Obama Waffle Watch
It’s illuminating to compare the statement on diplomacy with Iran that’s been on Barack Obama’s campaign web site for months…
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.
OBAMA HAS BEEN CONSISTENT THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “PRECONDITIONS” AND PREPARATION, THAT HE WOULD NOT SIT DOWN AS PRESIDENT WITH HOSTILE LEADERS WITHOUT HAVING DONE “THE APPROPRIATE GROUNDWORK”[Hey, easy on the bold caps, please. We hear you. – ed.]
Obama: Initial Meetings With Hostile Nations Would Start With Lower Level Aides; Bush Admin “Preconditions” Are Exactly What Need to Be Negotiated In These Meetings. Asked whether his idea of meeting with hostile nations consisted of “from the get-go of the President of the United States” or lower level aides, Obama said, “The latter. Understand what the question was. The question was a very specific question. Would you meet without preconditions? Preconditions as it applies to a country like Iran for example was a term of art. Because this administration has been very clear that it will not have direct negotiations with Iran until Iran has meet preconditions that are essentially negotiations with Iran until Iran has met preconditions that are essentially what Iran used and many other observers would view as the subject of the negotiations. For example, their nuclear program. The point is that I would not refuse to meet until they agree to every position that we want. But that doesn’t mean that we would not have preparation, and the preparation would involve starting with low level-lower level diplomatic contacts, having our diplomatic corps work through with Iranian counterparts, an agenda. But what I have said is that at some point I would be willing to meet. And that is a position, I mean, what’s puzzling is that we view this as in any way controversial, when this has been the history of U.S. diplomacy, until very recently. This whole notion of not talking to people, it didn’t hold in the ‘60s, it didn’’t hold in the ‘70s, it didn’’t hold in the ‘80s, it didn’’t hold in the ‘90s, against much more powerful adversaries; much more dangerous adversaries. I mean, when Kennedy met with Khrushchev, we were on the brink of nuclear war. When Nixon met with Mao, that was with the knowledge that Mao had exterminated millions of people. And yet we understood that we could advance our national security interests by at least opening up lines of communication. And this was bipartisan. And it’s a signal of how badly our foreign policy has drifted over the last eight years; how much it has been skewed by the rhetoric of the Bush Administration that this should even be a controversial proposition.” [Obama Press Avail, 5/15/08]
Obama: “Obviously There’s a Difference Between Pre-Conditions and Preparation.” Asked if he were still willing to meet without pre-condition during your first year with Fidel Castro, Kim Jung Il, Hugo Chavez, Obama said, “I do. Now, I did not say that I would be meeting with all of them. I said I’d be willing to. Obviously, there is a difference between pre-conditions and preparation. Pre-conditions, which was what the question was in that debate, means that we won’t meet with people unless they’ve already agreed to the very things that we expect to be meeting with them about. And obviously, when we say to Iran, ‘We won’t meet with you until you’ve agreed to all the terms that we’ve laid out,’” from their perspective that’s not a negotiation, that’s not a meeting.“ [Meet the Press, 11/11/07]
Obama Said There Was A Difference Between Preparation And Preconditions. The Kansas City Star reported, ”’The argument was that I would invite Hugo Chavez over to my house, and we’d pop open a beer and we’d start talking…That’s the lack of preparation. There’s no one that would meet another head of state without preparation. Preconditions refer to something specific. We’ve refused to talk to Iran until they meet preconditions.’ Obama admitted that his willingness to try a new approach to foreign policy was his way of rocking the political boat. ‘I’ve been trying to challenge some conventional wisdom.’“ [Kansas City Star, 8/20/07]
Obama: Nobody Expects You Would Meet with Hostile Leaders Without Having Done the Appropriate Groundwork. Obama said, ”Nobody expects that you would suddenly just sit down with them for coffee without having done the appropriate groundwork,“ he said. ”But the question was: Would you meet them without preconditions? And part of the Bush doctrine has been to say no.” [Washington Post, 7/27/07]
Good grief. Can you say, barrage of BS?