush delivered the speech in the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel. Bush followed the speech with a trip to Saudi Arabia begging for more oil. And no one has a word to say about it, other than some silly observations about Obama and McCain and whether they’d theoretically be appeasers. It gets even weirder, because there seems to be some sort of assumption that Iran is the country being appeased.

Heavens forbid we discuss the Israelis or Saudis. Guess AIPAC and BushCo/McSame have determined it’s not allowed.

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 12:51 AM
Comment #253171

Jack,
With a political strategy of showing your enemy that you are willing to sacrifice your own and break the Principles and Standards of Ouir Forefathers and Ancestors in a failed attempt to score political points I have to wonder whom is appeasing whom.

For why I am sure Obama and his supporters can speak for themselves. Being who I am I wish the Leaders of America would let me set down with the President of Iran. Because why I would have to plead “A Fifth” on the subject of Appeasement, I do know that nowhere is it written, spoken, or implied that any nation has the Unalienable Right to use WMDs outside their Airspace and Land.

So, as an Independent Pundit I wonder if McCain would like to comment on how it can be said that the President Speech Writers and Staff Members aided the enemy at a time of war.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 20, 2008 1:29 AM
Comment #253172

Obama is a brilliant man and he is clearly going to base his decisions on input from the best of experts. That’s way better then a president who prays in the rose garden and comes up with the decision to BOMB AWAY… resulting in 3 million refugees, 1 million dead ect….

Incredible talk today by Mike Scheurer on It’s Your World, explaining just how unsophisticated the average Americans view is of the Islamist threat. And most of it is a result of the administration and the news media’s propaganda pushing fear of “Islamofascist”.

His main point was that the meme of they hate us for who we are is completely wrong as mostly they hate us for what we do. Understanding the position of the terrorist is the first step to resolving issues. And it has nothing to do with appeasement.

Posted by: muirgeo at May 20, 2008 2:43 AM
Comment #253173

muirgeo…do you have a link for that story? Sounds interesting.

Most of what I know of “Islamofascist” comes from history. In that they have a long history of killing Christians, and vice-versa for that matter. Way before Bush came into office…like many, many centuries. They choose this war.

They hate us for what we do huh? Funny because I don’t hate them for what they do. Some of what they do irkes me, but nah I’d have rather not killed one until they choose this route. As a liberal I guess you can find a way to admire this form of protest. As a Christian and an American, I don’t…at all.

Posted by: andy at May 20, 2008 3:16 AM
Comment #253174

Jack,

I’m glad you brought up Chamberlain, but I’m curious. You clearly feel Chamberlain made a mistake. What were his options? What should he have done? How would your option have prevented WWII?

Britian did not have the resources to mobilize and resist Hitler in Europe. The US was pacifist. The was no Nato. The photo ops with his agreement were not well thought out, but what exactly were his options?

Posted by: googlumpugus at May 20, 2008 3:24 AM
Comment #253175

andy,

Most of what I know of “Islamofascist” comes from history

Considering that word dates, at most, back to the 1990’s what history are you speaking of? In case you didn’t know, US, Christian, and Islamic history predates 1990 a little.

Posted by: googlumpugus at May 20, 2008 3:30 AM
Comment #253176

We are not appeasing the Sunni Iraqi Arabs. We are working with them as partners. Partnerships are always give and take.

Re winning in Iraq – I prefer to use the word success. We have won the war and are now trying to secure a successful peace. Yes, we are absolutely making progress and enjoying success. I don’t think there is a very successing, but that is what I would say we are clearly doing. If you want to use the word winning, I would not object.

I believe by 2013 it will be clear that we have achieved success and most U.S. troops will be home. There will not come a Battleship Missouri moment, however. McCain is right.

Henry

I don’t understand your point.

Muirego

Actually most do not hate us at all. They are generally indifferent. They do not like what they perceive to be some of our policies, but they often do not know what those policies actually are. Many religious conservatives dislike the Western notions of freedom. Osama bin Laden and his boy are still POed about Spain and 1492. In short, Muslim opinion is just as misinformed as opinion everywhere else. They do seem to understand facts on the ground. Hence very less trouble from the “Arab Street” since around 2002.

Re terrorists hating us, I suppose they do. Mostly, however, their hate is instrumental. They want to achieve certain political and social goals and they see that we stand in their way. I suppose you could say it is because of what we do. But short of giving in to all their demands, such as letting them have the whole Middle East and putting our own laws under Islamic laws wherever large numbers of Muslims live, we probably cannot stop doing what we are doing.

Obama is a brilliant man. BTW – so was Carter and so was Nixon. He is not accustomed to international affairs. Maybe he can learn. He is not demonstrating understand now.

Googlumpus

Chamberlain’s options were indeed limited by the pacifist sentiment in his own country and throughout the Western world. He postponed the war by a little more than a year and you could argue that gave Britain & France time to prepare. They did not use that time wisely, if that was the goal.

On the other hand, Germany was clearly more powerful in September 1939. The annexation of Czechoslovakia took away a potential vulnerably and gave them the use of Czech industrial strength. W/o the Czech border secure, Hitler could not have safely launched the invasion of Poland that started WWII.

As in all history, you can never be sure what woulda/coulda happened. We know that Chamberlain postponed war for a short time during which his adversary became significantly stronger while his own strength increased very little.

Of course, they could have given up entirely to Hitler and avoided war at the price of slavery. I don’t think that is a good idea, but then I am very fond of liberty. Appeasers might prefer peace at any cost. I think the phrase was “peace for our time”.

Posted by: Jack at May 20, 2008 4:39 AM
Comment #253177

googlumpugus…thanks because, in all honesty, I had no idea in what year that term was first used. But I’m not sure why you shared that tidbit of information with me.
I think we are on the same page though. It’s been going on with, whatever term they called them then, since before Columbus was a twinkle in his parents eye’s.

Posted by: andy at May 20, 2008 4:43 AM
Comment #253178

Jack,

It has been suggested, here at watchblog, and elsewhere, by folks less sophisticated, that any talks with those we consider to be terrorists, would be appeasement.
I would not suggest for a minute that the President himself, should sit down and negotiate, and I am quite sure that this isn’t what Obama meant with his comments.

I, for one, know who you are, and what you do, and we both know that any time the President sits down at the negotiating table it is merely for a photo op, and the hard work has already been done.

We both also know that any time the President says “we do not negotiate with terrorists” it is merely hyperbole to placate the stiffs here at home.

Now that said, it seems by his recent comments McCain doesn’t think we have achieved victory in Iraq, and we are just mopping up.
You say that McCain disagreed with the President’s claim of “mission accomplished”, and of his strategy in Iraq for the four years after that statement. Yet McCain now tells us he thinks that, if he is elected, we will be victorious by the end of his first term.

So which is it?

Posted by: Rocky at May 20, 2008 6:08 AM
Comment #253179

What happens to a guy like Obama is he gets into negotiations with some tin pot dictator are abuser of human rights and suddenly he HAS to show success when he walks away from the negotiations. And bingo, suddenly he is passing out the favors to people who should be getting no favors. And that’s where the weakness of an Obama and far left “progressive” view come into play.

Posted by: StephenL at May 20, 2008 8:05 AM
Comment #253180

Rocky

Obama says he will meet with these despots and terror supporters w/o precognitions. Some of his more experienced allies, such as Joe Biden, have tried to climb him down from this position, but so far Obama himself has refused to make the sensible statement you suggest. Perhaps he is too embarrassed. That is understandable, but it also shows his inexperience.

I think we will be “victorious” by 2013. I think we are mostly victorious already. The new strategy is achieving astonishing results. I do have a problem with the word victory if people expect a WWII style ending with a parade and kisses on Time Square. This victory is working in slow motion, just like the war itself did. At some point we will realize that Iraq is reasonably democratic, stable and not a threat. Exactly when we get there will be a subject for some debate and there will be occasional backsliding.

It is like a kid growing up. At what point does the boy become a man? We give arbitrary dates, but what really happens is that one day you notice that a man has taken the place of the boy, although sometimes the boy makes an appearance even with old men.

