Bush’s Not Too Thinly Attack on Obama’s Approach to Iran

15 05 2008

In a speech today before the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem today, President Bush leveled a baseless not too thinly attack on Obama’s call for measured diplomatic engagement with Iran. The Great Decider told Israelis

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”

[snip]

Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

The fact that Dubya still thinks its useful to frame mid-East political affairs with WWII thinking is as telling as it is astounding. First of all, it suggests that the conventional state based lumbering armies of the last century with the nimble and roaming non-state terrorist organizations of the 21st century are parallel in scope or similar in nature. Of course, we now know that terrorist organizations finance, recruit, propagate their message very differently than states do and are probably much more effectively, albeit not exclusively, deterred and contained by intelligence driven law enforcement strategies.

Second of all, applying this WWII thinking to mid-east affairs is problematic because it also suggests that countries in the region with frosty relations with Israel or those critical of its treatment of Arab Israelis and Palestinians are surely be equated with the Nazi campaign to exterminate all Jews. Whatever you think about anti-Israeli sentiment in the middle east or elsewhere, this is not exactly the way to win hearts and minds in the Muslim world.

Thirdly, if Dubya is implying that since Obama is willing to engage Iran diplomatically, he is somehow betraying American interests, its just absurd on its face, considering how American and Iranian diplomats sat down together to craft a key agreement after the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan. The Bonn agreement as it provided for a reconstruction plan and offer financial aid to Afghanistan, a known irritant to the Iranians since the Taliban took over the Central Asian country.

In fact, Ambassador James Dobbins, one of the U.S. representative carryout out the negotiations, said:

On two occasions Iranian representatives made particularly memorable contributions. The original version of the Bonn agreement, drafted by the United Nations and amended by the Afghans who were present, neglected to mention either democracy or the war on terrorism. It was the Iranian representative who spotted these omissions and successfully urged that the newly emerging Afghan government be required to commit to both.

Too bad the Bush turned his back on the Iranians by placing them in the so-called Axis of Evil. Another instance of a flawed WWII analogy at work.

Fourthly, our own intelligence reporting confirms that the Iranians have disbanded their own nuclear weapons program in 2003. And, according to the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, they did so “primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure.”

In other words, diplomacy.

The same type of diplomacy that President Bush decries as appeasement.

With respect to national security, the GOP are going to run on fear this election cycle.

Fear of Obama because of his name.

Fear of Obama because wanting to talk to adversaries is tantamount to outright betrayal.

Fear of Obama because he is an unknown quantity and seemingly foreign.

Fear of making a black man Commander-in-Chief.

I don’t think its going to work on enough of the electorate to make it a viable strategy, but we’ll see.

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