Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Iran...

Worse than all of their previous foreign policy gaffes is Obama's inability to understand the depth of the current situation or coherently explain how he would handle U.S. policy toward Iran. He has been anything but clear regarding his intent toward the Ahmadinejad regime. During a campaign stop in Oregon, Obama said of Iran, "They don't pose a serious threat to us, in the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us," and went on to explain why he doesn’t think we need to worry about “tiny” countries like Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. Yet on the following day in Montana Obama said, "I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave." Conflicting statements? Not according to Obama.

But the question Obama received during the CNN/Youtube Democrat Debate couldn't have been any clearer. "In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?"

Obama replied, "I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous."

He makes the case that he should sit down face to face with the sadistic leaders of these rogue states by suggesting that the Berlin Wall fell because we engaged Mikhail Gorbachev in negotiations and that "Kennedy talked to Khrushchev and he got those missiles out of Cuba."

This is an absurdity.

The Cuban Missle Crisis is an example of reactive negotiations to an emergency that had reached a near-fatal crescendo, rather than the type of pre-emptive meetings Obama calls for. Further, claiming that the U.S.-Soviet summits of the 1980s alone produced peace between the superpowers would be an incredibly naive supposition for anyone to make.

Contrary to Obama's statements on the issue, we met with the Soviets because they were a nuclear superpower. Our Iran policy should be built around preventing the mullahs from acquiring a single warhead. If we fail to prevent this, then we will indeed be forced to the negotiating table in a position of weakness to cut deals with a terrorist-sponoring, radical Islamist regime with an apocalyptic religious fanaticism.

Should the president ever meet with enemies? Sometimes, but only after minimal American objectives — i.e., preconditions — have been met. Obama has since come back from his claim that he would have insisted on preconditions all along, but even some Democrats detected an evolving position, including Joe Biden, who said, "This is a fellow who, I think, shorthanded an answer that, in fact, was the wrong answer, in my view, saying, 'I would, within the first year' -- it implied he'd personally sit down with anybody who wanted to sit down with him."

Does Obama think North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela are insufficiently informed about American requirements for improved relations? What's the point in negotiating with regimes who are in open violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions? When they meet face-to-face, what concessions does Obama think Ahmadinejad will offer him on Iran's nuclear program that haven't already been discussed during the five years of talks between Iran, our closest European allies and the International Atomic Energy Agency?

In my opinion, should a President seriously desire a conversation with these states, there are back-channel forms of diplomatic communication through intermediaries. Israel has for years held secret high-level meetings with her Arab neighbors, despite their refusal to even officially recognize the Jewish state, but they were secret and undisclosed to the public until years after.

To quote Krauthammer, "Having lashed himself to the ridiculous, unprecedented promise of unconditional presidential negotiations — and then having compounded the problem by elevating it to a principle — Obama keeps trying to explain." Meanwhile, our nation-state adversaries anxiously await an Obama victory.

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