Steven L

You make a good point. I think that helps explain some of the Obama inexperience He is used to working as a community organizer. In those cases, he was the challenger. Just getting the powers to meet with his groups was a victory. He doesn’t understand that meetings are no longer the measure of success.

In his exerience, Obama was the one using the meeting to gain exposure and concessions. Now he will be representing the U.S. and he still is not comfortable with that.

Posted by: Jack at May 20, 2008 8:19 AM
Comment #253182

Jack, your pro appeasement view of history doesn’t hit the mark.

Hittler built up his military in violation of the WWI peace agreement over a period of MANY YEARS. Chamberlin could have confronted Germany with France at any time and they would have been forced to back down because they didn’t have the military to face down the west.

It was the appeasement crowd like Chamberlin who were cowed by Hittler and give him the years he needed to consolidate his base and build his military to the point that the west could not face it down.

I suggest you read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. All the fall of the france’s third republic is a good read.

The west followed an Obama/progressive liberal approach and it was all but destroyed. That is the hated appeasement of the far left which to this day they still proffer as “enlightenment” and “wisdom”.

Posted by: Stephen at May 20, 2008 9:25 AM
Comment #253190

Jack

Okay, Barack. I understand you are new at this international diplomacy thing, so let’s think about it. Why is it a dumb idea to promise to talk to sponsors of terrorism w/o preconditions? Let me count the ways.

Okay, Jack. I think the above statement reflects exactly what is wrong with politics and diplomacy today. I just can’t get past the stench of superiority in your words.

One- If you were a US Senator, how are you going to respond to someone talking down to you like this?

Two, you are being awfully presumptuous. You presume that Obama, because he is willing to talk with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, etc , is eager to make concessions. Your above statement makes it seem that a willingness to show good faith and an effort to listen should always be considered the wrong choice. It seems you feel that our current bully in response to terror is much better. I personally disagree. I won’t tell you I know what Obama is thinking or going to do in the future. I will tell you this, from my own personal experience.

Some people feel like the whole world is against them. They are prejudice against others, and assume they know that other people are horrible, and selfish. Their attitude towards others is a self fulfilling prophecy. Most people do not have the patience or courage to hear these people out, because they are immediately turned off.

If Obama becomes president, let him sit down with these people. He wants to try this approach. To me, a chance to express one’s self to someone with no strings attached is a very important thing. Think of this not as politics but human psychology.

Posted by: Jason Ziegler at May 20, 2008 10:11 AM
Comment #253191

Andy,

Michael Scheuer was talking for the World Affairs Council on NPR. The site is here http://www.itsyourworld.org/wac/Default.asp but the talk is not available just yet but will be for a price.


Here is a discussion of his on Real Time with Bill Maher.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF4_oaTIH8g&feature=related

Posted by: muirgeo at May 20, 2008 10:13 AM
Comment #253192

As a liberal I guess you can find a way to admire this form of protest. As a Christian and an American, I don’t…at all.

Posted by: andy at May 20, 2008 03:16 AM


Andy, the American Revolutionaries where described as terrorist by the the King of England.

To understand the terrorist you need to go back to the formation of Israel and things like the placement of the Shah of Iran and ask yourself how you and your fellow countrymen would respond if the tables were turned. That’s not a justification for terrorism but it is an explanation of how they’ve come to their positions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldgbOxDX6DE

Posted by: muirgeo at May 20, 2008 10:22 AM
Comment #253195

Jack,

Your post is dripping with condescension, but why take the option of meeting with anyone, which is the cornerstone of diplmacy, off the table? To me, promising not to meet with anyone takes a potentially valuable option out of the equation, needlessly. I can’t think of a reason to do it other than political posturing.

Roosevelt also wanted to negotiate with Hitler. Not because Roosevelt was a fool, but because he believed the best defense was a good offense. His open letter to Hitler asking him not to invade any more sovereign nations, and Hitler’s negative response, made clear that Hitler was a madman.

In many cases, rogue governments and or terrorist organizations have been neutered diplomatically. You can see some of that happening with Hezbollah now. If they want to be taken seriously they need to play by the rules. Just today, Hezbollah rebuffed Al Qaeda’s claim that they were Palestine’s best friend. They knew if they didn’t they would lose their seat at the table.

Sometimes these rogue governments are more dangerous when they feel they have nothing to lose. Sometimes they are just looking for attention. A lack of diplomacy is what has led us into our dangerous situation with Iran and North Korea.

Posted by: Max at May 20, 2008 11:13 AM
Comment #253197

The parallels between Iran today and Nazi Germany in the 1930s are interesting. Like Germany, Iran has been building its military and arsenals since it fought Iraq in the 1980s. That war, in a sense, was similar to World War I in that each side suffered huge casualties and the war ended in a virtual stalemate. While Iraq under Saddam Hussein continued to be a Middle Eastern troublemaker, Hussein represented the greatest threat to Iran and after he was finally displaced, Iran has emerged as the big dog on the block.

Also like Germany, Iran has built allies with like-thinkers, such as the Baathist Bashar al-Assad, who funnels Iran money and supplies to Hezbollah, which has direct ties to Iran. Iran uses these ties and influences to undermine the authority of other Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

Like Germany, Iran is virulently anti-Semitic — the stated goal of its government is the elimination of the state of Israel. Its leadership brings in the likes of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and other krypto-Nazis for “seminars” on the myth of the Holocaust. The size of its development of its nuclear facilities — being constructed against multiple decisions by the United Nations — parallels Nazi Germany’s military buildup in the 1930s in clear, but toothless, violation of the League of Nations and Versailles Treaty.

For Barack Obama to belittle the threat of Iran by comparing it to the former Soviet Union should cause most intelligent people to consider the consequences of him assuming the presidency. Sure, the U.S. negotiates with North Korea and Venezuela, but it does so under the auspices of diplomatic agendas — not as a U.S. president unilaterally engaging with the dictators of those nations. As should have clearly been obvious during his foray at Columbia University several months ago, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad plays loose and fast with the facts and freely engages in telling the “Big Lie,” just like Hitler. For Obama to sit down with that man and expect to produce good results makes about as must sense as former President Carter sitting down with Hamas and expecting to achieve Mideast peace. Ain’t going to happen!

Iran may not have the capacity to blow up the U.S. — at least not at this point — but to assume that Iran is not a viable threat to the U.S. is a horrific mistake. Iran has the resources and the means (and motive) to make life extremely bad for the U.S., regardless of the ultimate outcome of the conflict. Anyone engaging in diplomatic relations with a country such as Iran had better go into it with clear-eyed focus and realistic expectations — both of which Obama at this point clearly lacks.

Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 11:35 AM
Comment #253199

Goombah,

++For Barack Obama to belittle the threat of Iran by comparing it to the former Soviet Union should cause most intelligent people to consider the consequences of him assuming the presidency.++

and

++Iran may not have the capacity to blow up the U.S. — at least not at this point — but to assume that Iran is not a viable threat to the U.S. is a horrific mistake.++

He never belittled Iran’s threat. He said it isn’t the same caliber of threat as the USSR was. And he’s right, it isn’t. If in the future it is, fine. But for now, it’s not even close.

Posted by: Melissa at May 20, 2008 12:10 PM
Comment #253200

As for “appeasement.” Barack Obama has already guaranteed that he will do as much if he is elected — he has vowed to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq immediately, whether or not that nation is stabilized enough to handle such a move. Obama fails to realize the strategic opportunity of a strong, stable Iraq — such a nation would provide a serious hedge against Iranian aggression in the region. As an example of its effectiveness, al-Sadyr, hiding out with his mentors in Iran, is trying to disarm his Mahdi Militia in the light of the pounding it has received by the Iraqi and American militaries. The Iraqi government is neither politically nor militarily strong enough at this time to withstand a full-blown attack by Iran; but that in itself not the point.

