President Bush has been in Israel this week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our ally's modern and often perilous existence. One of the nations which has continued to threaten Israel’s existence is, of course, Iran. And as we know, Iran has a nuclear weapons program and is a state sponsor of terrorism. Speaking to the subject of negotiating with terrorists before Israel's Knesset, here's the president today:
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush told the Israeli lawmakers. "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.No biggie, right? We all know this history--well some of us do. Do you think Barack Obama does? Because for some reason, he took swift and immediate exception to this statement.
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,” he said in a statement. “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.White House spokeswoman Dana Perino denies that the statement was in reference to the senator and takes a smack at him as well:
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.Just so.
Obama also claims that Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agrees with him with regard to talking to Iran. But does he? Here is yesterday’s statement on the matter from Gates:
We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage . . . and then sit down and talk with them," Gates said. "If there is going to be a discussion, then they need something, too. We can't go to a discussion and be completely the demander, with them not feeling that they need anything from us."And let’s remember what is on Obama’s campaign site regarding his plans for Iran:
In the meantime, Gates told a meeting of the Academy of American Diplomacy, a group of retired diplomats, "my personal view would be we ought to look for ways outside of government to open up the channels and get more of a flow of people back and forth." Noting that "a fair number" of Iranians regularly visit the United States, he said, "We ought to increase the flow the other way . . . of Americans" visiting Iran. [SNIP]
The Bush administration has said it will talk with Iran, and consider lifting economic and other sanctions, only if Iran ends a uranium enrichment program the administration maintains is intended to produce nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. Although the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Baghdad met three times last year for discussions on Iraq, Iran has refused to continue that dialogue.
Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.(All emphasis mine.)
Does Senator Obama know what a precondition is? Because he seems to be taking two different, mutually exclusive positions regarding diplomacy with Iran. And that's what's causing yet another problem with attempts to pin him down on policy--a symptom, no doubt, of his chronic double-think.
The senator might want to do a little site clean-up. He also may want to stop whining and remember that Israel has terrorist problems apart from the Iranians and that the president may have this and other things on his mind.