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One of Barack Obama's offhand YouTube debate answers from last year—that he would meet "without precondition" with the leaders of Iran, Venezuela and North Korea—has stuck to him ever since. Obama, who isn't much for admitting mistakes (assuming this was one), claims he's talking about a foreign policy in the tradition of FDR, Truman, and other presidents people liked. Clinton, McCain, and now Bush claim he's an easily-led appeaser. Yesterday McCain used a conference call with bloggers to attack Obama: "What do you want to talk about with him? President Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel is a 'stinking corpse'? That they want to wipe Israel off the map? That they continue to supply these terrible, most lethal, explosive devices that are killing young Americans? What do you want to talk to him about?"

But it seems ex-Clintonite Jamie Rubin, who interviewed McCain two years ago, has him dead to rights.

Rubin rubs it in: "For some Europeans in Davos, Switzerland, where the interview took place, that's a perfectly reasonable answer. But it is an unusual if not unique response for an American politician from either party. And it is most certainly not how the newly conservative presumptive Republican nominee would reply today." But "conservative" isn't the right word for what McCain's doing. "Pandering," maybe. "Moronic swill that he doesn't believe." If McCain's going to cash this check, after all, he's going to… what? Break off all communications with Iran? If they're funding terrorism, and we don't talk to people who fund terrorism, wouldn't you have to? Is the most offensive thing about Iran is that its president called Israel a "stinking corpse?" You'd think so, given how much the campaign reiterates that… but I can hardly think of a stupider reason to break ties with a foreign power than "their leader made a threat he can't back up!"

Related, this clip from yesterday's Hardball, in which Chris Matthews de-bones a war-hungry talk show host, is good for five or six laughs.

MATTHEWS: You are talking about a critical point in American history, in European history, and you can't tell me what Neville Chamberlain did in Munich. What did he do in '39, '38?

JAMES: Chris, Chris, Chris, I wasn't the one that raised the Hitler comment. My point is—my point is, what President Bush has done is, he has taken this shot across the bow, all right?

MATTHEWS: You don't know what you're talking about, Kevin. You don't know what you're talking about.

JAMES: … know what I'm talking about.

MATTHEWS: Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong.

JAMES: Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, Chris. Neville Chamberlain…

MATTHEWS: What did he do?

JAMES: Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, all right?

MATTHEWS: What did he do?

JAMES: Neville Chamberlain, his—but his policies, the things that Neville Chamberlain supported, all right energized, legitimized…

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what he did.

JAMES: … energized, legitimized, and made it easier for Hitler to advance in the ways that he advanced.

MATTHEWS: What…

MATTHEWS: I have been sitting here five minutes asking you to say what the president was referring to in 1938 at Munich.

JAMES: I don't know what the…

MATTHEWS: You don't know. Thank you.

You have to assume this spat is less about foreign policy principle and more about peeling 10 or 15 percent of the Jewish vote from Obama. Hey, what could be better for Israel than more empty threats and destabilizing regional wars?

Headline explained here.

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  1. I don’t see the hypocrisy here.

    McCain said “They’re [Hamas] the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another. . .”

    McCains’ statement doesn’t rule out preconditions before negotiation. McCain criticized Obama for saying no preconditions were necessary, and not just with Hamas, but North Korea, Iran, Etc.

  2. Barack Obama = Jimmy Carter.

  3. McCain is strangely impervious to the “flip-flopper” label. I don’t know why; maybe it’s because he just doesn’t seem like one.

  4. Neil, would you say that Spizzenergi’s “Where’s Captain Kirk” is the greatest Star Trek-themed song of all time?

  5. Not as good as the Captain Picard YTMND, Episiarch.

  6. What did Chamberlin do wrong? He let Hitler have Czechoslovakia for free. The fact is that the allies were in a position of strength in 1938. We know now that Hitler was not prepared to go to war over Czechoslovakia. The German war machine wasn’t ready and France and England would have crushed him. Further, had the allies back Czechoslovakia the Czechs could have put up a very good fight against the Germans. The Czech border was highly fortified and a much more difficult nut to crack than the Polish border. Czechoslovakia was the key to central Europe. No one was more surprised than Hitler when England and France sold it out. It was one of the reasons why Hitler invaded Poland. If England was unwilling to go to war over Czechoslovakia it was unthinkable they would go to war over Poland.

    Further, lets talk about the utter cowardice of the British during the phony war between September 1939 and May 1940. The German Army was not at full strength. All of its top units were engaged in Poland. In the fall of 1939, the western German border was defended by third rate units. The BEF was in France long before the Germans had their top units shifted from Poland back to the west. Further, the BEF and the French Armies were good Armies. They could have rolled the German units in the west, advanced into Rhineland and the war would have gone completely different. Von Manstein would have never been able to attack through the Ardennes and conquer France. We will never know and perhaps the top line German units would have conquered France anyway. But it is important to remember that the BEF and French Army was not as sad sack as most people think and the German Army itself was not nearly as advanced as people think. Their combined arms tactics were advanced but their equipment and numbers were not superior to France and England. France was conquered in 1940 not just because of the better combined arms of the Germans but because of the tactical audacity of Manstein in going through the Ardennes, which was a very risky move that could just as easily ended in destruction of a large portion of the German Army. Had England had any fighting spirit in the fall of 1940, Manstein would have never had that opportunity.

    Chamberlain was a coward who refused to face the reality that war in Europe was inevitable as long as Hitler remained in power in Germany. He deserves the approbation he gets.

    Is Obama really so ignorant of history that he thinks that Truman and Roosevelt talked to our enemies? Roosevelt never talked to Hitler. Further, a lot of people criticize Roosevelt for prolonging the war by demanding unconditional surrender from the Axis. Truman never met with the Soviets after the cold war started. It was Eisenhower who launched d?tente. Perhaps Obama just doesn’t know any better. I doubt if he took many history in college and he doesn’t strike me as the type to be reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in his spare time. But that statement was one of monumental historical ignorance. He ought to be called out for it.

  7. I think John should be the Conservative on hardball instead of Kevin James. Did they pick a stupid conservative on purpose because of their liberal bias, or what?

  8. Well done, Neil. You are on fire lately.

  9. By the way, I was referring to:

    Not as good as the Captain Picard YTMND, Episiarch.

  10. Episiarch,

    In a fit of synchronicity, I posted a house band song for Sulu Friday last night at Urkobold. The song’s called “George Takei Owns a Bank.”

    Neil is thoreau–I’m convinced.

  11. Let’s not forget the Palestine white paper that limited Jewish immigration into Palestine to 75,000. How many Jews were prevented from escaping the holocaust because of that?

  12. Or Roosevelt turning back that ship full of Jews.

  13. Abdul got to my answer before me.

  14. Abdul is right. Further, “dealing with them” does not necessarily mean negotiations. It might mean that, it might not. Regardless, McCain is right; if they are the government we can’t pretend they don’t exist.

  15. Neil is thoreau–I’m convinced.

    Maybe. Don’t count the moose out.

    “Captain Picard YTMND”. Brilliant.

  16. I loved that interview between Matthews & James. Most of these talking heads including Matthews don’t know what they’re talking about most of time.

  17. Maybe Bush should first purge the appeasers in his own cabinet.

  18. Since “dealing with them” can mean anything, I’m glad nothing was decided.

  19. Barack Obama = Jimmy Carter.

    Rather prescient, Neil. If you’ll recall, Carter won because of a near-universal disgust for an arrogant, corrupt administration. The only difference is, Bush & Cheney should have been impeached and resigned in disgrace, and a fumbling Hastert should have taken his place.