Iran is unlikely to engage in active warfare at this point, preferring instead to engage in surrogate warfare; i.e., warfare incorporating Hezbollah against the Christian-Sunni coalition in Lebanon and against Israel, Hamas against Israel, anti-Iraqi government forces by Shiite militias and insurgents, and al-Qaeda operatives against moderate Arab states and the United States and Europe. Whether one agrees with the war in Iraq or not, the removal of U.S. troops at this time is tantamount of surrender, as far as our enemies are concerned. With the total lack of actual military support from our NATO “allies,” Iraq would have no one to help it defend itself without a strong U.S. presence.

That Obama alleges that he would maintain U.S. troops in neighboring countries such as Kuwait demonstrates his lack of perspective and judgment. Having U.S. troops stationed in Japan proved no deterrent to North Korea or China in 1950; similarly, removing our troops from Iraq would open a major opportunity for Iran, which it would no doubt seize.

As a result, Obama’s “appeasement” — the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq — would make his assertion that he would sit down to negotiate with Ahmadinejad specious, to say the least! By that point, for what would Obama negotiate? Allowing U.S. troops to remain in Kuwait?

Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 12:17 PM
Comment #253201

Ooops! I meant Iraqi government forces … not anti-Iraqi government forces.

Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 12:22 PM
Comment #253204

Goombah,
You write: “The parallels between Iran today and Nazi Germany in the 1930s are interesting. Like Germany, Iran has been building its military and arsenals since it fought Iraq in the 1980s.”

That is true of most countries in the world, especially the United States. While Iran has not invaded any other country, the United States has spent as much on “defense” as the rest of the world combined, and has invaded two countries in less than seven years.

You write: “Also like Germany, Iran has built allies with like-thinkers, such as the Baathist Bashar al-Assad, who funnels Iran money and supplies to Hezbollah, which has direct ties to Iran. Iran uses these ties and influences to undermine the authority of other Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.”

Why wouldn’t Iran have ties to other Shia political groups in the Middle East? There is nothing sinister about it. I have never heard of Iran doing anything to “undermine the authority” of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. If that statement cannot be documented, I will have to assume it is just made up.

You write: “The size of its development of its nuclear facilities — being constructed against multiple decisions by the United Nations — parallels Nazi Germany’s military buildup in the 1930s…”

What! You’re comparing the Iranian nuclear program, which according to US intelligence may not even be building a bomb, with the build-up of Nazi Germany?! That’s outrageous! Godwin must be turning in his grave! Where do you come up with this stuff?

You write: “For Obama to sit down with that man and expect to produce good results makes about as must sense as former President Carter sitting down with Hamas and expecting to achieve Mideast peace. Ain’t going to happen!”

Pardon me for introducing facts and history into the discussion, but Jimmy Carter negotiated the Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt. In exchange for territory, Israel and Egypt reached a peace agreement which has endured to this day. It has been the most successful piece of diplomacy in the Middle East.


Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 12:35 PM
Comment #253207

phx8

al-Qaeda’s stated goal is to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and Iran definitely supports al-Qaeda. Hezbollah and Hamas both pose a serious threat to regimes in Egypt and Jordan, which do not support either terrorist group. As for nothing being sinister about ties between Iran and Syria, where have you been in the last few months? Hezbollah, which receives support directly from Syria, launched rocket attacks on Israel, forcing that country to retaliate, and is now creating a rift in Lebanon to the brink of another civil war. I’d certainly call that sinister and all you have to do is to read about foreign affairs to understand that. Like I made that up!

As for Iran’s nuclear program, that country has defied the U.N. regulatory agency repeatedly and is contructing the devices necessary to produce weapon-grade plutonium on a dangerously massive scale. Outrageous? Think about it — a country whose stated goal is the annihilation of Israel, the avowed enemy of the U.S., a rogue nation in the Middle East producing weapon-grade plutonium. Gee, wonder what Iran will do with all that plutonium?

Finally, Jimmy Carter. Yes, he negotiated the Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt, but he did so through the diplomatic channels of those three nations — all of which saw such an agreement in each of their interests. Peace with Israel is not in the interest of Hamas — a terrorist group. Saddat was the president of Egypt and that country’s legitimate representative. Begin was Israel’s prime minister and Carter the American president. This was not a unilateral thing like Carter’s exploits of recent months.

Also, if you want Obama to base his foreign experience upon the example of Carter, you present a dismal scenario: Remember the hostage crisis in Teheran, Iran and Carter’s failed efforts to resolve it? Carter learned the presidency on the job too, just like Obama might.

Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 1:01 PM
Comment #253208

Andy,

My point was Islamofacist is a modern term, created by the west to describe people like Bin Laden.

The Islamic Caliphs of the middle ages might be described thus, though they were fighting “Christofacists” in their time, who invaded.

Their time was short lived. The Ottomans quickly rose and dominated the middleeast.

Muriegos point was that this kind of shallow and Christian based analysis is phoney. I don’t think were on the same page at all.

Posted by: googlumpugus at May 20, 2008 1:09 PM
Comment #253211

Craig Holmes In 50 years the middle east will own the EU they are gradually taking over now. No need to create one, they are presently conquering it through legal and illegal immigration and raw birthrates while the west falls into decline and no longer has a birth rate to sustain themselves.

And to get the EU first you had to defeat a brutal dictator who had conquered by force the bulk of Europe.

Posted by: StephenL at May 20, 2008 1:19 PM
Comment #253212

goombah,

“Also, if you want Obama to base his foreign experience upon the example of Carter, you present a dismal scenario: Remember the hostage crisis in Teheran, Iran and Carter’s failed efforts to resolve it? Carter learned the presidency on the job too, just like Obama might.”

Not that I think Carter had the best foreign policy, but the Hostage Crisis in Iran had to do with Carter giving the Shah refuge as a dying man, and thirty years of intervention by the US in Iran’s politics. Carter did resolve the Hostage crisis without a single dead hostage.(Algiers accords). If you are refering to the release of the hostages on the inauguration of Reagan, I’ll remind you of Iran-Contra (the illegal trade of arms for money with Iran to illegally fund the illegal Contra execution squads) and Reagan’s appeasment of the Ayatollah. Many still believe he cut this deal before his inauguration, to prevent Carter’s “October Surprise”. If you are giving Reagan credit, I must assume you believe he acted illegally, before his presidency. I’ll also remind you of Reagan’s retreat from Lebanon after the killing of the marines. While probably a wise move, putting the marines in harm’s way was really, really stupid.

Sometimes Reaganzombies forget actual history but, I understand. It’s hard to face reality.

Posted by: googlumpugus at May 20, 2008 1:30 PM
Comment #253213

Appeasement is what we were doing with Saddam Hussein before the first Gulf war. He was appeased enough to invade Kuwait. Bush went to war for their oil fields, and to protect the Saudi oil fields. We left Saddam in power, and the sanctions regime started. This grew unpopular internationally, and another Bush put our troops and the private contractors back in there, and we conquered and are now occupying the country. People want to keep our forces there with no lines drawn on the map, as in Korea and Germany. It’s more like Vietnam, where they drew a line, but it never worked, because people just walked around it.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 20, 2008 1:38 PM
Comment #253214

Jack,
Knowing President Bush is not the brightest leader we have ever had, I would like to hear Senator McCain and the rest of the Republican Pundits explain why the speech writers and staff members used the comments of a 1939 Republican Senator to violate the long standing Principles and Standards of Our Forefathers and Ancestors.

For as you know I do not adhear to the Status Quo and for me to be able to answer President Bush and his supporters (ie McCain & Co.)off the top of my head could be taken by some as aiding the enemy in a time of war. So why I will concede that the Intent of the High School Stunt was to spark political debate as an American Layman, the fact still remains that Americas’ Enemy can use those words to embolden their followers into supporting violence against Our Democratic and Republican Government and Society.

In fact, I do believe that you would even disagree as a Father that such a jump nade by the Republican Pundit on Chris Mathews Hardball did more in a few minutes to drive home the point that the current Republican Leadership of the Establishment is standing in the middle of the Creek of Faith than all the words of the Ages.

So, why I do wait with eyes wide open for Senator Obama and Co. to accept Senator McCain Debating the Issue. Entitled to My Personal Opinion on the subject, it would take me setting down with you and others with a fifth of wiskey to say what I want to say.

