Friday, October 24, 2008

No Preconditions

Way back when, I don't know, back in 2007 I think, Barack Obama was asked if he would sit down with the leaders of "enemy" nations without preconditions. He said yes. He got a lot of criticism for that answer. Indeed, he still is getting flak for it, long after he has filled out what he means.

By "no preconditions," Obama meant, as I understand it, and as the question that day was phrased, that he would not require them to meet unreachable standards before sitting down with them. For instance, if he decided it was in our best interest to talk with Iran about the situations in Iraq and Lebanon, he wouldn't necessarily require Iran to let's say, stop its nuclear activities or withdraw support of Hezbollah. Those are likely goals that might emerge from the talks, rather than being the preconditions for the talks.

The other night I heard Sarah Palin say, with John McCain sitting next to her, that her understanding of "no preconditions" meant "no preparation." Here is a clip of what she said:




Now, Obama has never said he would sit down with another leader without doing hard preparatory work beforehand. And, he might not meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He might instead request a meeting with the real leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Or, maybe he'll put off such a meeting and decide to meet with Syria's President. There is much evidence out there that Syria could be peeled off from Iran, if we would just engage them. But all of this takes preparation -- something Obama has consistently said must be done. Palin's view, is simply not in line with the truth. In fact, I don't think she knows what she's talking about.

Richard Nixon understood that one had to talk with enemies, and so he went to China and he went to the Soviet Union -- during the Vietnam War. And he opened up relations with both countries. Did he require that Mao give up power or the Soviets give up their arms? NO. Did he have his team prepare for this carefully, of course. And, he was a Republican, last I checked.

So, if you're going to criticize Obama for what he said, at least give him the courtesy of criticizing him for what he said rather than for what he didn't say! Of course she would have to understand the issue first!

1 comment:

Drew Tatusko said...

Colin Powell on Meet the Press also said that this is the time for outreach for American diplomacy. That's what Obama is talking about.

But why should we expect McPalin to give us anything other than a straw-man now?