  20. I don’t think so. His postings lack the strange perversiosity of the Nordic Llama.

  21. I have to say this. What good ever came from refusing to talk to people? Talking isn’t appeasement. Look, if Iran annexes Austria, I say invade, okay?

  22. Yes, but part of an art project like Neil is becoming the character and making it believable–and not letting your own perversions shine through.

  23. BP,

    Not defending your opponent here but how does: “If you’ll recall, Carter won because of a near-universal disgust for an arrogant, corrupt administration.” square with Carter barely squeeking through a win against Ford? One would think that near-universal disgust would translate to a high margin, if not landslide for Mr. Carter.

  24. And if you elect Hussein, 2012 will be like 1980 with Bobby Jindal playing a young Ronald Reagan leading us to total victory.

  25. Speaking of that, where is VM? He’s been quiet lately. Too quiet.

  26. Speaking of that, where is VM? He’s been quiet lately. Too quiet.

    Being Neil takes time, dude. Ever seen VM and Neil on the same thread? Ever?

  27. And if you elect Hussein, 2012 will be like 1980 with Bobby Jindal playing a young Ronald Reagan leading us to total victory.

    And then the Great Wall of China will fall, and the Mongolians will be free to walk the streets of China?

  28. Is Obama really so ignorant of history that he thinks that Truman and Roosevelt talked to our enemies? Roosevelt never talked to Hitler.

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/interwar/fdr14.htm

  29. You have to assume this spat is less about foreign policy principle and more about peeling 10 or 15 percent of the Jewish vote from Obama.

    Why is this the CW? It seems much more blatantly to be a GOTV tactic targeted at right wing Evangelicals. Fear-mongering about Israel’s supposed vulnerability under Obama is the only issue McCain can credibly claim to have in common with the fundamentalists. In fact, McCain’s using his loud pro-Israeli government rhetoric in exactly the same way that Ahmadinejad is using his grotesque anti-Israeli rhetoric: To manufacture political support from people who disagree with the majority of his actual policies.

  30. Further, “dealing with them” does not necessarily mean negotiations.

    When you consider that John McCain lets his fists do his talking, negotiation takes on a whole new meaning.

  31. Barack Obama = Jimmy Carter.

    Hmm. Honkey Georgian peanut farmer cranky old man, and young affable lanky mulatto community organizer dude.

    I, too, see the resemblance.

    Of course, they both chat with Brzezinski on occasion. So, there’s that.

  32. “Look, if Iran annexes Austria, I say invade, okay?”

    PL,

    I agree with you, but that made me look at my world map. Armenia might be a bit easier for the Iranians to get to.

  33. Elemenope what they share is a fundamental weakness and cowardice towards America’s enemy, cmbined with a bumbling incompetence.

  34. Jeezuz… who is that clown Matthews smacked down? I have to say that exchange actually made me chuckle.

  35. OK Neil, a tough one now: what song by Kip Addotta was frequently on Dr. Demento’s yearly top 10 songs?

  36. Wow, that Troll filter really tidys up this forum.

    In other words, Neil, la la la, I can’t hear you!

  37. I wonder if Matthews would be that hard on McCain or Obama if he was interviewing them I’m guessing no.

  38. McCains’ statement doesn’t rule out preconditions before negotiation.

    Yes, it does. That’s what “we have to, one way or another” means. Not “we can, but only if they give in to our demands.”

    McCain criticized Obama for saying no preconditions were necessary, and not just with Hamas, but North Korea, Iran, Etc.

    No, he didn’t. He said there was literally no reason to talk to Hamas at all. Which is the exact opposite of what he said at Davos.

  39. Episiarch, that would be Wet Dream.

  40. “I have to say this. What good ever came from refusing to talk to people? Talking isn’t appeasement. Look, if Iran annexes Austria, I say invade, okay?”

    When you talk to brutal regimes it gives them legitimacy. Third rate dictators love to tell the world and their own people how important they are.

    You should only talk when you have something to talk about and some leverage. Otherwise, negotiations amount to asking them nicely. In the case of Iran, as it stands it is completely in their national interests to obtain nuclear weapons. It would make them much less vulnerable to attack and give them a much greater ability to intimidate their neighbors. Unless we have some way to make it in their interests to quit, talking to them about it is pretty pointless.

    Further, people never talk about what negotiations or talking mean. We are always talking as in communicating with Iran. There is any number of back channels through third parties where the two governments can communicate. If the Iranians have any desire to solve the conflict over their nuclear program, they know our phone number.

    When people like Obama say “talk” they mean having a big Potsdam like summit where King Obama gets to come in and made peace with the world. Those kind of talks are only productive if there are already existing parameters for a deal. Reagan didn’t meet with the Soviets and sign SARTII until 1986. It took five years of cold war and diplomacy to get that point and really that was a culmination of 40 years of cold war diplomacy. Those types of meetings are the end of the process of dealing with an adversary not the beginning.

    Obama acts like you can skip the middle part and just go have the big meeting and do a few photo ops and solve the whole thing. That is not how it works.

  41. Obama acts like you can skip the middle part and just go have the big meeting and do a few photo ops and solve the whole thing. That is not how it works outside of Chicago.

    Fixed.

  42. Neil, you are the best. Well done.

  43. Talking is ok, but only on OUR TERMS not theirs.

  44. I’ve got a feeling Obama would suck ass at foreign policy, too. I don’t think he’d be good at domestic policy, either, but just thinking about Carter-Obama comparisons, that part of it does strike me as apt for some reason. Not that I think Obama would necessarily be dovish. . .Carter actually wasn’t that dovish, either, not at the end.

    Actually, that’s one problem for McCain. Normally, the GOP candidate seems better on foreign policy, but I don’t think that’s the case this time around. In fact, we’re in big trouble unless the new POTUS appoints a great SOS and stays the hell out of foreign policy decisions.

    John,

    Talking to bin Laden, no. Talking to the head of Iran, why not? Don’t have to recognize their government, don’t have to send them candy at Easter, but talk? I think the whole rigamarole of talking but not officially talking is silly. You’re right, that’s exactly what we’re doing now. To little good effect.

    My position is to stop meddling in the Middle East, but that’s not going to happen, regardless of how long we occupy Iraq.

  45. Ck,

    From a McCain press release in January, 2006:

    “In the wake of yesterday’s Palestinian elections, Hamas must change itself fundamentally – renounce violence, abandon its goal of eradicating Israel and accept the two-state solution. These elections are evidence that democracy is indeed spreading in the Middle East, but Hamas is not a partner for peace so long as they advocate the overthrow of Israel.”

    Sounds to me like preconditions.

    I have to admit I was wrong to say that Obama would talk with Hamas. Apparently, Obama never said he was willing to talk with hamas w/o preconditions. Only Iran, Cuba, North Korea and other “states.” I’m unclear why he treats state and non-state actors differently, but, fwiw, he does.

  46. Isn’t the point here not whether talking is valid or not, but rather that McCain is a shameless panderer and reversed himself?

  47. good catch ck.

    And on the general theme of ‘FDR and Truman never talking to our enemies’ there’s this and this

  48. The presence of Neil makes it futile for me to try to write any sarcastic comments. It’s just unnecessary because I can’t do it as well as he can.

    < bows to neil >

  49. The problem with John’s post above is that it is based on the key phrase “we know now”. And quite frankly, the whole bologna rests on the idea that every American antagonist is Hitler. It’s a perpetual Godwinization.

    Thus, in the spirit of John, I accuse George W. Bush of being a weak kneed coward who is appeasing terrorists by being “the first American President to call for the creation of a Palestinian state.” (July 16, 2007 speech).

    How is this not appeasing the terrorists just like weak kneed Neville Chamberlain giving the Sudetenland to Germany?