However, knowing that the current President of Iran has the Love of the Law already on record. I do believe that under the Proper Politically Correct Preperations Our new President and Congress that we will elect can show the Community Elders and Powers-that-Be of Iran as well as their Citizens that building Nucular Anything places their Civil, Political, and Religious Leaders in the same middle of the Creek that President Bush stands in.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 20, 2008 1:44 PM
Comment #253216

Googlumpugus

(Great handle, by the way)

The Iran Hostage Crisis was not Carter’s fault at its start, so I stand corrected. I would remind you, however, that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Mariel Boat Lift from Cuba also occurred on Carter’s watch — both of which hastened the end of his presidency.

As far as Carter’s actions today, even Obama shows the good sense to reject his unilateral actions; actions that legitimize thugs like Hamas and Hezbollah, alienate Israel, and show Carter to be nothing more than a self-aggrandizing fool.

As for Reagan — I agree with you. Putting the Marines into Lebanon, letting them get blown up, then pulling them out made no sense to me then and makes no sense to me now. Stupid? No argument from me there. And his arms for hostages exchange was illegal and dangerous as well. You forgot to mention Ollie North and the Sandinistas.

I am not a Reaganzombie (if I were a zombie, would I even know it?!!) and I study history with a passion. Members of both American political parties are guilty of horrific mistakes and are due recogition of noble and honorable actions.

Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 1:52 PM
Comment #253218

phx8:

I do think it is useful to compare Nazi Germany with are situtation in Iran.

The leader of Iran is clearly threatening Israel.

Appeasement is clearly not to strong a word for Obama.

What else would one call it?

He is calling for complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, and is promising talks without condtions.

Actually why would Iran care to talk? What is there left to discus? Our surrender? Is Obama going to promise to not reinvade is Israel is attacked?

Take the two leaders at face value of what they are saying.

1. Iran - we are going to destroy Israel.

2. Obama - we are going to completely withdraw from Iraq.

3. Obama - I personally am going to talk with Iran without ANY conditions.

4. Obama - Anyone who criticizes me is just trying to scare you.

The terrorists just need to hear the great level of Obama’s rhetoric and they will be convinced!!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 20, 2008 2:03 PM
Comment #253223

Goombah,
Iran and Al Qaida do not work together. Just the opposite. Al Qaida is a Sunni organization, both the Al Qaida of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida in Iraq. Al Qaida in Iraq targets Shias.

In Afganistan, the Pakistani intellilgence service, ISI, is a primarily Sunni organization which supports the Taliban. The Iranians have their own allies in Afganistan. The Iranians compete for spheres of influence against the Sunni fundamentalists.

Look, it’s reasonable to recognize the US and Iran have bad relations. There is a long, long history behind the bad relationship, and plenty of fault to go around. However, it is a relationship which can be mended through diplomacy, and improved through mutual respect and eventually perhaps even friendship, through the exposure to… let’s just call it globalization, for now. Anyway, exposure will eventually bring democracy and modernity to Iran, because a fundamentalist regime cannot compete with what is being offered by integration with the international economy & culture.

Culturally & politically, the Iranians will not be able to stand our close embrace. To resort to threats and talk of war is beyond foolish. To confuse the Shias and Sunnis is even worse. They are different religions, controlling different countries, often made up of different ethnic groups, with different & often competing political agendas.

Shias and Sunnis do agree upon Israel. However, Israel is a nation with nuclear arms, and Israel can take care of itself. The philosophy of a Jewish State, or for that matter, a Christian State or Islamic State, is not consistent with American principles, because freedom and liberty thrive with the separation of church and state. It is certainly understandable, after the Holocaust, that some Jewish people would feel only a nation-state could protect them, and make sure “never again” is guaranteed. But their current choices are their own, and those choices were made at the direct expense of the Palestinians. The Israelis have made their bed. They felt they had to make it. That was their choice. It belongs to them, not us, and they are responsible for the consequences of their choices…

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 2:17 PM
Comment #253225

phx8:

But their current choices are their own, and those choices were made at the direct expense of the Palestinians. The Israelis have made their bed. They felt they had to make it. That was their choice. It belongs to them, not us, and they are responsible for the consequences of their choices…

Let the slaughter begin!!

A far far better approach to me would be to take troop withdrawal from Iraq off the table. Leave our troops there. Then use diplomacy and use our troop withdrawal as a bargaining chip.

Obama doesn’t think that way. His plan is to give away the negotiating points ahead of time, and then talk. There is no purpose to the talks with Obama. What is left?

In terms of negotiating position, McCain is in a far far far superior position if he is President.

Obama has surrendered three positions already as of today. Our troop withdrawal, status of talking with the president and time. Obama would begin with a very very weak hand.

Obama’s great negotiating position will be “Speak eloquently, and carry no stick” instead of “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

The difference between Obama and McCain is that Obama believes he can negotiate from a position of self imposed weakness, and McCain would prefer to negotiate from a position of strength.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 20, 2008 2:33 PM
Comment #253229

Craig,
“Let the slaughter begin.”

Well, Craig, the obvious solution is to allow the Palestian refugees to return, and for the Israelis and Palestinians to create a secular democracy.

I am for that. It is the only fair and just solution. I am not interested in helping either side mistreat the other.

So the new reason for the US to occupy Iraq is as a bargaining chip in negotiating with Iran? Because Iran… what?… owes us something?

Negotiating from a position of strength? Do you really think the only way America can be strong is through its military? You know there are other ways of being strong, and if the idea is to find solutions, the military should be a last choice, NOT a first choice.

We never learn.

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 2:51 PM
Comment #253233

phx8

In a perfect world Israel and the Palestinians would live together in harmony and democracy; but as long as Hamas holds power in Palestine, that will never happen, no matter who is president. A “fair and just solution” is NOT what Hamas desires — it desires the destruction of Israel, which, by the way, so does Iran.

As I stated earlier, U.S. presence in Iraq and a strong, pro-American Iraqi government acts as a hedge against Iranian intervention, which would certainly not benefit the Sunnis or Kurds there in the least. As I said, Iran prefers to use surogates to do its dirty work and provides them with the means (i.e. guns and explosives) to do it. This is a fact uncovered repeatedly in Iraq and Lebanon. Despite being a Shiite theocracy, Iran has close relations with Syria — a predominately Sunni state — and has harbored al-Qaeda operatives in the past (Note: al-Qaeda has no trepidations about killing Sunnis who get in their way in Iraq or elsewhere). Iran is pragmatic enough to work with those it may dislike, such as Russia or Germany, to achieve its ends. It has even worked with a communist state, North Korea, while seeking nuclear arms.

This may come as a surprise to you, but the state of Israel is a secular democracy, based on the general European model. And Israel in the past has reached out to the Palestinians and continues to do so. Remember when Clinton almost achieved a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians until Arafat rejected it and agreement fell apart? Quite understandably Israel will no negotiate with Hamas, which continues to lob rockets into Israel and would send in more suicide bombers if it could.

Israel is not responsible for the actions of Hamas and Hezbollah — Iran is. Israel is the one that is being attacked, let’s get that straight.

Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 3:34 PM
Comment #253238

I think the reaction to w’s speech to the Knesset is less about him accusing members of the opposing party of appeasement in a speech to a foreign government and more outrage by just about every thinking person that he would be lecturing anybody about any aspect of foreign policy.
There has never been an American President who has so misjudged his enemies, overestimated his friends, and literally driven all of our diplomatic relationships right into the ground. The “decider” has RUINED our million man, trillion dollar military in a multi-year conflict with, what?, a force of perhaps twenty or thirty thousand insurgents? He has been Iran’s greatest friend. He opened up the Middle East to Iran’s influence, thus increasing the danger to Israel. Ironic, considering to whom he was giving this speech.
I am relieved that it will be a choice between McCain and Obama. Our relationship to the world can only get better with w gone.
I am disturbed that there are still so many, including many on this board, who seem unable to comprehend what a screw-up this man has been, some even suggesting that they would vote for him again were it possible! Poor intellects voted a man into office possessing a poor intellect. I understand why these same people would hate a man such as John McCain, too much of a thinker, I guess, and we can’t have that.

