So I am ready to claim victory over the Republicans today in the ongoing discussion about US foreign policy. In case you missed, it the double-act of George W. Bush and John McCain have this week decided that Barack Obama's foreign policy approach of active engagement with
our enemies through robust diplomacy is somehow equivalent to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. Uh huh.
How do we even begin to unpick the levels of nonsense in this thinking? (In this analogy, does W somehow fancy himself standing the place of Churchill? Because apart from the thousand other ways in which they differ, there's also the small point that Winston actually
won his war.... But never mind.)
Jamey Rubin, Clinton-Supporter and former Assistant Secretary of State puts it well when he writes:
"The Obama campaign was right to criticize the president for his remarks and for engaging in partisan politics while overseas. Many presidents have said things abroad that could be construed as violating this unwritten rule of American politics. But it is hard to remember any president abusing the prestige of his office in as crude a way as Bush did yesterday. Charging your opponents with appeasement and likening them to Neville Chamberlain in the Knesset is a brutal blow. It is bad enough that Republicans use the politics of personal destruction here at home, but to deploy that kind of political weapon at an occasion as solemn as an American president addressing the parliament of a friendly government marks a new low."
But it is also worth unpicking the thinking behind Bush's statements (and McCain's bobble-headed agreement). The charge laid at Obama's feet is of "appeasement" - the analogy being to Neville Chamberlain's permitting Hitler to Annex ethnically German sections of
Czechoslovakia (without consulting the Chzechoslovakian government, by the way).
In order for Bush and McCain's argument to make any sense at all, you would have to believe that:
* A willingness to conduct discussions is exactly the same thing as a willingness to surrender completely. In fact, Obama has always stated that the purpose of any negotiations would be to support our interests - and, by the way, that the security and stability of Israel is among
our most vital interests in the region.
* NOT negotiating or conducting discussions with our enemies is a more effective way of advancing our interests. Since Iran, for example, has been successfully accruing considerable regional power during the period that Bush and the Republicans have been advocating the Magical Power Or Toughness Through Not Talking (Let's think if it as the "Naaah naah naah, I can't hear you, I can't see you" fingers in the ear policy), this doesn't seem to hold water.
If the definition of "appeasement" is devolved to the point where it means "any constructive engagement, negotiations or discussions with regimes not already friendly to the US" then the list of appeasers must be expanded to include:
* Ronald Reagan - engagement with Gorbachev clearly proved a disastrous mistake that empowered the Soviet Regime, leading to its continued success as a superpower.
* Richard Nixon - actually WENT TO CHINA! But then he was a well known lefty America hater.
* And pretty much every other American President ever, apart from the current one, who is famous above all for the success and effectiveness of his foreign policy. Or something.
I could go on, but fortunately I don't have to because, as usual, our candidate put it best in his cutting rebuke.
"Well I want to be perfectly clear with George Bush and John McCain – if they want a debate about protecting the United States of America, that’s a debate I’m ready to win, because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for."
"...in the Bush-McCain worldview, everyone who disagrees with their failed Iran policy is an appeaser. And back during his “No Surrender” tour, John McCain said anyone who wants to end the war in Iraq responsibly wants to surrender; he even said later on that he would be OK keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years, but yesterday he said our troops could be home by 2013. He offered the promise that America will win a victory, with no understanding that Iraq is fighting a civil war. Just like George Bush, his plan isn’t about winning, it’s about
staying, and that’s why there will be a clear choice in November: fighting a war without end, or ending this war. Because we don’t need John McCain’s prediction about when the war will end – we need a plan to end it."
These are the stakes - 4 more years of the same arrogant, ineffective foreign policy at unforgivable costs, including devastating loss of life, or a bold new vision for America that seeks to return us to global leadership through active, smart engagement. Under a McCain
administration the solution to every problem is fear. Under an Obama
administration, like in John Kennedy's, "we will never negotiate out of fear. But we will never fear to negotiate."
Barack has announced a 50 state voter registration program to grow our electorate all around the country - I think that's great, but what about all those voters in the rest of the world? I'm looking for volunteers to work with me and the existing Democrats Abroad voter
registration team to reach out to Americans every where we can find them. Can you help? Write to obamalondon(at)gmail.com.
Meanwhile, why not show John McCain that you've had enough of Bush's disastrous global policies - chip in $50 (just 25 pounds, gotta love that exchange rate) today:
Don't forget, Oregon and Kentucky will hold their primaries on Tuesday - and on that day Barack is likely to finally win the pledged delegate majority. Why not help put him over the top?
Make calls using the phone banking tool here: http://my.barackobama.com/callnow