20 May, 2008

The moment many have been waiting for...


Seems to be fast upon us. That is, the moment when the primary yields to the general, and Obama is able to fully engage McCain. Many of us have been hoping that Obama would be aggressive on national security especially, where Democrats have traditionally been timid -- allowing Republicans to be "strong and wrong", in the words of Bill Clinton.

This early skirmish on Iran is, in that sense, incredibly heartening. Obama is not just deflecting Republican attacks, he is going out of his way to raise the issue and stuff it down their throats. In Montana, he taunts McCain as being afraid of diplomacy:

Here's the truth: the Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear weapons and Iran doesn't have a single one. But when the world was on the brink of nuclear holocaust, Kennedy talked to Khrushchev and he got those missiles out of Cuba. Why shouldn't we have the same courage and the confidence to talk to our enemies? That's what strong countries do, that's what strong presidents do, that's what I'll do when I'm president of the United States of America.

So, you know, for all their tough talk, one of the things you have to ask yourself is what are George Bush and John McCain afraid of? Demanding that a country meets all your conditions before you meet with them, that's not a strategy; it's just naïve, wishful thinking. I'm not afraid that we'll lose some propaganda fight with a dictator. It's time for America to win those battles, because we've watched George Bush lose them year after year after year. It's time to restore our security and our standing in the world.

Awesome. He turns their accusations of wishful thinking back on them, and reveals their "appeasement" talk as the knee-jerk buffoonery that it is. He is aggressively articulating a progressive national security strategy that is both hard-nosed and hopeful. No more Obambi; he's going toe to toe with the Republicans on their sacred-cow issue, and, in my eyes, making a pretty clear and compelling case.

3 comments:

spencer said...

Moreover, it looks like Obama now ties or leads Clinton nationally in all of her top demographics:

http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/the_party_coalesces_around_oba.php

Cassady said...

It's like no one in the McCain camp, or Republicans-at-large for that matter, even understand what it means to be a diplomat.

What Obama said is exactly what diplomacy is: you talk! They're so concerned about going in with an agenda and seeing what can be foisted upon sovereign nations that those nations never even give us the chance. The US has been the used vacuum cleaner salesman of the diplomatic world for at least the past 8 years, and here comes Obama with the Tupperware party of success! They call it "appeasement," like being in the same room with our officials is the gold ring on the merry-go-round.

Sure, there's some good press, and a sense of legitimacy gained by meeting in a diplomatic fashion. They (as in, Obama's opponents) criticize him for saying he'll meet with certain groups because they aren't legitimate entities or some such--i.e. Hamas. Doesn't the fact that we can't just get rid of them mean they probably need to be dealt with as a real force? I think yes. It's not the same as negotiating with terrorists who are holding America hostage for some ransom, it's a diplomatic situation involving multiple parties with their own agendas; the only difference is that not all of them are countries.

Elliot said...

Well, first of all, Obama has never said he will meet with Hamas, or any other terrorist organization. The impression that he would is cultivated, however, by his opponents.

But yes, if McCain and Bush believe their own rhetoric, they actually don't know the functional definition of diplomacy. Obama's position is not particularly bold or even new; its a return to the basic norms of US foreign policy. Kennedy met with Kruschev, Nixon with China, Reagan with Iran and Gorbachev, Clinton with Arafat. Even W has recently pursued high level talks with North Korea. The fact that Obama's position is even controversial is a sign of how far to the radical, neoconservative right the debate has moved in the past 8 years.

Fortunately for everyone's sanity, prominent Republicans (Chuck Hagel, Reagan's Secretary of State Baker) have been shooting down this appeasement bullshit.