Posted by: charles ross at May 20, 2008 3:59 PM
Comment #253240

Goombah,
Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah will have to find a way to get along. I’d be glad to see the US do whatever it can to facilitate relations. I would be happy to see the US foot the bill for resettlement of the Palestinian refugees.

Getting along in a secular democracy means bringing Hamas and Hezbollah into the political process. Hamas has been elected to represent Palestinians. Hezbollah is one of two Shia parties elected to represent in Lebanon.

Until people in that part of the world stop identifying themselves by their religious (or ethnic) affiliation, which creates an ‘us versus them’ mentality, there will probably be conflict.

And Goombah, “this may come as a surprise to you,” but if you wanted to run for office in Israel on a platform advocating “secular democracy,” you would absolutely be forbidden from running. Israel is a Jewish State, and anyone advocating a platform of “secular democracy” would be barred by the state.

“Israel is the one that is being attacked, let’s get that straight.”

I disagree. It seems to me Neocon propaganda is accepted and repeated without critical examination by many conservatives.

For example: prove the Iranians are arming Iraqis. The charge has been repeated by Neocons many times. It should be easy to prove, right? But show me the proof.

Of course, you’ll be looking a long time, because it has never been proved. It is a perfect example of manufactured propaganda which is being used to whip up war fever in the US.

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 4:23 PM
Comment #253241

Phx8:

Negotiating from a position of strength? Do you really think the only way America can be strong is through its military?

When a country is threatening to destroy an ally militarily of ours, yes. Absolutely yes, that is the way to be strong. A thousand times yes.

Without miltary strength, Europe would have been dominated first by the Germans, then by the Soviet Union.

Of course there are other ways to be strong. But in this case when the leader of the country is threatening to wipe an ally off the face of the earth, military strength is the way to be strong.

We negotiate with the US military standing behind us.

You are correct that we never learn.

Remember the words “peace through strength?”

Let me ask you this. Do you really think Obama can negotiate a bargain by giving up the bargaining chips before the negotiations begin with the leadership of Iran?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 20, 2008 4:25 PM
Comment #253242

Stephen

You misunderstand me. I was simply answering Googlumpus’ question re Chamberlain in 1938 and if you notice I did not come down on his side. Yes, earlier courage on the part of the Allies could have stopped Hitler, but by 1938 they had squandered too many opportunities. That is the lesson of appeasement.

Jason

My advice to Barack is no more condescending than that I have heard you and others give to our president. And Barack certainly does have less experience in international affairs than I do.

I am just pointing out to the junior senator from Illinois that if he personally sits down – w/o conditions - with the leaders of states that sponsor terrorism or are just nasty in general he has already made concessions to them. Beyond that, the pressure to produce a result will be heightened by his presence at the table.

I was not the first to point to Barack’s silliness. That was Hillary Clinton and the fellow Democrats on her side. She isn’t always right, but this time she was.

Max

I am in favor of negotiating with everybody. There are two thing that make the Obama approach childish: his promise of meeting personally with various little despots AND w/o preconditions. Roosevelt would not and did not make such mistakes, although his insistence that he go personally and talk to Stalin at Yalta, despite his failing health, was stupid and contributed to the nasty postwar situation.

Googlumpus

The history of the Middle East did not start conveniently in 1095. Islamic armies took the Christian lands of the E. Roman Empire and lands rules by various Germanic Christian rulers by force. The Crusades were a kind of counter Jihad. If you start with a map of the Mediterranean in 620 and then compare it to subsequent maps every 100 years thereafter, you will clearly see the direction of the aggression.

The Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453. It has been founded as a Christian capital more than 1000 years before that and it had been predominantly Greek and western since prehistoric times. All this was wiped away by Turkish force of arms. The great church of Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and all those taking refuge there were slaughtered. It is not necessarily something to praise.

Henry

My guess is that Bush was referring to Obama’s proposed policy. Obama must have been feeling guilty, since he immediately recognized himself in that long dead senator, whose name was not even mentioned.

Re McCain explaining Bush’s speech. He has no obligation to do so. McCain and Bush have often disagreed, sometimes very strongly. Ask Bush, not McCain.

Phx8

Al Qaida in Iraq targets both Sunnis and Shias. Overall, they have probably killed more Sunnis because they are closer. AQI’s goal is chaos. They don’t really care who they kill to achieve it. That is why the Sunnis of Iraq, after initially welcoming Al Qaeda, have learned to hate them so profoundly.

Re Iran – I figure we will be friendly with Iran within a few, maybe ten, years. The current Mullah controlled state is cracking. They are becoming lackadaisical tyrants and those kinds cannot long hold onto power. We just have to get through the next couple of years.

Of course, a childish policy like Obama proposes might prolong their lives.


Posted by: jack at May 20, 2008 4:29 PM
Comment #253244

Goombah,
You say that “Israel is not responsible for the actions of Hamas and Hezbollah — Iran is.” However, in the eyes of Hamas, Hexbollah, and even Iran it is about some of the Elite of Society losing their Power over the Masses. So, in a manner America and Israeli is to blame for the Average Citizen wanting better for their Children. For why can Joe have a toy, but I am forbiden?

Yes, the Community Elders and Omars of the Middle East may have the same problem as Rev. Wright and Others of Society. Nevertheless, is not Peace by Force still Slavery? So, as an Adult how do you tell your children that regardless of what they believe in the Reality of Man you must learn to remain a Civilized Human. Because I know that they do not want to see what happens if you get “We the People” uncivilized.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 20, 2008 4:32 PM
Comment #253245

Phx8:

Obama has said that he is doing what Ronald Reagan did. Nothing could be further from the truth. When Reagan came to power he immediately began a military buildup. He increased defense spending. Then he started negotiating.

Obama’s plan is to do just the opposite. Obama’s wise plan is to remove the US Army and marines from the area and then negotiate.

Obama’s plan is peace through weakness. It’s peace through strength that works.

That does not mean we go into another war like Iraq. I read above where you are concerned about Neocon propoganda. Whether you are correct or not in your concerns seems a bit irrelevant because the discussion is over negotiations and when to talk.

Your position, or the position of the democratic party is to withdraw our forces and talk face to face with terrorist to negotiate. I would really like to see from history where American presidents have been successful with that approach.

It will be interesting to see if peace through weakness works. I hope Ahmadinejad has read Obama’s book.

Of course Ahmadinejad does not believe in the Holocaust and wants Israel wiped from the face of the earth. Obama with his years of diplomatic experience can convince him.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 20, 2008 4:45 PM
Comment #253247

Negotiations between nations are normally a complex process with multiple steps and levels of coordination. It is appropriate for people in equivalent positions to negotiate with one another, rather than lower levels with higher levels. If nothing else, that ensures the negotiators have the authority to keep their side of the deal.

So it is perfectly appropriate for Obama to meet with the head of the Iranian state, and it is desirable. If it contributes to understanding, so much the better. As for conducting some sort of snap-of-the-finger treaty or trade agreement, that’s a silly idea, and I don’t think anyone is suggesting it. Last I heard, treaties between nations have to be approved by Congress.

So Obama is correct. It is always appropriate to talk, especially with enemies. Calling enemies ‘terrorists,’ more often than not, is a way of denigrating and dehumanizing them as a way for preparing to kill. Funny how practically everyone in the Middle East that we disagree with is now a ‘terrorist.’

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 5:00 PM
Comment #253249

Craig:

You hit the nail right on the head. This is clearly a case of one candidate who understands that it is in the U.S. interest to negotiate through strength and the other who doesn’t seem to grasp that concept. Somehow the Democrats have convinced themselves that it is better to lose in Iraq and to sacrifice our longtime ally, Israel, so that we can bring our country down to the same level to which our ersatz friends in Europe have descended. Peace through weakness. Strength through surrender. Reality through fantasy.

