30 September 2008

More-on Kissinger (UPDATED)

In a follow-up to my debate follow-up regarding the Obama/McCain dust-up over what, exactly, Henry Kissinger had and had not said about meeting with dictators, please see Christopher Hitchens:
But the true farce and disgrace is that this increasingly glassy-eyed old blunderer and war criminal, who has been wrong on everything since he first authorized illicit wiretapping for the Nixon gang, should be cited as an authority by either nominee, let alone by both of them. Meanwhile, I repeat my question from two weeks ago: Does Sen. Obama appreciate, or do his peacenik fans and fundraisers realize, just how much war he is promising them if he is elected? Once again on Sept. 26 in Mississippi—at the end of a week when American and Pakistani forces had engaged in their first actual direct firefight—he repeated his intention of ignoring the Pakistani frontier when it came to hot pursuit of al-Qaida. Out-hawked on this point, as he was nearly out-doved on the Kissinger one, McCain was moderate by comparison. Obama went on to accuse Iran of having built more centrifuges than most people think it has. This allegation has a confrontational logic of its own, above and beyond the minor issues of preconditions and the "level" of diplomacy. I think Obama is to be praised for doing this—always assuming that he does in fact know what he is doing. But as we all press bravely on, the debate would look more intelligent, and be conducted on a higher plane, if it excluded a discredited pseudo-expert who has trampled on human rights, vandalized the U.S. Constitution, deceived Congress, left a trail of disaster and dictatorship behind him, and deserves to be called not a hawk or a dove but a vulture.
Re: Obama's twice-stated position that he would sit down, w/o preconditions, with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, etc.: I remain opposed, regardless of Henry Kissinger.

For two reasons: 1) Meetings should not be conducted with these thugs, at any level, w/o preconditions AND 2) Meetings should not be conducted between these thugs and the President of the United States, except, perhaps, in extreme circumstances.

So extreme and outrageous are the circumstances, that I cannot, at this time, conceive of the events that would have to occur in order for the President to meet with, say, Ahmadinejad. Maybe if he led a democratic revolution in his country and singlehandedly smashed to bits, with a crowbar, his country's nuclear weapon capacity. Then, maybe, I could see the POTUS agreeing to a sit-down.

(h/t Justin W.)

UPDATE 9:38pm MDT: That wasn't the selection Justin W. wanted from the Hitchens article. Presumably, this is the one he was looking for when he sent the link and suggested I share it with my readers:
Henry Kissinger did indeed favor such talks with such regimes "without preconditions." This cannot have been hard to do, since only last week at a forum at George Washington University, consisting of himself and four other former secretaries of state, Kissinger had told his audience: "Well, I am in favor of negotiations with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it." He then added something that can hardly have startled anyone who ever watched him usurping presidential prerogatives during the Nixon and Ford administrations: "I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level" before, as the New York Times put it with uncharacteristic brusqueness, "he trailed off." Nonetheless, asked if such talks should be "at a very high level right out of the box," his response was to say, "Initially, yes," which is as much as to say "yes." He then said: "I do not believe we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations," which would appear to justify the use of the term unconditional in conjunction with "very high level."


Thus for McCain, a full day and night after the exposure of his shaky running mate to such ridicule, to make the same mistake himself in Oxford, Miss., was really something to see. It was even worse if you heard it on radio, as I initially did, than if you saw it on television. (You can hear that geezerish whistle in his pipes much more ominously than when you are looking at his elderly face.) Anyway, on the same question of "without preconditions," he walked into Obama's tersely phrased riposte, which was to quote Kissinger in precisely the same way as Couric had already done. McCain looked and perhaps felt a fool at this point, and may have been only slightly cheered up when Kissinger told the Weekly Standard after the debate that he after all doesn't, at least not for this precise moment, "recommend presidential high-level talks with Iran." Which, when compared with his earlier remarks, makes it seem that he has no idea what he currently thinks and should either be apologized to by, or should apologize to, either Sarah Palin or Katie Couric, or conceivably both.
There you have it. Barack Obama said he would meet with dictators w/o preconditions. Henry Kissinger advocated meeting with dictators w/o preconditions at the SecState level. Seemingly, the only difference is the level at which the talks should be held--though this is a significant difference.

In my opinion, both are dumb positions. Let their low-level hacks meet with our low-level hacks. If Ahmadinejad, for example, wants to cease and desist their nuclear aspirations and quit calling Israel a "stinking corpse" and threatening to wipe her off the map, maybe then they can have a higher level meeting. Otherwise, we have nothing to gain from high level meetings with thugs.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.