Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reality Intrudes

Something that has gotten nearly zero play in the traditional media is the recent "flip-flop" towards "appeasement" that the Bush Administration has made regarding Iran. I kept waiting for this to become a story and it never did.

Barack Obama stated that he would be willing to talk to Iran and was then attacked by McCain, Bush and the right-wing media as being a naive appeaser. Then lo and behold, the Bush Administration sends new Iran envoy William Burns to talk to the Iranians.

Burns, who as career ambassador holds the highest rank in the U.S. foreign service, will represent Washington in nuclear talks with Iran on Saturday, a sharp departure from U.S. policy that could be a launch point to reduced tensions.
Burns' mandate is to listen and not negotiate in Saturday's talks, but if Iran suspends its sensitive nuclear work, then the United States has promised to join full-blown negotiations.

Another piece on the decision to send Burns:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saw it as a "smart step" to depart from usual policy and send senior diplomat William Burns to Geneva on Saturday for talks with Iran along with other major powers, said Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack.

"It sends a strong signal to the world and it sends a strong signal to the Iranian government that the United States is committed to diplomacy," McCormack told reporters.

Hmm, where have I heard that before?

Sen. Barack Obama today continued to his running debate with Sen. John McCain and President Bush over foreign policy in the Middle East and whether it makes sense to have unconditional talks with Iran.


"Anything but their failed cowboy diplomacy that has produced no results is called appeasement," Obama countered. "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 confidence to talk to our enemies? That's what strong countries do. That's what strong presidents do."

William Burns' talks with Iran are unconditional, literally without conditions. Here we have the entire right-wing establishment savaging Obama for a common-sense position, then adopting that same position, validating Obama's view while invalidating McCain's -- and the traditional media has been almost entirely silent on it. When Bhutto was assassinated we were subjected to endless speculation about who would be helped politically, but while Bhutto's assassination was a major event it was unrelated to the campaigns. Obama and McCain fighting over our approach to Iran has been in the news for months, yet this directly relevant action by the Bush Administration has gotten little play. Where are all the talking heads asking which campaign this helps or pointing out the obvious fact that Bush is now pursuing Obama's strategy?

It's as if the media was only interested when it was pure speculation and back-and-forth. Now that real-world action threatens to resolve the debate in favor of one candidate it's no longer an appealing story, the cameras are turned off just as the knockout punch is thrown.

I called this post "Reality Intrudes" because despite the Bush Administration's rhetoric about creating their own reality they have been forced to bend to actual reality. With North Korea we left ourselves only one option: bomb. And since we chose not to bomb North Korea acquired nuclear weapons while our "tough" talk got us nowhere. In Iran we were going down a similar road that would likely have lead to a similar outcomes To their credit the Bush Administration eventually realized that we need options between military action and absolutely nothing.

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