Obama is an attractive, charismatic candidate, no doubt about it. He is articulate and intelligent, yes. He is also woefully short on real-politik experience and the real-life experiences of John McCain. He has absolutely no experience in foreign affairs and his advisers, such as Joe Biden, have been consistently wrong on Iraq. This is not a game, this is not something you try on the cuff. “Tough, strong negotiations,” in Obama’s words, are simply not there.

Obama is truly a hollow man who simply doesn’t get it.

Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 5:09 PM
Comment #253252

phx8:

So it is perfectly appropriate for Obama to meet with the head of the Iranian state, and it is desirable. If it contributes to understanding, so much the better. As for conducting some sort of snap-of-the-finger treaty or trade agreement, that’s a silly idea, and I don’t think anyone is suggesting it. Last I heard, treaties between nations have to be approved by Congress.

That is really incorrect for many reasons.

One of the main ones is that the UN is currently working to isolate Iran. The UN has been negotiating with Iran for some time. The collective wisdom of the world body is that Iran needs to stop it’s nuclear ambitions.

Obama’s desire to just sit down without and preconditions goes totally against the work of the UN.

Chamberlin did the same thing with Germany. There were many officers ready to do away with Hitler. They gave up when Chamberlin came to town. Without his well intended actions WWII might have never happened.

Obama is proposing a very dangerous path. There is a time for talking at the top level. Presidential discussions obviously a tool. Obama’s intended misuse of the tool is that he has the cart before the horse. You end the negotiations with the President, you don’t begin with the President.

He is coming across as a child in an adult game. Very dangerous.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 20, 2008 5:23 PM
Comment #253253

Jack,

Simple minds love simple definitions!

Kerry was the “flip-flopper”.

It appears that after a few attempts to fit Obama with the perfect simplistic “catch-phrase” the GOP has found a pocket-size argument to satisfy their simple-minded constituents.

I might add that these constituents are the same ones that are simply happier overall than their liberal counterparts …… for any number of reasons, because the good book says so, or the framers said so, or grandpa said so, etc, etc.

The less thought required the better the result, eh? I’d think that’s the only way one can see improvement based on our nations decline.

Posted by: KansasDem at May 20, 2008 5:26 PM
Comment #253254

Phx8:

Let me explain this another way. I was on a public school board for about 10 years. From time to time we needed to negotiate with our Union. Neither the Superintendent (President) nor the School Board (Congress) was in the room.

Why was that? The reason was because if the Board or Superintendent said something stupid there was no one in the room with proper rank to shut them down. They might mis speak and conceded more they was appropriate.

Instead there was always a negotiating team. When the team made a “mistake” the Board and Superintendent simply declined.

At the end when there was an agreement, that is when the Board, Superintendent and leadership of the Union came into the picture.

I cannot emphasis enough. Obama’s approach of meeting without conditions is extremely dangerous. He is operating in an idealistic childish world. There are nations at stake. Having never been on the national stage until recently, he now believes he can go solo on the world stage.

He wants to go from being a routine pitcher in the minor leagues to pitching the final game of the world series. Nothing has prepared him for this venture. It is simply dangerous arrogance.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 20, 2008 5:31 PM
Comment #253255

Obama is truly a hollow man who simply doesn’t get it.
Posted by: goombah at May 20, 2008 05:09 PM

goombah, you make some excellent points. It will be fun to watch the Obamawan squirm when asked real questions during the McCain/Obama debates. I’ll take the old wise man over the inexperienced and impetuous junior senator anytime.

The comments of some of the liberals on this post is unfathomable. How can one be so blind about history and be so anxious to repeat all the bad mistakes of the past.

The world is a little more complex and dangerous then the south side of Chicago and the stakes are much too high to allow OJT for the novice Obama.

Posted by: Jim M at May 20, 2008 5:46 PM
Comment #253256

goombah:

thank you!!

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 20, 2008 6:03 PM
Comment #253257

Craig,
Come on. Hardly a week goes by without McCain making a foreign policy gaffe, and no one is expressing any concern- at least, not yet. Obama has a learning curve to go through- I will concede that- but he seems capable of learning, and his attitude is mature. No one comes into the office of president fully prepared and knowing everything. It’s impossible. Obama does bring a powerful intellect and persona the rest of the world might respond to favorably.

McCain has the benefit of serving on the Armed Services Committee as well as in the military. This is also a drawback, because he seems to see the world through a military perspective, and I don’t think anyone believes the US needs to become more belligerent, bellicose, and aggressive.

It seems tough, but too often that kind of attitude is motivated by lack of confidence and fear.

I don’t think the appeasement of Chamberlain caused WWII. I’m not sure anything could have stopped WWII. The Sudentenland of Czeckoslovakia had a large German population. At the time, Hitler seemed bent upon uniting German populations under one Fatherland, so actually, ceding the Sudentenland of Czeckoslovakia in an act of appeasement ‘seemed like a good idea at the time,’ assuming Hitler had been satisfied merely to unite Germans. (There’s more to it than this, I know, I’m making generalizations). Of course, Hitler was not satisfied to merely unite German populations. It was a bad assumption by Chamberlain. Hitler also set out to conquest non-german and therefore ‘inferior’ populations in order to create Lebensraum. A show of force by the allies in Czeckoslovakia might have delayed Hitler’s plans, but I don’t think it would have stopped him from rolling over Poland.

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 6:14 PM
Comment #253258

I loved Obama’s point, the soviet union had hundreds of nukes pointed at us and we talked to them and talked them down, Iran has 0(ZERO) nukes and we won’t talk to them? That makes no sence. You have to then ask, is this ultimately a religious war? The only time you take a stance against talk is when it’s not politics that’s the issue, it’s something more sinister. Through out history this position has often been to acquire your enemies resources. North Korea has Nukes and they are in included in this debate, maybe if they were Muslim or had resources they would be.

Posted by: Andrew stone at May 20, 2008 6:20 PM
Comment #253259

“It will be fun to watch the Obamawan squirm when asked real questions during the McCain/Obama debates.”

In that regard ……… please, PLEASE bring it on! Will Leiberman be at his side to correct him when he declares that Iran is training AQI?

Will he be able to handle a true debate without his notorious temper flaring, or will he have a “bulge” in his suit jacket?

Posted by: KansasDem at May 20, 2008 6:39 PM
Comment #253261

Jack,
What I want to know from both My Democratic and Republican Presidential Candiates is if they understand how to use the Common Sense of the Law of Man to demonstrate to Leaders of other Countries that “We the People” are not going to back down from building a Better World to anything or anybody known to Man.

How, we go about doing so in the case of me is probaly better left in the hands of My Elders and Peers.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 20, 2008 7:48 PM
Comment #253262

“building a Better World”

Henry Schlatman,

Is that one of the principles upon which the USA was founded?

Should we pursue the end-game of US-of-World?

I guess USW is kind of catchy.

Posted by: KansasDem at May 20, 2008 7:55 PM
Comment #253265

KansasDem,
If we do not want to build a “Better World” than why does both sides of society fight so hard to have their voice heard?

Why a Better World instead of a Perfect World? Well, until you can find someone crazy enough to prove to Grandfather that if he builds Gramdma a Perefect World and in the next 3 weeks she will not ask him to move a piece of furniture. Than does not Logic and Reason dictate that Man can only build a Better Bathroom?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 20, 2008 10:18 PM
Comment #253270

Will someone on here please explain to the cons that EVERY Republican president (including Reagan and both Bushes) has held diplomatic talks with nations that either support terrorism or have declared their intention to destroy America e.g. Soviet Union, China, Iran, etc….

Yet when Obama says that he’s also going to talk to those same nations in the interest of Diplomacy, the Republicans accuse him of naivete and appeasement.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 20, 2008 11:38 PM
Comment #253271

Has it ever occurred to anyone that appeasement can be a good idea?

Being a fundamentally insecure and fearful bunch, conservative Republicans are terrified of appeasing an enemy. Appeasement is associated with weakness for the simple-minded. But conservative Republicans learned the wrong lesson from Chamberlain and Munich, and the act of appeasement. Always remember:

War is a last resort.