  50. “Talking to bin Laden, no. Talking to the head of Iran, why not? Don’t have to recognize their government, don’t have to send them candy at Easter, but talk? I think the whole rigamarole of talking but not officially talking is silly. You’re right, that’s exactly what we’re doing now. To little good effect.”

    We already do talk to them. People act like the only way to “talk” to a government is to have some big summit. That is not true. Resolutions to conflicts are not worked out at summits. They are resolved and then you have the summit to finalize it. To give another example, the Israelis and the Egyptians had worked out the peace before Camp David. The media makes it sound like they were at each other’s throat and then by the magic of Jesus Carter they worked it out. That is not what happened. Until we can create an international effort for sanctions that will really hurt Iran and give them an incentive to stop their nuclear program or are willing to go to war unilaterally to stop it, there is no point in having a summit with Iran. All it would do is make us look weak like we are begging them to stop and give them good photo ops to look reasonable. I am all for having a summit with Iran once we have something to say and have some leverage over their behavior. But until then, it would be pointless and counter productive.

  51. Abdul,

    I have to admit I was wrong to say that Obama would talk with Hamas. Apparently, Obama never said he was willing to talk with hamas w/o preconditions. Only Iran, Cuba, North Korea and other “states.” I’m unclear why he treats state and non-state actors differently, but, fwiw, he does.

    Don’t sell your instincts short. I don’t think he has put a period on the end of his list yet.

  52. Ronald Reagan was a big giant communist appeaser when he met with Gorbechev in Iceland. Meeting with our enemies is the same as giving them the keys to the Sudetenland.

  53. Nixon – China: Appeasement!

  54. Maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten to be a BOF, but I’m amused by all the whining the Dems are doing about being tagged as appeasers. That was SOP for Cold Warriors thumping the drum for containment – even rollback! – prior to the fall of The Wall. It takes a Nixon to go to China became a cliche because that was Dick Frakking Nixon talking to Mao, not some IPS-advised McGovernite.

    Now, it could be that McCain’s jawboning the Arab and Iranian elites, so he can play Tricky Dick and they can play Chou, but in the short run he’s locking down all the core GOPers with an interest in protecting Israel, at a minimum.

    Let’s not forget the Reagan sent the ayotollahs a cake.

    Kevin

  55. “The problem with John’s post above is that it is based on the key phrase “we know now”. And quite frankly, the whole bologna rests on the idea that every American antagonist is Hitler. It’s a perpetual Godwinization.”

    Read the post Lamar. I never said every advasary was Hitler. It doesn’t say one word about the current situation. I was only making the historical point about Chamberlain and Matthews’ rediculous question, “What did Chamberaim do wrong”. He did a lot wrong.

    If you want to slam on my post, at least read the damn thing for what it is rather than as wish fullfillment.

  56. Kolohe,

    Nice point on what a traitor FDR really was. He made the Soviets our Allies when we should have just let them and their “superior Economic system” fend for themselves.

  57. We ‘talked’ to the Soviet Union for the entirety of the Cold War.

    And by being in the UN we’ve ‘talked’ to everyone for the last 60 years.

  58. what they share is a fundamental weakness and cowardice towards America’s enemy, combined with a bumbling incompetence.

    Because when thinking of the guy who out-flanked, out-fought, and out-fundraised the Hillary machine in the Democratic primary, the first term that comes to mind is ‘bumbling incompetence’.

    And when thinking of the promise to invade Pakistan (an ally!) to root out terr’rists, with the UN, no UN, fuck the UN, the first term that comes to my mind is ‘fundamental weakness and cowardice’.

    You and I, Neil. Right on the same wavelength.

    Episiarch: Neil, you are the best. Well done.

    Ain’t it so true?

  59. I’m confused. Which white guy is Obama? Or is he a muslim? or a relative of a 3rd world former dictator? or an african nationalist?

    he’s been so many things in the past year, its hard to keep track or even keep count. Tomorrow I’m thinking he’ll be michael moore..or maybe oprah…or maybe he’s just a completely different person than the everyone else and can’t be judged as comparitive to people that have come before…

  60. Nixon – China: Appeasement!

    Lamar are you really that fucking illiterate? Can you not understand the printed word? Nixon and China is a great example. Nixon didn’t meet with China until he realized they were at odds with the Soviet Union and there was an opportunity to make a deal and split them from the Soviets. That is a great example of a summit occurring after there already was parameters for a deal. If Johnson had gone to China in 1965, not a damned thing would have changed. It is the situation that creates the deal, not the mere fact of going.

  61. Isn’t the point here not whether talking is valid or not, but rather that McCain is a shameless panderer and reversed himself?

    If McCain has reversed himself on the talking with Hamas issue, the proof is not here. Stating that you have to deal with the fact that Hamas is gaining legitimacy in Palestine is different from saying you are going to cut deals with Hamas.

  62. reading through John’s followups, I don’t disagree with him as much as I initially did.

  63. Abdul,

    Yes, in that press release he describes preconditions. And in the interview with Rubin, he said “sooner or later, one way or another.” These two claims can’t be reconciled. Unless you think he meant, “sooner or later, Hamas will give up violence, and then we’ll have to talk to them.” Which is nonsensical – similar to his “at some point, American troops will stop dying in Iraq, and THEN we can stay for another 100 years” line.

  64. Ronald Reagan was a big giant communist appeaser when he met with Gorbechev in Iceland.

    You mean when he did not give in to any Soviet demand and yelled at Gorbedhev for not agreeing with him?

    That is appeasement?

    (maybe you were joking and I missed it, if so, oops!)

  65. I was only making the historical point about Chamberlain and Matthews’ rediculous question, “What did Chamberaim do wrong”. He did a lot wrong.

    You have totally misunderstood the point Matthews was making. Did you even watch the clip? He doesn’t say that Chamberlain did nothing wrong. At the end, he explicitly lists the things Chamberlain did wrong.

    His point is that know-nothing reflexive hawks constantly invoke Chamberlain without having the slightest idea what actually happened in 1938 and to what extent it is actually analogous to situations we face today.

  66. “You mean when he did not give in to any Soviet demand and yelled at Gorbedhev for not agreeing with him?

    That is appeasement?”

    He also met with Gorbechev, not with Breznev, Cherynko or Andropov. If you listen to Obama you would think that he could have just met with Breznev in the spring of 1981 and solved the whole thing. Why did that war monger wait for a new Soviet regime and five years before he did it?

  67. “You mean when he did not give in to any Soviet demand and yelled at Gorbedhev for not agreeing with him?

    That is appeasement?”

    Yes, because according to the current GOP view, merely speaking to our enemies is appeasement. It doesn’t matter what is said. The simple fact of meeting constitutes the appeasement.

  68. You mean when he did not give in to any Soviet demand and yelled at Gorbedhev for not agreeing with him?

    Well, that’s the stupidity of this attack on Obama. He’s saying “I’ll meet with them,” not “I’ll give Hugo Chavez half of Florida if he’ll be nice to us.”

  69. Andropov lasted like, what, a year?

  70. That is appeasement?

    Way to move the goalposts.

    Pardon me, but listening to the right wing leaning blowhards on this thread and to the right wing politicians:
    TALKING WITH OUR ENEMIES = APPEASEMENT.

    None of you stated that demands had to be given in to. Until of course reality showed that your heroes were appeasers by that standard.

    Pick a standard and stick to it you dishonest twits.

  71. “Well, that’s the stupidity of this attack on Obama. He’s saying “I’ll meet with them,” not “I’ll give Hugo Chavez half of Florida if he’ll be nice to us.”

    If it’s the southern half, we won’t miss it.

