Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Speaking Of The Flip Flopping Chimp

Remember when Barack Obama was savaged by the Bush Administration for suggesting we actually sit down and negotiate with the Iranian government? Well, Obama was just a naive politico bent on hastening the ruin of America.

Or when the Shrubs said they wouldn't sit down with the Iranians until they suspended uranium enrichment?

From the Denver Post:

The Bush administration's decision to abandon a long-held policy and meet with a top Iranian official on that country's nuclear program has intensified the political debate in Washington about how best to deal with America's adversaries.

The White House decision was hailed Wednesday by Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who has blasted Republican rival John McCain and President Bush for spurning high-level talks with Iran. Obama said the United States should "stay involved with the full strength of our diplomacy."

Administration officials disclosed Tuesday that Undersecretary of State William Burns would join a delegation from five other world powers to meet with Iranian nuclear envoy Saeed Jalili in Switzerland on Saturday. U.S. officials and their allies hope Iran announces a decision on a proposed package of political and economic incentives in return for abandoning its nuclear ambitions.

The move marked a distinct shift from the administration's position that it would take part in talks with Iran only if the Islamic regime first suspended uranium enrichment activities, which U.S. officials allege are intended to produce a nuclear bomb but which Iran insists are for peaceful energy production.

Democrats interpreted the White House move as one that provided new support for Obama's approach, but the McCain campaign saw it differently. In a statement, McCain foreign policy aide Randy Scheunemann suggested that Bush's move was the kind of "multilateral diplomacy" McCain supports.

McCain "believes working with our allies presents the best chance to increase the consequences should Iran continue its defiance of the international community," the statement said, criticizing Obama for proposing what Scheunemann called "pre-emptive concessions."
Then from the Los Angeles Times:
U.S. and Iranian envoys Saturday had their highest-level diplomatic contact in 29 years, but the seven-nation gathering in Geneva on Tehran's nuclear program was quickly brought to a halt by Iran's refusal to say whether it would suspend uranium enrichment.

U.S. Undersecretary of State William J. Burns joined European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and other diplomats in an attempt to coax Tehran, represented by Saeed Jalili, to agree to a deal aimed at negotiating an end to Iran's nuclear program.

Instead, the diplomats were left wondering whether the Islamic Republic intended to join negotiations or whether it was simply playing for time as the Bush administration winds to an end.

—SNIP—

The inconclusive meeting was a setback for the Bush administration, which set aside its long-declared policy of avoiding contact with Iran until it agreed to suspend uranium enrichment. U.S. officials allege that Tehran seeks a nuclear bomb and fear that the enrichment effort will eventually give it the know-how to build one. The Iranians contend that the enrichment is for peaceful purposes.

—SNIP—

Even before the meeting, Iran's ambassador to Switzerland, Keyvan Imani, said Tehran remained opposed to suspension of enrichment, which it says is allowed it as a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

—SNIP—

Ray Takeyh, an Iran specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Iranians may feel they have a strong incentive to continue delaying on a deal because they may now think they are seeing a pattern of U.S. concessions.

"They got Burns there this week, but in another three weeks, they may have [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice, and after that [Vice President Dick] Cheney," he said.

From the Iranian viewpoint, Takeyh said, the American "red lines" -- nonnegotiable demands -- might appear to be disappearing so quickly they are no longer red. "They're purple, they're mauve, they're anything but red," he said.

Yet he said the Iranians may eventually agree to a "freeze for freeze" deal -- because they may believe that Bush is so weak that they could win more favorable terms from him than from his successor.
So, let's recap. Democrats negotiate with Iran = bad. Republicans negotiate with Iran = good.
*

2 comments:

Romach said...

The British government refused to talk to the IRA in Northern Ireland and for so many years and so many lives were lost because of this conflict. Only when they finally decided to talk to the IRA was the problem resolved and finally in my home country we have a real lasting peace and the place is thriving now because of it. I am hoping other countries can learn form this and realize that peace is achievable when you open discussions with your enemies no matter how painful that may be.

Y | O | Y said...

The situation in the Middle East will not result in unconditional surrender like past wars, where the winner (U.S.) essentially dictated the terms of moving forward.

So, if we are going to have to talk to them anyway, it makes sense to me that we do it sooner rather than later since engaging militarily will not improve our negotiating position.

Talking to the enemy isn't necessarily a sign of weakness if we achieve what we want. Rather, I think it's smart. That assumes, of course, that our stated goals are indeed our real goals. i.e. Why talk to the enemy about a stable non-aggressive democratically elected government if our real goal is for a permanent military presence to secure the flow of oil?