Had the allies started the war with Germany, they would have immediately lost the moral high ground. If the war had been a war of choice, it would have been just another bloody effort to resolve border and colonial disputes between Britain, France, & central Europe; who can say where events would have led? Munich bought the allies a year. The demand for German expansion would have continued, with Gdansk and Konigsberg as the next source of conflict. The drive to unify German culture under one government was not random.

Because Germany started WWII by invading Poland, the onus of being a warmongering state fell upon them. The Nazis started WWII as a war of choice. When diplomacy failed, they chose war.

This clarified the choice for Britain, France, and others. Initially, Britain and France declared war and waited, hoping to somehow avoid the carnage of WWI.

There is an important lesson here, too, which seems to be lost upon conservative Republicans. These lessons were later codified in the Powell Doctrine. But in a nutshell:

1) War is a last resort
2) Because it is a last resort, war is a matter of national survival. Therefore, when waged, war should be fought by applying overwhelming force as quickly as possible.

It isn’t fought to occupy a new colony, like Iraq. That is the act of an oppressor.

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2008 11:43 PM
Comment #253273

phx8:

I’m not so sure it matters. The war in Iraq happened.

Now our debate should be about the future. I think it is useful to look at the Powell doctrine for the future, and to learn from Iraq to make sure that we do not repeat mistakes. All would like to have known that there were no WMD in Iraq.

I have been thinking since our earlier exchanges. I am not so sure Chamberlin is the right analogy. I like Truman instead.

If you think about 1945, Truman did at least three things that were important. His situation is not unlike ours today, although his was much greater. If you look at the defeat of Germany, as a parallel to the defeat of Iraq, and our issue with Russia as a parallel to Iran, I think there might be some lessons learned.

First of all at the outset I acknowledge that there are some areas that do not fit. Russia was an ally in WWII.

Look what America did after the war.

1. They left troops on the ground. We averaged over 250,000 troops in Germany alone from 1945 to 1995. Fifty years!! This provided the stability to build a new Europe. Since Iran is not Russia we should be able to use far fewer troops in Iraq.

2. Second we ditched the league of nations and started the UN. I’m not for ditching the UN but I am for relooking at it’s charter and retooling it after all these years. Since now Russia has a GDP about the size of Mexico, it seems to be that at least the Security Counsel should be relooked at.

3. We started NATO to provide security. We should look at starting some sort of security league in the middle east to help contain Iran.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 21, 2008 12:31 AM
Comment #253275

Craig,
“We should look at starting some sort of security league in the middle east to help contain Iran.”

That’s an interesting thought. But I just don’t see why Iran should be the focus for antagonism for US policy in the Middle East. Other than oil, Iran is relatively insignificant to US interests. Furthermore, as long as the US unconditionally backs Israel, any security league would consist of only the US and Israel. The Iraq of Saddam Hussein was used as a balance against Iran, but that resulted in a terrible war between the two countries, and today it’s no longer an option anyway. Personally, I think it’s best when countries grow from an organic process which unifies a culture within a boundary, as opposed to having boundaries imposed from outside the culture through colonialism.

Iraq, for example, is a colonial construct…

The story of Germany in the 20th century was essentially the story of a culture attempting to unify into one country through war…


Posted by: phx8 at May 21, 2008 1:08 AM
Comment #253276

Phx8

You are giving the same sensible advice I heard from Joe Biden speaking on “Meet the Press.” Unfortunately, that is NOT the Obama position. Obama wants to skip all those steps and go right to the big meeting w/o preconditions. The candidate Obama still has refused to back down from his childish assertion made in the debate with Clinton months ago. It is part of his education to understand these things.

If Obama had said what you explained, we would not be having this debate. You are right. Obama is wrong. And you are not saying the same things. The maturity is in the nuances and details. That is what Obama is missing.

The problem with your analysis of WWII is that by appeasing the Allies made the Nazis stronger. Yes, I suppose it was nice to have been “right”, but a war that killed 10% of the Polish population, a majority of European Jews, 20million Russians etc, was a high price to pay for being right. Beyond that, Britain almost lost the war. France actually did lose. With a little more luck and a few different decisions, the Nazis may well have defeated Britain before the U.S. came in after Pearl Harbor. I don’t think the world would have been a better place.

We have the misconception that big events in history were inevitable. There was no inevitability about Germany becoming a fascist state, launching an aggressive war and killing millions of civilians. A greater resolve and courage by the Allies in the early 1930s might have avoided that carnage. By 1939 the situation had already spun out of control.

The nuance that Obama does not understand, is that there is a time for toughness and a time for concessions, but you don’t go out and make concession w/o preconditions.

BTW – you might want to look up that Powell doctrine. Jouranalists kind of made up the term and it doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody. Powell did not call for overwhelming force. In fact, I think he used that particular term only once in a speech. People latched onto it. The term he used was DECISIVE force, which we did apply against Saddam. That is why that conventional war fighting stage went so quick. Beyond that, war as a “last resort, what does than mean?

In our 1939 example, Britain and France did not have to fight after the invasion of Poland. Germany did not invade either of their territories. Was that a last resort? After Pearl Harbor, I am sure we could have reached accommodation (appeasement) with the Japanese. Was that a last resort? It is always a judgment

Kansas

Kerry was a flip flopper.

I believe that a person SHOULD changing his mind when information available changes, when the situation develops or when he was just wrong. That is the change we saw in the Bush policy toward Iraq in 2007, when all three of those things were at work.

Kerry would change his position for no good reason or for reasons of pandering. The two stupid extremes are those who never change their minds and those who can never make them up.

Re Obama – I really cannot understand why he just doesn’t explain his statements the way his good friend Joe Biden did for him. All he needed to say was that he was wrong when he spoke re personal meetings w/o preconditions. Of course, it gets harder to back down each day he digs in.

I personally would lay off (for a while) if he just came out with that. I have not mentioned the unfortunately Mrs. Obama lack of pride in America incident since she apologized. I gave Obama credit for kicking Wright to the curb, although that he tolerated Wright for more than 20 years still is a cause of concern.

Obama made the typical mistake of an intelligent young man w/o significant international experience. He should indicate that he learned from his mistake and move on. If he does, I will move on too. I am sure his general inexperience will give me lots of other things to pester about.

Andrew

Obama got that part especially wrong. If a country has hundreds of nukes pointed at you, you sure have to take notice and maybe even extraordinary measures. When you have dozens of little tyrants nipping at your heels, you simply cannot devote the bulk of your efforts (as we did with the Soviet Union) to each of them. In other words, the bear in your path gets your full attention. The chihuahuas nipping at your feel might just merit a kick, but not matter what there are too many of them to give each one personal attention.

Obama’s inexperience is showing again in his analogy. He keeps digging deeper.

Glen

Please see above. The problem of Obama’s inexperience, and that of many of his followers, lies precisely in not understanding the differences and nuance. The test of intelligence is that ability to make reasonable distinctions.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 2:19 AM
Comment #253299

phx8:

That’s an interesting thought. But I just don’t see why Iran should be the focus for antagonism for US policy in the Middle East.

Hmmmm, where to start. Their leader calling for the end of an ally in the middle east?

Snubbing their nose at three unanaomous UN resolutions.

Having the ability to shut down oil near it’s boarders.

Being the largest state sponsor of terror in the world.

Iran is different from Iraq in that their leadership is out there plainly saying what their intentions are.

But your candidate has already pledged to undermine three unamamous UN resolutions and deal directly with them. Iran will of course will be inspired by his rhetoric.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 21, 2008 11:42 AM
Comment #253306

“The problem of Obama’s inexperience, and that of many of his followers, lies precisely in not understanding the differences and nuance. The test of intelligence is that ability to make reasonable distinctions.”

Jack, if you’ll recall, Cheney and Rumsfeld are some of the most experienced Washington insiders of the modern day…yet where did their admittedly VAST experience take us?

As Obama said, Judgment is more important than experience. AND going back to Neville Chamberlain, he was also a veteran politician, too. He served in government for 21 years before he became Prime Minister.