  72. “His point is that know-nothing reflexive hawks constantly invoke Chamberlain without having the slightest idea what actually happened in 1938 and to what extent it is actually analogous to situations we face today.”

    No I don’t watch that show. If that is what Mathews is saying he is to some extent right in that it is not always 1938. That said, nations are always going to act in their interests and those interests are not always going to be ours. If the Hawks are wrong in thinking it is alway 1938, the doves are equally wrong in thinking that we can always negotiate our way out of everything.

  73. Well, that’s the stupidity of this attack on Obama. He’s saying “I’ll meet with them,” not “I’ll give Hugo Chavez half of Florida if he’ll be nice to us.”

    He’s saying “I’ll give Hugo Chavez all the legitimacy and prestige that comes with meeting the leader of the only superpower in exchange for his anti-American activities all these years. Oh, and sorry Columbia, but if you want the same, try being less of an ally and more of an antagonist.”

  74. CT,

    Yea, right, yea you really are reading in good faith. Gotcha.

  75. If the Hawks are wrong in thinking it is alway 1938, the doves are equally wrong in thinking that we can always negotiate our way out of everything.

    Yes, the two most extreme positions possible are incorrect.

  76. I understand the not-giving-legitimacy argument and even agree with it to some extent, but, in the end, it’s what serves our interests and what is the right course of action that most matters. If Rice met with the Iranian leadership on an official level, our disdain for Iranian policy, etc. doesn’t just disappear, nor does mere discussion remove their pariah status.

  77. Andropov lasted like, what, a year?
    and Cheryenko’s rule could be measured in weeks.

  78. He’s saying “I’ll give Hugo Chavez all the legitimacy and prestige that comes with meeting the leader of the only superpower in exchange for his anti-American activities all these years

    The don’t we do business with his nation? Wouldn’t that make him inherently legitimate?

    Abdul I don’t get your reasoning.

    The leaders of foreign nations that we have dealings with are in fact legitimate.

    What do you propose? That the US treat any foreign leaders who have political views that run counter to mainstream America be treated as illegitimate?

  79. Why is it that when people point out how John’s arguments are wrong, he suddenly turns into Cathy Young?

  80. Yea, right, yea you really are reading in good faith. Gotcha.

    Care to dispute the fact being pointed out by me and others? Or explain how I am misreading the nonsense coming out of the mouths of you and your ilk? Or would you prefer to merely reply with snark when called out for moving the goalposts?

    You can’t have it both ways. If Obama is an “appeaser” for believing we should talk to our enemies, then so is Reagan. Both are or both aren’t — but you don’t get separate standards for “your guys”.

  81. Only Nixon could appease China.

  82. One would think that near-universal disgust would translate to a high margin, if not landslide for Mr. Carter.

    Guy – for one thing, Carter wasn’t running against Nixon. If you believe that matchup would have been something other than a landslide, well… I don’t know what to say.

    For another thing, he was Jimmy Carter. That he won a national election at all can only be explained by “right time, right place”.

  83. CT,

    Yes, more of the same from you, huh? Sounds like you are a bit too emotional for this thread, especially with anybody who does not agree with your every word.

    Here, in simple terms:
    Appeaser==No preconditions to meeting up with the enemies of ours and our allies; see Nancy Pelosi, James Earl Carter, Jr., Sen. Obama.

    Non Appeaser==Might meet with almost anybody, but certain conditions must be met by our foes.

    No, I will not ansewe your predictibly silly followup to all of the hypothetical conditions that could be desired.

    Your 12:03pm post was a bigger load of crap than even Neil could drem up.

  84. Did I miss something? Did Obama say that he wanted to have summits with Iran, NK, etc?

  85. To the “don’t legitimize” people:

    When is Iran’s government legitimate and when isn’t it? Is it only legitimate when its been installed by us?

  86. When people like Obama say “talk” they mean having a big Potsdam like summit where King Obama gets to come in and made peace with the world.

    We already do talk to them. People act like the only way to “talk” to a government is to have some big summit.

    Apparently, there isn’t anything in Barack Obama’s statements that partisan Republicans can object to, so they have to make shit up.

    See, it’s ok to have fine, upstanding, Republican negotiations. Just not big, Democratic appeasement summits. And we know that when Barack Obama says “talk” and “meet” and “deal with,” he’s not using those terms to mean the same things that John McCain means. Of course not – he’s a Democrat, you see.

    Only Republicans can talk about talks. When Democrats do it, it’s appeasement.

  87. Abdul,

    The mere fact that we have an embassy, etc. in Venezuela means that we treat the Chavez regime as a legitimate one.

  88. BP,

    Guy – for one thing, Carter wasn’t running against Nixon. If you believe that matchup would have been something other than a landslide, well… I don’t know what to say.

    I don’t either, so go back to the post I was commenting on and figure it out.

  89. Shorter Guy Montag:

    Dems = Cowardly Pussified Appeasers!

    GOPers = Smart Non-Appeasing Tough Negotiators.

  90. Andropov lasted like, what, a year?
    Yeah, I remember that. “Bury Yuri in a Hurry” and such headlines.

    Er, wait…that was Saturday Night Live.

  91. ChicagoTom and Colin Clout,

    You seem to read “legitimate” to mean that Venezuela, Iran, North Korea all meet the basic criteria for a sovereign state, and the US would have to deal with them as such. To that extent, you are right. I don’t propose dealing with Venezuela the way some nations treat Taiwan or Israel–denying their soveriegnty and all diplomatic recognition.

    By “legitimate” I was trying to convey the idea that a meeting with the POTUS confers a certain status upon the leader of the nation. If the Prime Minister of Canada calls, the president will pick up the phone because we have a certain level of respect for Canada. If Chavez calls, the president can direct him to voice mail because he hasn’t treated us with respect.

  92. There is an actual, non-pulled-out-of-Guy-Montag’s-ass definition of appeasement: to offer concessions to one’s enemies, to give in to their demands, in an effort to keep them from being hostile.

    In the case of Chamberlain, he agreed to give in to the Germans’ demands at Munich, and to reneg on Britain’s mutual defense treaty with the Czechs.

    This is why it was so idiotic that the Bushies were throwing around the word “appeasement” prior to the Iraq War. The “appeasement” position was to compel Saddam Hussein to admit weapons inspectors at the point of a gun, so they could poke around his country’s secret military facilities and disarm him. Not exactly handing him the keys to the western third of a Chechoslovakia.

    And why their use of the term is so stupid today: they are using the term as a synonym for having any diplomatic contact, regardless of the substance, the outcome, or the position argued by the American side.

    Of course, we’ve seen how that turned out in North Korea. George Bush spent six years congratulating himself for not talking to evil, and evil got ICBMs and the warheads to load on them. Which is why even he had to flip-flop, listen to Powell and Rice, and hold talks. Many, Republican talks. You know, the kind that went almost exactly like the talks held under that big appeaser, Clinton.

  93. If the Prime Minister of Canada calls, the president will pick up the phone because we have a certain level of respect for Canada.

    Maybe you should have picked a country who we actually pay attention to, like Britain or France.

  94. Based on the Bushies’ handling of the nuclear technology negotiations with India, they are apparently arguing in good faith whey they conflate the existence of a diplomatic process with abject acceptance of the other party’s terms.

    They really do seem to think that this is how diplomacy works.

  95. Abdul,

    By “legitimate” I was trying to convey the idea that a meeting with the POTUS confers a certain status upon the leader of the nation.

    That depends on how the meeting goes, doesn’t it? A deft leader could come out of a no preconditions meeting with the status of his opposite diminished, right?

