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We Should Talk to Our Enemies

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Maikeru-sama, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. Maikeru-sama

    Maikeru-sama Mick Green 58

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    One of the sharpest and most telling differences on foreign policy between Barack Obama and John McCain is whether the United States should talk to difficult and disreputable leaders like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. In each of the three presidential debates, McCain belittled Obama as naive for arguing that America should be willing to negotiate with such adversaries. In the vice presidential debate, Sarah Palin went even further, accusing Obama of "bad judgment … that is dangerous," an ironic charge given her own very modest foreign-policy credentials.

    Are McCain and Palin correct that America should stonewall its foes? I lived this issue for 27 years as a career diplomat, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. Maybe that's why I've been struggling to find the real wisdom and logic in this Republican assault against Obama. I'll bet that a poll of senior diplomats who have served presidents from Carter to Bush would reveal an overwhelming majority who agree with the following position: of course we should talk to difficult adversaries—when it is in our interest and at a time of our choosing.

    The more challenging and pertinent question, especially for the McCain-Palin ticket, is the reverse: Is it really smart to declare we will never talk to such leaders? Is it really in our long-term national interest to shut ourselves off from one of the most important and powerful states in the Middle East—Iran—or one of our major suppliers of oil, Venezuela?

    During the five decades of the cold war, when Americans had a more Manichaean view of the world, we did, from time to time, cut off relations with particularly odious leaders such as North Korea's Kim Il Sung or Albania's bloodthirsty and maniacal strongman, Enver Hoxha. But for the most part even our most ardent cold-war presidents—Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, none of whom was often accused of being weak or naive—decided that sitting down with our adversaries made good sense for America. They all talked to Soviet leaders—men vastly more threatening to America's survival than Ahmadinejad or Chávez are now. JFK negotiated a nuclear Test-Ban Treaty with his mortal adversary, Nikita Khrushchev, just one year after the two narrowly avoided a nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis. Perhaps more dramatically, Nixon, the greatest anticommunist crusader of his time, went to China in 1972 to repair a more than 20-year rupture with Mao Zedong that he believed no longer worked for America.

    All of these cold-war presidents embraced a foreign-policy maxim memorialized by one of the toughest and most experienced leaders of our time, Israel's Yitzhak Rabin, who defended his discussions with Yasir Arafat by declaring, "You don't make peace with friends, you make peace with very unsavory enemies." Why should the United States approach the world any differently now? Especially now? As Americans learned all too dramatically on 9/11 and again during the financial crisis this autumn, we inhabit a rapidly integrating planet where dangers can strike at any time and from great distances. And when others—China, India, Brazil—are rising to share power in the world with us, America needs to spend more time, not less, talking and listening to friends and foes alike.

    The real truth Americans need to embrace is that nearly all of the most urgent global challenges—the quaking financial markets, climate change, terrorism—cannot be resolved by America's acting alone in the world. Rather than retreat into isolationism, as we have often done in our history, or go it alone as the unilateralists advocated disastrously in the past decade, we need to commit ourselves to a national strategy of smart engagement with the rest of the world. Simply put, we need all the friends we can get. And we need to think more creatively about how to blunt the power of opponents through smart diplomacy, not just the force of arms.

    Newsweek CONT'D
  2. DaBoys4Life

    DaBoys4Life Benched

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    no negotiation that's a sign of weakness!!
  3. Phrozen Phil

    Phrozen Phil Active Member

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    Maybe the question is: Do you want America to be feared or respected? The last eight years have been about brinkmanship and war. Unless some form of dialogue can exist, then war would likely become the inevitable option.
  4. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    the real answer is - it's not that simple.

    will iran go "wow, we hated bush but we'll stop nuclear ambitions now w/obama there cause he's cool".?

    i don't think so. they want israel dead so "talking" isn't the answer. it also does legitimize things that we critisize and that already puts you in a bad position.

    i am all for trying to talk it out but you can't just waltz over to their side and expect to be respected for doing so. if *they* want some changes then they need to come onto a common ground also...preconditions.
  5. Phrozen Phil

    Phrozen Phil Active Member

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    Fair enough. I'm not suggesting for a moment that anybody go "waltzing over", but I do think that, with a solid mandate, the new President could certainly approach the othr side from a position of strength. Bush was so utterly incompetent at diplomacy that he squandered much of the good will that was expressed after 9-11.

    The Iranians are full of bluster and hostility, but a more measured approach might get some better mileage in terms of getting them off their screaming and shouting routine.
  6. Trouble

    Trouble New Member

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    Just ask Israel how well it works by talking and making concessions with your enemies.

    Most of our true enemies are terrorist countries, and unfortunately violence is the only language they understand.



