Better Than

Barack Obama, John McCain and George Bush traded barbs on negotiating with foreign adversaries this week. (Finally, some substantial issue debates.)

McCain and Bush said the previous eight years of indignation and imperialism toward the Middle East should continue. McBush said Obama wants to sit down with the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, which is something Obama refutes. 

Obama did say some dialogue with rivals would be healthy — like the six-party talks with North Korea. In a speech Friday, the Illinois senator cited John Kennedy‘s visits with Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev during the cold war, and Richard Nixon‘s meetings with China’s Mao Zedong after the U.S. learned he had killed many Chinese as prime examples of good diplomacy with stanch adversaries.

In “Conscious of a Conservative,” Republican senator Barry Goldwater said the U.S. should not negotiate with terrorists because we have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Discussions with rogue nations or groups like Iran or Hezbollah legitimize their motives once we sit across the table and listen to their points. If the U.S. then leaves the table without action, the U.S. loses.

Obama placed a much-needed caveat to this argument — there will be no parameters or goals in the talks. Without goals, communication has an opportunity to be candid and thrive. It would be naive to believe that substantial good could come from discussions with parties of very divergent opinions, but it’s pragmatic to start with diplomatic talks.

There is no good that comes from Hillary Clinton’s remark that she will nuke Iran if it attacks Israel.

Another problem in the Middle East is the U.S.’s blanket support of Israel. Surely, the U.S. cannot tolerate comments from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who calls for Israel to be be wiped off the map, but the blame isn’t one-sided. Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and rocket attacks into the West Bank shouldn’t have the support of the U.S.

In imperialist form, neo-cons prescribe democracy as a cure-all formula in the Middle East, yet look at Hezbollah, who is the democratically-elected majority in Lebannon.

As Obama rightly conceded Friday, he cannot foresee all the foreign-policy answers. His humility and new approaches are welcomed after an eight years of monstrosity.

Something diplomatic is better than nothing.



One response to “Better Than

  1. Pingback: Better Than Redux « The Gonzo Think Tank

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