Friday, May 16, 2008

An essential letter from a mother to a daughter

The young woman who received this is a graduate of one of the universities at which I have taught. She and her mother are among the millions of women who works hard so that the Democrats put Senator Clinton at the top of the ticket.

From mother to daughter:

E___,
Today a lot of people will be talking about the controversy that has arisen between Hillary's opponent and President Bush with regard to foreign policy and whether or not it makes sense for the US President to talk directly with the leaders of "rogue" states. The following information may come in handy as you talk with people about this.

Hillary's opponent will be giving a speech today to dispel the idea that he would be an "appeaser" if he were elected president. Some commentators are saying that President Bush's remarks at the Knesset yesterday were not aimed at anyone specific. They say that, when the Democrats jumped in and declared outrage at Bush's remarks, which Democrats say were aimed at them and/or their presumptive nominee, the Democrats unnecessarily made this a campaign issue for Obama. (The idea being, as Shakespeare so famously said, "methinks he doth protest too much.") In other words, these commentators say that Obama and the Democrats made this an election issue when really it would have passed by quickly if they hadn't commented on Bush's remarks at all.

In the course of the last 24 hours, spokespeople for Obama, including his foreign policy advisor Susan Rice, have stated on TV that he never said that he would talk directly to the leaders of terrorist-type countries, like Iran, without preconditions. As one TV anchor pointed out this morning, this is simply not true. On his web site, the following words appear under the "Blueprint" section. Note the language that I have bolded.

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.
I'm sure you remember the famous debate when Obama said that he would talk directly with leaders of rogue states without preconditions, and then the subsequent debates when he drew back a little and tried to talk about how he would have "preparations" before a conversation with rogue state leaders, but not "preconditions." I'm not sure what the difference is there.

Is there a move afoot to rewrite history in terms of what his position has been? If so, it makes one wonder what he really will do when in office. If in fact he has changed his position after reflecting on it more, it also makes one wonder if he has the judgement based on experience that one would want in the president of the United States of America. For, the view that preconditions are necessary and that presidential diplomacy should be used only in well-defined circumstances would seem to be Political Science 101.

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