Charles Krauthammer wrote an excellent column which was published by the Washington Post today. In it he explains how Barack Obama has taken a gaffe (his saying that he’d meet with leaders of rogue states without precondition) and made it into the centerpiece of his campaign. Some excerpts (emphasis mine):
Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chávez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure — then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration’s refusal to do so not just “ridiculous” but “a disgrace.”
The Shanghai communique was largely written long before Richard Nixon ever touched down in China. Yet Obama thinks Nixon to China confirms the wisdom of his willingness to undertake a worldwide freshman-year tyrants tour.
Most of the time you don’t negotiate with enemy leaders because there is nothing to negotiate. Does Obama imagine that North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela are insufficiently informed about American requirements for improved relations?
There are always contacts through back channels or intermediaries…
Obama pretends that while he is for such “engagement,” the cowboy Republicans oppose it. Another absurdity. No one is debating the need for contacts. The debate is over the stupidity of elevating rogue states and their tyrants, easing their isolation, and increasing their leverage by granting them unconditional meetings with the president of the world’s superpower.
Obama cited Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as presidents who met with enemies. Does he know no history? Neither Roosevelt nor Truman ever met with any of the leaders of the Axis powers. Obama must be referring to the pictures he’s seen of Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, and Truman and Stalin at Potsdam. Does he not know that at that time Stalin was a wartime ally?
During the subsequent Cold War, Truman never met with Stalin. Nor Mao. Nor Kim Il Sung. Truman was no fool.
Obama cites John Kennedy meeting Nikita Khrushchev as another example of what he wants to emulate. Really? That Vienna summit of a young, inexperienced, untested American president was disastrous, emboldening Khrushchev to push Kennedy on Berlin — and then nearly fatally in Cuba, leading almost directly to the Cuban missile crisis. Is that the precedent Obama aspires to follow?
Yes, Charles. I’m afraid it is.