  96. Does this mean that Bush’s voicemail is clogged with messages from Chavez? “George, pick up. Pick up. Pick up, cabron!”

  97. By “legitimate” I was trying to convey the idea that a meeting with the POTUS confers a certain status upon the leader of the nation. If the Prime Minister of Canada calls, the president will pick up the phone because we have a certain level of respect for Canada. If Chavez calls, the president can direct him to voice mail because he hasn’t treated us with respect.

    There a pretty big gap between talking to a nation at all, and taking their calls any time they call you.

    By this standard, you’re whole legitimacy stance is even sillier (no offense). Obama never suggested a Hotline to his administration, just that the his administration would be willing to meet with them. That’s a far cry from what you seem to be talking calling “legitimizing”.

  98. That Matthews clip is the best!

    The really is the level of thought and knowledge behind this “appeasement” language.

    Dude couldn’t even come up with the words “Munich” or “Czechoslovakia.”

  99. That depends on how the meeting goes, doesn’t it? A deft leader could come out of a no preconditions meeting with the status of his opposite diminished, right?

    I can’t get a meeting with a big Hollywood director about being cast in a movie because the directors don’t see me as legitimate. George Clooney can, because he’s seen as legitimate. He may not get cast, but just scheduling the meeting shows that Clooney is respected.

    It’s hard to see how the POTUS would school Chavez or Kim Jong Il in a meeting when he can’t get them to agree to some basic ground rules before they come into the room.

  100. wait…chris matthews was interviewing kevin james…the king of queens???

    “what did chamberlain do wrong?”

    “he appeased…he did the old appeasement thing…appeasarino…oh whaddaya want me to say…HE APPEASED…APPEASED…APPEASED…god i need food…CARRIE!!!”

  101. I can’t get a meeting with a big Hollywood director about being cast in a movie because the directors don’t see me as legitimate. George Clooney can, because he’s seen as legitimate. He may not get cast, but just scheduling the meeting shows that Clooney is respected.

    Sort of like how the President might want to talk to people that have power in the country in question, even if they might not get the part?

  102. Why do you want to give our sworn enemies prestige and legitimacy on the world stage, Joe?

    Obama, like his role model Carter is an appeaser.

  103. Abdul,

    They’re already heads of state. The comparison is not to some shlub on the street who wants a role, but to an established actor that the director doesn’t like.

    BTW, Obama has stated that there would be “preparations” before the meetings, but not “preconditions.” In the oh-so-nuanced world of diplomacy, the former refers to the “ground rules” about the meetings that you mention, while the latter refers to changes in behavior and policy – not in the conference room, but in their actions in the world – that the other party must agree to prior to the meeting being held.

  104. McCain is fairing much better already among Jews than flip-flop Kerry did in 2004.

  105. Neil,

    Why do you want to give our sworn enemies prestige and legitimacy on the world stage, Joe?

    Heads of state already have prestige on the world stage. Do you mean, why do I want to engage in diplomacy with Iran? Why, to get stuff from them, obviously. Why else would anyone engage in diplomacy?

    Obama, like his role model Carter is an appeaser.

    There is an actual, non-pulled-out-of-Guy-Montag’s-ass definition of appeasement: to offer concessions to one’s enemies, to give in to their demands, in an effort to keep them from being hostile.

    I defy you tame a single concession Jimmy Carter made under threat from a hostile power.

    Oh, and Neil? Why do you still want Israel to face the threat of a two-front invasion along its borders with Egypt and Jordan?

  106. Abdul,

    It’s hard to see how the POTUS would school Chavez or Kim Jong Il in a meeting when he can’t get them to agree to some basic ground rules before they come into the room.

    Actually, I think it is easy to see. Just make the meeting open to reporters. If they refuse to come to such a meeting, it would be a public relations coup for the POTUS.

    Anyway, these folks are already viewed with ‘respect,’ which is why we have both open and back channel talks with them.

  107. Wouldn’t Obama’s invoking of previous presidents who talked to our enemies been a better point if he had instead named presidents who avoided war by talking instead of presidents who ended up going to war anyway?

  108. Neil, Coke or Pepsi?

  109. McCain is fairing much better already among Jews than flip-flop Kerry did in 2004.

    John Kerry won 75% of the Jewish vote in 2004.

    John McCain is getting approximately 30% of the Jewish vote in the polls.

    Is there any point where the things you write intersect with the objective world, Neil? Ever, anywhere?

  110. Jimmy Carter was weak in the face of Iranian threats, and he legetimized their power.

  111. To be fair to Hollywood directors:

    They don’t talk to you because its not cost-effective. They don’t have time and money to talk to every random person. If they did, they would LOVE to be able to find every next big actor/screen-play before the other studios.

    This has little to do with a President trying to create an amicable situation between us and another country.

  112. Yea, CT, I really assaulted a whole party and hailed another, yea, I was right the first time.

    Wanna fabricate my being a McCain supporter next?

    I think TNR is saving an intern position for you, but The Nation might make you a better offer.

  113. If it wasn’t for Carter and his wishy-washy human rights BS the shah would still be in power and we wouldn’t face an Islamofascist sate with nukes.

  114. Neil | May 16, 2008, 12:52pm | #

    Jimmy Carter was weak in the face of Iranian threats, and he legetimized their power.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings, Reverend Wrong.

    Now, would you please name for a us a single concession that Jimmy Carter agreed to from the Iranians?

  115. What any future POTUS’ foreign policy will look like will depend on two factors that he or she will not be able to easily to control: inertia and contigency.

  116. OT: Just got to see Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band play that horrid James Marshall Hendrix tune, Purple Haze. I prefer the Gary Sinise band rendition.

  117. Lamar are you really that fucking illiterate? Can you not understand the printed word? Nixon and China is a great example. Nixon didn’t meet with China until he realized they were at odds with the Soviet Union and there was an opportunity to make a deal and split them from the Soviets. That is a great example of a summit occurring after there already was parameters for a deal. If Johnson had gone to China in 1965, not a damned thing would have changed. It is the situation that creates the deal, not the mere fact of going.

    You ought to read some history before you go fisking. The Sino-Soviet split began well before 1965. The PRC government in 1971-72 was as evil as any in history, and Nixon’s visit definitely helped legitimate Mao.

  118. Here, Neil, let me show you what it looks like:

    In 1938, Neville Chamberlain adopted an appeasement policy, and agreed to the Germans’ demands that Britain withdraw from its mutual-defense treaty with Czechoslovakia and allow the Germans to occupy the Sudentenland.

    Now, your turn: in ___________________, Jimmy Carter adopted an appeasement policy, and agreed to the _____________________s’ demands that America _________________________, and allow ____________________ to __________________.

  119. Remember all, indecision the is key element of flexibility.

  120. I’m sure Guy can tell you what James Earl Carter did Joe.

  121. Neil, if you don’t know enough about Jimmy Carter’s policies and actions to even tell us what they were, then how do you know they amounted to appeasement?

    O. Right. He’s a Democrat. Any diplomacy conducted by a Democrat is, by definition, appeasement. That’s what appeasement means, in Republican Newspeak.

  122. Look, when you use appeasement, you just make an ape pee in your basement.

  123. There is a fair point to be made that poorly-executed diplomacy can lead to enhancing the other party’s prestige, without accomplishing anything.

    For example, Cheney going to Saudi Arabia and failing.

    Put me down as OPPOSED to poorly-executed diplomacy. I vote Nay.

  124. Actually, Carter screwed up in not trying to rein in the Shah. As with most things, the matter was made more complex due to the Soviet Union. Soviet intervention was a real possibility.

    joe,

    Carter did manage to let the Iranians keep our hostages. That was appeasement-like. I can appreciate his reasons, but even Chamberlain had reasons. Carter was torn between his human rights push at the beginning of his administration and his more hawkish moves later, due more to Soviet aggression than to Iran. He really wasn’t a very good president.

