“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
—John F. Kennedy
While clearly the worst foreign policy president in the nation’s history, Mr. Bush is unabashed in criticizing Senator Obama’s new politics of principled leadership ,including a commitment to negotiation and diplomacy: “President Bush used a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Thursday to denounce those who would negotiate with ‘terrorists and radicals’ a remark that was widely interpreted as a rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, who has argued that the United States should talk directly with countries like Iran and Syria. . . . Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. Obama by name, and the White House said his remarks were not aimed at the senator. In a lengthy speech intended to promote the strong alliance between the United States and Israel, the president invoked the emotionally volatile imagery of World War II to make the case that talking to terrorists and radicals was no different than appeasing Hitler and the Nazis. . . . ‘Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”‘ We have an obligation to call this what it is–the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.’ Continue reading here.
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Bush is the same person whose Middle-East policy has rendered Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy, the most powerful nation in the area except for Israel itself. With friends like Bush, Israel needs no for enemies. How can any sane person equate talking to an enemy with appeasement? Why wasn’t Nixon called an appeaser for meeting with Mao? Indeed, how come Reagan was applauded for meeting with Gorbachev? Mr. Bush’s speech while pandering to the thoughtless is just the sort of empty rhetoric that is anathema to resolving, however slightly, the problems of world peace. Senator Obama is asking us to shed our cynicism about the possibility of engaging the enemy diplomatically. He envisions a new kind of leadership both internationally and domestic. We can always pull back if our entreaties are spurned or if we are deceived by the enemy. So what’s lost by taking Obama’s route? Moreover, an unreflective dedication to conventional “wisdom” about the role of diplomacy, that is, don’t talk to you enemies until they’ve conceded, suggests we value, for some mysterious reason, keeping our enemies as enemies–in short, it suggests that we really do not seek peace, which must involve negotiation and diplomacy, but instead it suggests that our goal is to maintain a hostile status quo. Leadership, authentic leadership, is more than bullying other nations. It is instead a complex attitude including a host of methods of moral suasion. George W. Bush cannot understand this complexity. (Although members of his administration, for example, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates understand it.) Let’s hope that the electorate this fall can.Credit for Image