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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Obama's Troubling Instincts

Karl Rove makes a point that I have been making for some time. Obama has said that he would be willing to meet with the leaders of rogue states without pre-conditions. While he has tried to walk that statement back, he still insists that meetings of that type would be fruitful.

Assuming that Obama's meetings would have the objective of advancing America's interests - an assumption that is not necessarily true - just how does Obama propose to achieve his aims?
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama said in Florida that in a meeting with the Iranians he'd make it clear their behavior is unacceptable. That message has been delivered clearly by Republican and Democratic administrations in public and private diplomacy over the past 16 years. Is he so naïve to think he has a unique ability to make this even clearer?

If Mr. Obama believes he can change the behavior of these nations by meeting without preconditions, he owes it to the voters to explain, in specific terms, what he can say that will lead these states to abandon their hostility. He also needs to explain why unconditional, unilateral meetings with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or North Korea's Kim Jong Il will not deeply unsettle our allies.

If Mr. Obama fails to do so, voters may come to believe that he is asking them to accept that he has a "Secret Plan," and that he is hopelessly out of his depth on national security.

Obama cites other meetings American leaders like Reagan and Nixon have had with their adversaries. But they were anything but unconditional.

On Monday, he said it was a show of confidence when American leaders meet with rivals; he insisted he was merely doing what Richard Nixon did by going to China.

I recommend that he read Henry Kissinger's book, "The White House Years." Mr. Obama would learn it took 134 private meetings between U.S. and Chinese diplomats before a breakthrough at a Jan. 20, 1970 meeting in Warsaw. It took 18 months of behind-the-scenes discussions before Mr. Kissinger secretly visited Beijing. And it took seven more months of hard work before Nixon went to China. The result was a new relationship, announced in a communiqué worked out over months of careful diplomacy.

The Chinese didn't change because of a presidential visit. In another book, "Diplomacy," Mr. Kissinger writes that "China was induced to rejoin the community of nations less by the prospect of dialogue with the United States than by fear of being attacked by its ostensible ally, the Soviet Union." Change came because the U.S. convinced Beijing it was in its interest to change. Then the president visited.

Ditto for Reagan's meetings with Soviet leaders.

Unconditional meetings is a position that Obama is stuck with and he created that position because it sounded good to the Left. There was no more substance to it than any other position Obama has taken. This empty suit is as devoid of understanding of global affairs as anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming president. The only thing Obama knows is politics, and he's got that down pretty well.

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