  125. Mr. Carter did a great deal of appeasing the Soviets in Europe, that whole business of getting the Europeans to agree to more forward missile basing, at great political risk to the European leaders, and then yanking them off the table the first time the Soviets hinted at a boo!

    Afghanistan, more appeasing. Don’t even start with that stupid Olympic boycott. And if you want to point to Charlie Wilson’s War, that was done in spite of Mr. Carter’s wishes, not at his initiation.

    No, I am not jumping into the silly discussion that two(?) people I generally ignore are pretending to have.

  126. No, I am not jumping into the silly discussion that two(?) people I generally ignore are pretending to have.

    It surely is Opposite Day, today.

  127. PL,

    Don’t forget about Mr. Carter all-but pulling out of South Korea. Kinda backfired on him with the South Koreans developing an incredibly strong and robust military on their own. They even sold OH-6 helicopters at inflated prices to the North so that they could buy better gear.

  128. Pro Libertate,

    Carter did manage to let the Iranians keep our hostages. That was appeasement-like. No, he didn’t. He took military action (which failed) to rescue them, and gave the Iranians exactly nothing.

    There are plenty of accusations one can make towards Mr. Carter regarding that affair, but appeasement is not one of them, unless you’re simply redefining it to mean “bad stuff.”

    Guy’s missile example is better, although that’s a borderline case, too. We didn’t actually give anything to the Soviets that they wanted. The Afghanistan one is lame, though. We gave the Soviets’ exactly nothing, and in fact, took action against them.

    Regardless, Neil’s accusation was about Iran, so I asked him about that.

  129. Don’t forget about Mr. Carter all-but pulling out of South Korea. Kinda backfired on him with the South Koreans developing an incredibly strong and robust military on their own. They even sold OH-6 helicopters at inflated prices to the North so that they could buy better gear.

    Uh, if the outcome of his actions was a stonger, better-defended South Korea taking more responsibility for its own defense, how is that “backfiring?” In non-Bizarro-world, that is exactly what Carter was trying to achieve.

    Of course, in Bizarro-world, Jimmy Carter was really hoping that the Kim Il Sung would take over South Korea.

  130. Joe it was about appeasement in general and Guy did a great job.

    Bottom line is Democrat Presidents are weak on foreign policy, Republicans strong and robust, and its been like this since the late 60s.

  131. Your “strong, robust” foreign policy got North Korea nuclear-tipped missiles, Hamas control of a government, and the Iranian resistance crushed.

    But I’m sure all of that time you spent patting yourselves on the back felt good, and that’s what really matters.

  132. “That is a great example of a summit occurring after there already was parameters for a deal.”

    Wow. So, talking with our enemies is appeasement unless there is already a workable deal in place, in which case striking a deal with our enemies is not appeasement?

    Looking back at past administrations, it is clear that the current “appeasement” argument is a bunch of BS. The only way to distinguish our talks with the Chinese, Russians and the Iranians (in the 1980s) and the current definition of “appeasement” is party identification.

  133. Actually, I think it is easy to see. Just make the meeting open to reporters. If they refuse to come to such a meeting, it would be a public relations coup for the POTUS.

    Requiring the presence of reporters sounds like a precondition. And there’s a reason that meetings between heads of state–even friendly ones–aren’t covered by reporters. The heads of state need a bit of privacy so they can talk freely without worrying how it’ll be reported in the newspaper.

  134. Neil-speak:

    Strong, robust foreign policy = Israel’s war against Hezbollah, the Iraq War. This makes your country stronger.

    Weak, appeasing foreign policy = Israel negotiating with Egypt in 79 and with Jordan in the 90s. This makes your country weaker.

  135. Weak=what Clinton did when Osama was offered up on a silver platter and he didn’t take him.

  136. You mean like when Zarqawi was offered up before the Iraq War, and Bush didn’t take him?

    Anyway, it’s clear that this isn’t about “appeasement,” which you’ve been utterly unable to discuss. It’s about your “bottom line” – Democrats bad, Republicans good.

    That’s all this was ever about. There is no meaningful discussion of foreign policy here.

  137. I think Guy’s examples are good ones, better than mine. What is appeasement? Remember, the initial appeasement of Chamberlain was allowing a fait accompli, not giving more. Carter pretty much allowed the Iranians to hold our hostages, not even attempting much until quite late in the game.

    Incidentally, did Reagan appease the Iranians? I think one must say yes, though I understand his reasons. Again, everything back then was about the Soviets.

  138. Abdul,

    Is it part of the “preperation” or a “precondition?”

    The heads of state need a bit of privacy so they can talk freely without worrying how it’ll be reported in the newspaper.

    That assumes that “talking freely” would be the future POTUS’ primary motive, doesn’t it? Anyway, I can see all sorts of ways that such a meeting could be used to this nation’s advantage.

  139. Pro Libertate,

    Well, because of Munich the general perception seems to be that appeasement is always a bad thing. So the question is, is it always a bad thing? Or is it simply a tool via which to make pragmatic choices?

  140. Appeasement is giving concessions to your enemies in the hope that they will agree to stop further aggression.

    The Sudentenland was NOT a fait accompli. Hitler didn’t go in until after the British and French agreed to abandon the Czechs.

    Carter pretty much allowed the Iranians to hold our hostages, not even attempting much until quite late in the game. Yes, he could have offered all sorts of things that the Iranians wanted to get them back, but he didn’t. This isn’t appeasement, it’s the opposite of appeasement. He didn’t give them anything. He made no concessions at all.

  141. Or is it simply a tool via which to make pragmatic choices?

    More like the preferred tool of ‘tools’.

  142. Incidentally, did Reagan appease the Iranians?

    No. He made a quid-pro-quo deal. He wasn’t trying to buy off the Iranians so they would cease being aggressive, but to purchase their services in securing the release of hostages.

    Appeasement is when you give Fat Tony and envelope every week so he doesn’t break your legs. When you give him money to get you a stolen car or beat up the guy who’s bothering your daughter, that isn’t appeasement. It’s something else.

  143. Pro Libertate,

    Case in point, were the concessions granted by the USSR and the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis a form of appeasement?

  144. joe,

    Come on. You can keep Munich. No more concessions.

    In any case, one man’s appeasement is another man’s freedom fighter. I don’t think the U.S. has to worry about appeasing nation-states, because we can deal with them or with others inspired by our generosity. Where appeasement begins to be a problem is with expansionistic or potentially expansionistic countries that cannot be hemmed in or with terrorists. It’s the encouraging of similar future behavior that makes appeasement bad.

  145. Guy Montag,

    Which was the perferable outcome: the launching of missiles from Cuba to the U.S. and our response or the concessions that both the US and the USSR agreed to?

  146. The Romans used to buy off barbarian tribes with a little gold, in exchange for their not looting Roman provinces.

    They could have sent a few legions and taken care of those tribes if they were so inclined, but that would have cost more, and screwed up other plans they had for their legions.

  147. Colin Clout,

    I will not concede to your limited universe of responses.

    BTW, the Soviets had incredibly limited ICBM delivery capability at the time and JFK knew it, but those short range, armed missiles already on the coast of Cuba, with their commanders having nuclear release authorization already, that could have been a little problem. He did not know about the latter.

  148. Anyway, is meeting without preconditions a form of appeasement? Probably not.

  149. Joe,

    Appeasement is what we have been doing with North Korea since 1994. We are paying them in hopes they don’t break our legs. Truthfully, appeasement isn’t always the worst option. It is never a good option but sometimes the other options are worse.