    :starspin
  7. Phrozen Phil

    Phrozen Phil Active Member

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    How do you think they made peace with Egypt? Consider history before you respond.
  8. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    if we do nothing *but* consider history, there will never be peace in that region.
  9. Jordan55

    Jordan55 Active Member

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    As Teddy Roosevelt, once said
    Walk Softly and carry a Big Stick, but in keeping with the subject you can see the success the Europeans have had with talking to Iran.
    And Reagen made it perfectly clear to Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI, in Libiya. Talking didn't work there either.
    In a perfect world maybe, this just in WASHINGTON (AP) - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has been convicted of lying about free home renovations and other gifts he received from a wealthy oil contractor. unfortunately the world isn't perfect, now lock this ******* up for a good period of time.
  10. Phrozen Phil

    Phrozen Phil Active Member

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    I'm all for doing something, but Israel made peace with Egypt based on a leap of faith by two leaders with vision. If you recall, the U.S. had a part in making that happen. Let's not forget a large group of Palestinians who have no ability to control their own destiny and no opportunity to return to the land of their birth. Until the issue of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is resolved, it will be tough to make meaningful progress. That's just for starters. I agree completely that Israel should have stable and secure borders and that it's neighbours should acknowledge it's right to exist, but it's not as simple as picking a side and ignoring the others.
  11. Trouble

    Trouble New Member

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    Go tell that to an Egyptian. In a recent poll conducted in Egypt, 94% of all Egyptians see Israel as thier #1 enemy. Egyptian military soldiers have been caught supporting and helping Hamas terrorist cross borders to inflict violence of Israel.

    Consider what's presently going on before you respond.




    :starspin
  12. joseephuss

    joseephuss Well-Known Member

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    Talking does not equal making concessions. You can have talks without negotiating. I don't see the problem with sending lower level administration officials had having initial talks with other countries. I truly don't.
  13. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    you mean like preconditions?

    so mccain is right? just wondering where you're going here.

    i'm all for opening up channels to talk. however, it must come from respect or you're gonna get bent over out of being nieve.
  14. Phrozen Phil

    Phrozen Phil Active Member

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    Is that the same poll that has McCain winning? ;)
  15. Trouble

    Trouble New Member

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    I never said it did.

    Israel has done both and look where it's got them.


    :starspin
  16. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    how many polls in egypt has mccain winning? :)

    fyi - my coworker is from egypt and he said best way to put it would be neutral. they want to protect their tourist industry and just want all that violence out of their country. he did say however if there was someone they didn't care for it would be hamas/palistinians and that he doubted very seriously egypt would help them at all.
  17. Trouble

    Trouble New Member

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    Right, it's the "FOX EGYPT" poll conducted by the "Republican Egyptian Party".



    :lmao2:
  18. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    The problem, IMO, is that Americans simply do not understand the Middle East. There culture is so different from ours that it is very difficult to find commen points of interest. What seems reasonable to us just doesn't apply many, many times.

    [IMG]

    This man's name was Anwar Sadat. He was the President of Egypt. In 79 or 80, he created a piece treaty with Isreal, the first of it's kind. The first Arab leader to recongnize Isreal as a nation. He won the Nobel Piece Prize for this. For this, they assasinated him.

    Now, you may say that this happened almost 30 years ago and you would be right. However, I would not make the mistake of thinking that just because this happened 30 years ago, things have changed so very much. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Omar Abdel-Rahman and al-Hamid Kishk were the main Culprets in this assasination. They may sound familiar to you. They should, Kishk was the spiratual leader of al-Azhar, and al-Zawahiri was the leader of Al-Queda in Egypt, the same person who landed in the Sudan in 1990, the same time Bn Laden was there, the same person who joined the Red Cresent in Pakistan and eventually helped found the Afghanistan factions of Al Qaeda and established relations with Iran, on behalf of Al Qaeda. Omar Abdel-Rahman was the Co-founder of an organization called MAK, Who was the other Co-Founder? That was Osama Bin Laden. Rahman was responsible for the training of the people who commited the 93 bombing of the World Trade Center. MAK would become the chief finance arm of Al-Qaeda and would finance terrorist opperations all over the world, including 9/11.

    American's don't know the Middle East. We don't understand how it works. A simple thing like preconditions may not seem like a big thing to us but in the eyes of Middle Eastern fanatics, it's all the difference in the world.
  19. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Egypt accepted the rights of Israel to exist that is a major concession for peace between the 2 countries. Talk is meaningless if the party you are dealing with has no intentions of making any concessions. US has been willing to lift sanction if Iran will stop enrichment they choose not to so there is nothing to talk about. Lower level people do keep contact with these nations but the top leaders should not sit down and legitimize these leaders.
  20. Maikeru-sama

    Maikeru-sama Mick Green 58

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    There is no problem with sitting down and talking to your enemies.

    I definately don't think speaking to an enemy is a sign of weakness.

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