And oh yeah - he was a conservative, too.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 21, 2008 12:31 PM
Comment #253310

Glen

Judgement is important. Obama has yet to show very much of it. His indications so far are not promising. He bases all his judgement credentials on the fact that he says he would have voted against the Iraq resolution back in 2002, when he had not responsibility or opportunity to do so.

Obama is a great looking guy, a wonderful speaker and a superb money raiser. Besides that, who knows?

And just because experienced people make mistakes does not mean you should go with the unexperienced. Maybe your surgeon is not good, but you don’t then just go with the good looking guy who plays a doctor on TV.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 1:03 PM
Comment #253319

Is that one vote against the Iraq war the only decision he’s made? I don’t think so. And your argument falls when compared to the success of another tall, skinny junior congressman who was elected president - Lincoln.

And I NEVER said that one should go with the inexperienced because experienced people made mistakes - that’s a fallacious argument, Jack.

What I AM saying is that it is a mistake to base one’s opinion of someone based on experience - especially when those that one supports made ‘mistakes’ of such magnitude as these:

- The Iraq war (Bush admits his intel was wrong - but he refused to LISTEN to the professionals who were telling him it wrong).

- The housing crisis (yes, he DOES get the blame because in 2003, attorneys general from ALL 50 states warned him of the impending crisis and told him the market needed regulatory action ASAP…and did he LISTEN? No - he used a Civil War-era law to not only refuse their plea but also to negate all such laws that some states had already passed).

- Global warming (which he admits is quite real…but he had already set in place conditions to not allow EPA scientists to publish research that showed the danger of allowing greenhouse gases to increase unchecked…so that no one would be able to LISTEN to them).

- America’s prestige (For twenty years I served on the side of a country that was against wars of aggression, torture, arrest without charges or even evidence, imprisonment without trial…but now it’s MY country that does these things).

Personally, I prefer Hillary to Obama, for while I think his judgment is better than hers, her combination of judgment and experience would enable her to accomplish more. But either one has far better judgment than McCain, who is a bona fide war hero, but his lapses in judgment in office simply goes to show that true heroism in war means little when it comes to one’s ability to govern.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 21, 2008 2:42 PM
Comment #253320

My apologies for the faulty formatting in the previous post - I meant to end the boldface with ‘judgment’.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 21, 2008 2:45 PM
Comment #253328

Glen

Have you ever seen “Mr.Deeds Goes to Town”? I mean the original with Gary Cooper. You know the story. Mr. Deeds seems crazy, but turns out to be the sanest man in town. Not every nutty guy is Mr. Deeds. Most are just nuts.

Comparing Obama to Lincoln is silly. Lincoln had already stood got national attention speaking on the most difficult issue of the day. He took some unpopular stands.

Obama is a lightweight. Read his speeches. There is not much there. His delivery and looks carry him over.

YOu can blame Bush for anything you want, but it does not make Obama any more experienced or improve his judgement. And Bush is not running in 2008. In fact, you may recall that Bush had very little experience in 2000, maybe about as much as Obama. In fact that is where the parallel lies; neither is a Lincoln.

BTW - Obama is skinny but how tall is he? I bet he is no more than my height (6’1”) Lincoln was 6’4”, which in those days was a bigger deal. Lincoln also did a lot of work with his own hands. I don’t believe Obama has ever picked up a workingman’s tool except for a photo-op. Obama is not Lincoln.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 5:04 PM
Comment #253341

Did you know Lincoln participated in seances at the White House? His wife practiced spiritualism in the hope of contacting their dead son, and he joined her.

Lincoln was a guy with the ability to write a great speech. He was courageous, but he couldn’t pick decent generals even when the country’s fate depended on it. It took Grant, a notorious drunkard, to eventually save his bacon. Lincoln’s vice-president, Andrew Johnson, was drunk at his swearing-in to the presidency, and I do mean blotto.

Like Lincoln, Obama shows the promise of being a great leader, and that is more than we can say of any candidate in a very long time.

Posted by: phx8 at May 21, 2008 7:03 PM
Comment #253366

Clinton has taken Kentucky and Obama is right there in Oregon.
The Democratic race for nomination is still very much alive – and most likely to be decided by superdelegates – as CNN points out clearly

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/20/primary.wrap/index.html

If you’re tired of waiting around for those super delegates to make a decision already, go to LobbyDelegates.com and push them to support Clinton or Obama

If you haven’t done so yet, please write a message to each of your state’s superdelegates at http://www.lobbydelegates.com

Obama Supporters:

Sending a note to current Obama supporters lets them know it’s appreciated, sending a note to current Clinton supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Obama, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Obama. It’s that easy…

Clinton Supporters too …. !

It takes a moment, but what’s a few minutes now worth to get Clinton in office?! Those are really worth !

Sending a note to current Clinton supporters lets them know it’s appreciated, sending a note to current Obama supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Clinton, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Clinton. It’s that easy…

Posted by: Kathy at May 22, 2008 7:54 AM
Comment #253390

Here’s a link to an interesting editorial in the NY Times today concerning how the inexperience JFK led this nation to the brink of war with the Soviet Union by agreeing to a meeting with Khrushchev without the appropriate pre-conditions and groundwork being laid first.

Those who find the Obamawan’s words about meeting with the world’s terrorists leaders comforting, give this a read.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/22/opinion/22thrall.html?th&emc=th

Posted by: Jim M at May 22, 2008 1:19 PM
Comment #253437

Here’s what I truly don’t understand. Why is it, when we’ve got two wars going on already - one of which was started by Bush on false pretenses - that people would want to elect another hawk?

Actually, I think I know what the answer is: again and again in my military career, it was (in so many words) “the Republicans support the military and the Democrats don’t”. Some saw it as almost treasonous that someone would support the Democrats…and those of us who were liberal (even former Republicans like myself) were made to look like we just didn’t love America, that we just weren’t as patriotic as anyone who claimed to be conservative.

But my question to the conservatives is this: at what point do you start thinking that it’s gone too far to the right? We’ve given up the rights to habeus corpus, protection from unlawful search and seizure, freedom of speech, freedom from imprisonment without charges or even a trial…what does it take to make you see that we are edging ever closer to the communism against which we Cold Warriors held the line?

At what point do you hold the freedoms of ALL Americans (not just gun-owners) to be more important than voting for whoever claims to be the most patriotic?

An America which does not protect those freedoms…is no longer America.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 22, 2008 6:25 PM
Comment #253565

Jack,

An excellent really. A few points of disagreement. My main disagreement hinges around the definition of what “is” is… Oh no that was Bill Clinton… My disagreement hinges around the definition of preconditions. The Devil is always in the details. I am sure that Obama is not saying: “Hey, I will sit down and shoot the bull with anybody.” We will surely get Dick Cheney to shoot a couple bulls and a few old men in the face before the President sits down. Point is: There will be a lot of bull shooting behind the scenes, in the background, before the President sits down. There always is and Obama knows that. Not being Obama, I cannot speak for him, but I think Obama is saying that Iran for example would not have to publicly agree to give up pursuit of nuclear arms before sitting down, but there would be a quiet back room deal that they were going to agree to that when the President sat down before the President would agree to sit down. That is how diplomacy is done and Obama knows that. In other words, Iran does not have to prostrate themselves before to mighty American Emperor, humiliate themselves and give up something for nothing. They can treated in a respectful manner on the world stage, make a back room deal, and walk away with dignity, having achieved peace in their time. They then can go back to their people saying: Yes we gave up our nuclear program but we achieved peace with America. You want them to give up their nuclear program and then you will talk to them about peace. That is not how diplomacy is done. That is how the Emperor dictatorially dictates to the world. Your article highlights Republican naivete in matters of diplomacy. Republican naivete in these matters is not surprising given that the Republican Party is the party of warmongers.


Posted by: Ray Guest at May 24, 2008 1:02 PM
Comment #253829

“OBAMA”..!

This guy is not even “President”yet,and he’s
been “Hob-nobbing”so to speak with some very
strange individual’s. Starting with his “Minister”
Rev.Wright,the “Racist”and, Aire’s the “Terrorist”. People of this Country need to wake up before it’s too late….!

Posted by: j.i.m. at May 28, 2008 5:22 PM
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