Senator Obama’s naive, ahistorical, and unrealistic foreign policy viewpoints: His Achilles Heel for the November election
In Israel for the 60th anniversary celebration of its founding, President George W. Bush gave a speech in the Knesset, saying these words:
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along . . . We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of 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.
Kathryn Jean Lopez writes about what happened next:
Immediately, the Democratic party responded in outrage, insisting it was an unprecedented political attack on their presumptive nominee from foreign soil. Barack Obama himself said: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack.”
Senator Joseph Biden called the president’s remarks “bulls**t.”
The White House denied the remark was about Obama. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino responded, “I would think that all of you who cover these issues and for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you’re running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case.”
The White House’s denial is believable, and the Democrats’ accusation is a distortion and a distraction. The commander-in-chief, believe it or not, might have been concerned with something besides The Situation Room running a clip of him hitting Obama. The presidency, you see, is about more than the spin-cycle, the next election, and even the next president.
The president could have been speaking of any number of Democrats. Say, Jimmy Carter, who in April, 2008 said: “Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders [Hamas and Syria], it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East, as in Nepal, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.”
Or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, freelance diplomat, who in December 2007 said: “the road to Damascus is a road to peace.”
Or, perhaps he meant Speaker Pelosi in April 2007: “I believe in dialogue. As my colleagues have said over and over again, unless you communicate, you cannot understand each other. You cannot reach agreement.”
Or maybe he meant recent Obama endorser and former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who, according to his own press release in February of last year, believes “the U.S. should step up our diplomatic efforts by engaging in direct talks with all the nations in the region, including Iran and Syria.”
Or Bill Richardson, who has said, about meeting with Iran and Syria: “They’re bad folks … But you don’t have peace talks with your friends.”
It could have been about Congressman Henry Waxman, who in April said: “A Democratic administration would go back and try to open that possibility up for discussions [with Iran] of a grand bargain of one sort or another … Democrats would certainly have seen that as a missed opportunity.”
Or Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “I can go to Syria. I can go to Iran and work to craft a path towards peace. And I will … How can you change peoples minds if you don’t meet with them?”
Or former Democratic presidential candidates and senators Chris Dodd and John Kerry, who met with Syria’s al-Assad and said: “As senior Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee, we felt it was important to make clear that while we believe in resuming dialogue, our message is no different: Syria can and should play a more constructive role in the region … We concluded that our conversation was worthwhile, and that … resuming direct dialogue with Syria should be pursued.”
Or the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, from April 10: “[Diplomats] can deliver some pretty tough messages … You don’t begin with a president of the country, but you do need to talk to your enemy.”
You get the idea. The world does not actually revolve around Barackstar. It doesn’t even revolve around contemporary Democrats. There are two very different ways of looking at the world, represented by the two parties here in the U.S. President Bush, obviously, believes the other party’s approach is wrong. To say so, in his mind, was of historic importance, for obvious reasons. Obvious, at least, to any statesman who can see before and beyond this current election season. Thank you, Senator Obama, for helping make clear where you stand on that front.
Two different world views, for sure. John Podhoretz and Peter Wehner have more.
Ed Morrisey reports on what Obama has said on his own website and in political debates here. (And now Obama says this? Would that be change you can believe in?)
Power Line points out another significant and contradictory foreign policy position of Obama’s here. Check out the photo at the bottom of the post and reflect on these words:
Commenting on the distinction that Obama vehemently observes between Iran and Hamas, Geraghty is unconstrained by the norms that Newsweek seeks to impose: “Obama contends a face-to-face summit with the guy on the left is long overdue; a face-to-face summit with the guy on the right is crazy talk.”
Taking a further step back, recall Obama’s NC victory speech when he said:
I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.
To which, Tom Maguire writes:
Obama’s supporters are too young to know any of this, but Roosevelt led the United States in the war against Hitler; the Allied policy was unconditional surrender, so there was very little for Roosevelt and Hitler to discuss, and in fact, the two did not meet at all (but they did exchange correspondence before the war).
So my guess is that Obama is thinking of the Yalta Conference with Churchill and Stalin as talking to “our enemies,” although of course we were still allied with the Soviet Union against Germany and Japan at that point. Beyond that, is the Yalta Conference something Obama and his advisers view as a success worthy of emulation? Puzzling.
Power Line adds these additional words:
And the United States has been talking with Iran right along in any event. It’s not for lack of communication that Iran has been conducting its war on the United States.
MEMO TO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN: When somebody condemns appeasement, it doesn’t help things to jump up and yell “Hey, he’s talking about me!”
I think Obama’s views on this related set of foreign policy issues are his single greatest vulnerability in the general election. They are a vulnerability because they provide the clearest and deepest insights into his view of the world and human nature, at a time of an unrelenting global war against our country. And it is in the context of those insights about Obama’s world view that it is possible to attach a related and unfavorable interpretation to his parallel relationships with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.