    If what you say about Obama is true, then he is no different than what we have now. Bush has been talking to the Iranians and trying to get them to stop from going nuclear for eight years. The question is what does Obama bring to the table? You can’t just say “I will rely on diplomacy”. That is meaningless bullshit. “Diplomacy” could mean anything.

    The hard truth is that the Iranians are going to build the bomb unless we give them a reason not to. We can give them a reason not to by paying them like we have in North Korea, which hasn’t worked out so well. We can give them a reason to stop by getting the Russians, Europe and the Chinese to sign up to real sanctions that would hurt their economy. But, thus far no one has managed to convince the world to do that. If Obama has a plan to do that, I would like to hear it. We can give them a reason to stop by threatening to bomb them into the stone age. Right now, no one would support us in that and we would have to do it unilaterally. Again, if Obama has a plan to get the world to support such a plan I would like to hear it. Lastly, we can just do nothing and live with a nuclear Iran. Maybe Obama thinks that is the solution. Some people do. If so I would like to hear his explanation why he thinks that is a good idea.

    What I don’t want to hear is meaningless calls for “diplomacy” without any idea of what the diplomacy is supposed to accomplish. That is just political horseshit.

  150. Guy Montag,

    Most of the delivery capacity was via planes and shells actually. The shells would had done a world of hurt to parts of Florida. As for authorization, that was given and withdrawn a number of times – which could have led to confusion if things had gotten hotter on the ground. Plus there was all that business with the Soviet submarines which could have gotten out of control.

  151. “BTW, the Soviets had incredibly limited ICBM delivery capability at the time and JFK knew it, but those short range, armed missiles already on the coast of Cuba, with their commanders having nuclear release authorization already, that could have been a little problem. He did not know about the latter.”

    They were also under orders to fire if they were attacked. Had Kennedy bombed Cuba it would have been World War III. Also, Castro arguing for launching a unilateral attack with them after the blocade and the cooler heads in the Soviet Union said no. The more I think about the cold war the more I wonder how it is that we are still alive.

  152. John,

    Why exactly would the PRC support your proposal?

  153. You can only lose when negotiating with a bad faith partner. We learned that in the 1990s with N Korea.

    What happens is, they say “Give us A,B and C and we’ll agree to whatever you want.” They take A,B and C and renege on their part, leaving you SOL.

  154. joe,

    Worst example, ever. The Western Empire arguably fell because of its failure to deal with the Goths. Sure, let those kids with their black clothes and poor musical tastes move into your territory, then encourage them to stay with regular bribes.

    Not that I’m advocating Roman tactics today.

  155. Short of a significant military engagement it is unlikely that the U.S. can stop the Iranian regime from getting nuclear weapons.

  156. If they really want them that is.

  157. Is Obama really so ignorant of history that he thinks that Truman and Roosevelt talked to our enemies? Roosevelt never talked to Hitler.

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/interwar/fdr14.htm

    Ouch. The answer to that long, bloviating tirade was short, sweet and . . . well, kind of kick ass, wasn’t it?

  158. Pro Libertate,

    Well, it was the Eastern Emporer (Valens) who first allowed them to enter and then decided to attack the Goths. Chalk it up to a moronic immigration policy.

  159. Lastly, we can just do nothing and live with a nuclear Iran.

    That is the most likely scenario.

    I look forward to spending the 2020s reading regular threats by Iran to nuke everyone they don’t like.

  160. “John,

    Why exactly would the PRC support your proposal?”

    I don’t think that they would. I don’t think there are any good options with Iran. I am very pessimistic about Iran. The Russians and the Chinese don’t care if Iran gets nukes and they love the idea of Iran causing us and Europe trouble. We are either going to have to act on our own to end it or live with a nuclear Iran. Both are terrible options.

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/interwar/fdr14.htm

    I don’t think a communique is quite what Obama is talking about when he says he will “talk with our enemies”. Further if that is the standard, Bush and every other President has been talking to our enemies for the whole history of the country.

  161. Most of the delivery capacity was via planes and shells actually. The shells would had done a world of hurt to parts of Florida.

    I have never seen a thing about the Soviets having artillery shells that could reach Florida.

    And what I was referring to on the coast would have done a number on our Navy.

  162. “Worst example, ever. The Western Empire arguably fell because of its failure to deal with the Goths. Sure, let those kids with their black clothes and poor musical tastes move into your territory, then encourage them to stay with regular bribes.”

    That and using them for your army and letting the army pick your emperor usually after a prolonged civil war.

  163. John,

    They were also under orders to fire if they were attacked.

    That is what “nuclear release” means.

  164. John:
    The hard truth is that the Iranians are going to build the bomb unless we give them a reason not to.

    I don’t believe that’s true. The IAEA has been inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities all along, and they haven’t uncovered a shred of evidence indicating that Iran is pursuing nuclear weaponry. Further, U.S. intelligence agrees that Iran doesn’t have an active nuclear weapons program.

  165. John,

    Appeasement is what we have been doing with North Korea since 1994. We are paying them in hopes they don’t break our legs.

    Well, they can’t break our legs. We’re paying them off so we don’t get our nice suit rumpled kicking the crazy homeless guy’s ass.

    If what you say about Obama is true, then he is no different than what we have now. Bush has been talking to the Iranians and trying to get them to stop from going nuclear for eight years. Yes, this is what makes the silly-assed talk from Bush and McCain so vapid. There is nothing even approaching a policy or point there; they don’t actually disagree with what Obama is saying, any more than they actually disagreed when he said he would hit al Qaeda across the Pakistani border if there was actionable intelligence. They’re just calling him names over nothing, because they think it’s good politics. Today, perhaps for the first time in our lifetimes, they are learning that it is not.

    You can’t just say “I will rely on diplomacy”. That is meaningless bullshit. “Diplomacy” could mean anything. True. Good think nobody is saying that. Unfortunately, the president and the Republican nominee actually ARE saying the equally-vapid opposite: I won’t use diplomacy. Fortunately, they don’t mean it. McCain never meant it, and Bush has learned his lesson, even if his cheering section hasn’t.

    We can give them a reason to stop by getting the Russians, Europe and the Chinese to sign up to real sanctions that would hurt their economy. But, thus far no one has managed to convince the world to do that. If Obama has a plan to do that, I would like to hear it.

    I don’t think it’s a quesiton of having “a plan.” We know what the strategy is here – use our clout to threaten, cajole, and convince them to get on board. What needs to be different is that our position needs to be stronger – and the Iraq War has certainly made that position weaker – we need to have more freedom of movement to threaten and cojole them – and the Iraq War has certainly limited our freedom to operate and threaten them, and they know it – and the people conducing the diplomacy need to be better at it. That last bit includes everything from having top ambassadors whose hearts are actually in it – unlike John Bolton, for example – to having a president who is, himself, a better diplomat.

    I agree, in cases when we are plainly stronger and not in any serious danger, we might consider acting like the Romans i/r/t the tribes out near the frontier.

  166. Plus there was all that business with the Soviet submarines which could have gotten out of control.

    You mean those subs that continued to be so loud all the way through the 1990s that our Navy never knew if they were doing it on purpose or if they were really that sloppy?

    Not much of a threat.

  167. “I don’t think it’s a quesiton of having “a plan.” We know what the strategy is here – use our clout to threaten, cajole, and convince them to get on board. What needs to be different is that our position needs to be stronger – and the Iraq War has certainly made that position weaker – we need to have more freedom of movement to threaten and cojole them – and the Iraq War has certainly limited our freedom to operate and threaten them, and they know it – and the people conducing the diplomacy need to be better at it.”

