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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fighting Over Diplomacy

By: Carlton Huffman

At this state of a lame duck president’s administration any attention or semblance of relevance is welcome. This is all the more true for President Bush whose negative rating has surpassed that of Richard Nixon at the height of Watergate. This week in Israel, honoring the 60th birthday of the Jewish state, the President lashed out at any idea of negotiating with Iran, Hamas, and Hizbollah; an idea surely to be warmly received by his audience. However his criticism ended up pitting the president and John McCain against the Democrat’s golden boy Barack Obama who believes in opening a dialogue with the Iranians.
The tough talk of McCain and Bush does have a sound basis in fact and logic. After all it is the Iranian Quds force which is training and arming Shiite extremists to kill American soldiers on the ground in Iraq. It is just as true that Iran’s president has made apocalyptic threats towards Israel and robust threats towards the United States should we intervene. With Iran seeking to arm itself with modern weaponry it would seem that our diplomats would have little to say to the Iranians in any presumptive talks.
On the flip side however so to does Barack Obama have a sound point with rich historic examples to draw upon. Despite the fact that Red China and Mao saw to the killing of 37,000 Americans in Korea and supplied weapons and support to the North Vietnamese Richard Nixon had no problem negotiating with the same man he once called a monster. FDR had no problem negotiating with “Uncle Joe” who remains the biggest mass murderer in history and had signed the Molotov-Ribbentropp agreement with Hitler that started World War II in the first place. Time after time Americans have sat down and dealt with our enemies in a diplomatic way to assuage differences and avoid potential conflict with dramatic results in the course of world events.
While the president is tempted to label Iran as the new Nazi Germany the comparison just doesn’t add up. Israel has at least 300 nuclear warheads, including missile submarines, alongside our arsenal of over 3,000 warheads that could make Iran the one who is wiped off the map. Just as we needed China to help negotiate a settlement to get us out of Vietnam, America needs to negotiate with Tehran to at least set the basis for the region’s future without American troops on the ground. We will not be over there forever and Iran will still be there regardless of the outcome. It is in both our nation’s interest to sit down at the table while America negotiates from a position of strength. Talk alone never solves a problem but so in fact does not talking.

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