    How do we make our position stronger? Pull out of Iraq and show the world that any two bit insurgency can beat us if they just hang in there long enough?

    The only way I can see to make our position stronger is to make an actual credible threat of the use of force. What other leverage do we have over them? It is difficult to imagine Obama giving such a threat after promising to negotiate our way out of the situation.

    Further, it is more complicated than that. How hard are we willing to lean on China and Russia over this? If so how? What are we going to offer them and how is it going to complicate other areas? Obama is not going to do jack shit about Iran. McCain might because they might actually think he would bomb them, but even then I am not optimistic. But Obama? No way. They will just laugh at him and build nukes anyway. The only hope Obama has is that the Europeans realize how weak he is and stop playing us off the Iranians and stand up and do something. But, God that doesn’t sound like much of a hope.

  168. It’s a bad idea to encourage a belligerant pan handler.

    It’s also a bad idea to brawl with him in the middle of the street, in your good suit, when you’ve got an important meeting to get to.

    So, what do you do?

  169. Guy Montag,

    It wasn’t that they were hiding that was the problem. The U.S. Navy knew where they were and were trying to get them to surface (correct me if I am wrong). So the issue becomes, what happens if a shooting war erupts due this particular cat and mouse game?

  170. Hey, what could be better for Israel than more empty threats and destabilizing regional wars?

    Democrats openly siding with the Palestinians and still getting upwards of 90% of the Jewish vote?

  171. Guy Montag,

    Both the U.S. and the USSR had various nuclear artillery options going back into the 50s. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been in Florida if one of them were airburst in my direction.

  172. Abdul | May 16, 2008, 10:57am | #

    I don’t see the hypocrisy here.

    McCain said “They’re [Hamas] the government; sooner or later
    McCains’ statement doesn’t rule out preconditions before negotiation. McCain criticized Obama for saying no preconditions were necessary, and not just with Hamas, but North Korea, Iran, Etc.

    Not so. McCain is blasting Obama claiming he wants to talk to Hamas, which he doesn’t, and it has nothing to do with preconditions.

    Meanwhile, only two years ago, McCain himself said, “we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another. . .” And he says a lot more if you listen to what he said.

    That, my friends, is the definition of hypocrisy.

  173. John, nobody can beat us in Iraq. Please, stop helpin al Qaeda’s propaganda efforts.

    When we leave Iraq, it will be our decision, done for the purpose of advancing our foreign policy, on our terms, and our troops will leave unbeaten.

    And yes, this will vastly improve our military and diplomatic positions.

    The only way I can see to make our position stronger is to make an actual credible threat of the use of force. We have no credible threat of the use of force as long as our ground forces are 100% committed, and Iranian proxies sit astride their supply lines in Iraq.

    It is difficult to imagine Obama giving such a threat after promising to negotiate our way out of the situation. I’m sure it is, for you. Between your shallow, ill-informed understanding of what diplomacy entails (hint: “…or I’ll take you off my Christmas card list” doesn’t usually make an appearance) and the pretty stories you tell yourself about Democrats, I believe you; you can’t imagine this.

  174. Democrats openly siding with the Palestinians

    You know, back in critical thinking class in college they taught us that if you make a claim you should be able to support it with some evidence.

    You’ve just made an outrageous claim there, Neil. Have anything at all to back it up? Or are you from the Kevin James school of argumentation?

  175. Ahmadinejad’s current term will end in August 2009. This whole discussion is moot.

  176. Ahmadinejad’s current term will end in August 2009. This whole discussion is moot.

    And then the Iranian Gorbechev will be ‘elected’, the veils will fall, the ladies will be driving in miniskirts and heels again, they will be buying ads on Israeli TV promoting tourism. Will they change their name to the Rainbow Puppy Republic?

  177. You’ve just made an outrageous claim there, Neil. Have anything at all to back it up?

    Hi, Pug. Good to meet you; you must be new.

    And then the Iranian Gorbechev will be ‘elected’, the veils will fall, the ladies will be driving in miniskirts and heels again, they will be buying ads on Israeli TV promoting tourism. Will they change their name to the Rainbow Puppy Republic?

    But only if we kill 200,000 of them first.

  178. You’ve just made an outrageous claim there, Neil. Have anything at all to back it up?

    Is it so hard for you to google that you can’t confirm that the support for anti-Israeli policies is almost entirely among Democratic politicians, and yet Democrats get 80% to 90% of the jewish vote anyway?

    Here, I’ll do one for you from politico.com:

    Left could push pro-Israel voters to GOP

  179. The Neil without the link was not me, but a spoof.

  180. The post at 3:45pm is an infinite loop.

  181. That’s right. All of my killer androids just starting issuing smoke and collapsing after reading it.

  182. All of my killer androids just starting issuing smoke and collapsing after reading it.

    What about the pleasuredroids?

  183. Pleasuredroids should be banned. Its for the children.

  184. No, he didn’t. He took military action (which failed) to rescue them, and gave the Iranians exactly nothing.

    This is not quite right:
    Additionally, Executive Orders 12277 through 12285 were issued by Carter[60] releasing all assets belonging to the Iranian government and all assets belonging to the Shah found within the United States and the guarantee that the hostages would have no legal claim against the Iranian government that would be heard in U.S. courts.

    That said, that whole thing was a Kobayashi Maru to which there were no good answers, even in hindsight.

  185. Guy Montag would’ve freed them!

  186. The solution to the hostage crisis was so simple that Carter must’ve been an imbecile not to have seen it. We should’ve told the Iranians that if they didn’t cough up our hostages and stop behaving badly, then we’d let the U.S.S.R. know that we no longer had any objections to them annexing Iran.

    We’d have had the hostages back in two days, along with a nice card apologizing for the misunderstanding. Of course, once Iran appeased us in this way, we’d have told them we also wanted them to convert back to Zoroastrianism and to give us free oil for the next thousand years.

  187. Couple of winners here:

    If that is what Mathews is saying he is to some extent right in that it is not always 1938.

    That’s John. I can read that one over and over. Beautiful, like poetry and proverb, science fiction and satire, fortune cookie and horoscope, all in one.

    Guy hit one out of the park here:

    The post at 3:45pm is an infinite loop.

    I’d say “Good work, fellas,” but, seriously, y’all wasted a lot of time here, probably some blood pressure got raised, all for nothing.

    I think I’ll head to an art gallery to drink.
    Cheers!

  188. highnumber, wait! Who is Neil?

  189. I’unno who is Neil, but I’d had only a glass and a half of wine at the art gallery when my glass got tossed, so I’m a little peeved.

    According to Dan T, he is not Neil. I asked him directly whether he was Neil or MK2. He said that due to a new job he has not been wasting as much time online and was not aware of these new characters. Would he lie to me? I’unno. I’d bet a lot of money that it’s not Herr Moose, and I’m not a betting man. He’s otherwise preoccupied lately and it’s not his style anyway. My gut also says that it is not thoreau. There’s a few minor characters that I think make good suspects. One in particular, in fact, but maybe Neil is legit. I’ve always thought he was fake, but I thought TallDave was fake for a while too. (Guy Montag, on the other hand, is simply someone’s own wet dream of himself lived large. I’ve had confirmation of his existence. He is, in fleshy life, exactly as you imagine him to be.)

  190. highnumber, wait! Who is Neil?

    Neil is the anti-joe, the multiplier of thread posts, the destroyer of worlds.

    Was that so hard?

  191. What amazes me is how in an age when the radio industry is in a state of collapse, when scores of talented, capable hosts (many of whom I know personally) are out of work due to consolidation and mismanagement…a boob like Kevin James is gainfully employed on a station our second largest market…

    What me worry…

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