Asked to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the inception of the nation of Israel, President Bush gave a rousing speech, with some parts that hurt some feelings here back in the States. Using the context of the run-up to World War II as an illustrative tool, Bush said that 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 We have an obligation to call this what it is the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
Offended, the Barack Obama campaign lashed out at this perceived slight. Obama denounced Bushs speech, saying that Bush was falsely insinuating that Obama would appease our enemies if elected. The official White House line is that Bush was not referring to Obama; White House Press Secretary Dana Perino quipped, I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you that is not always true, and it is not true in this case." The White House maintains that it was referring to others, including former President Jimmy Carter.
Beyond the Obama campaigns childish sputtering lies an important point. Obama has said that if elected, he would meet with unfriendly nations such as Iran, North Korea or Venezuela without preconditions. In other words, an Obama presidency would be more concerned about not hurting our enemies feelings and less about if said countries were following through on diplomatic agreements. Iran wont stop its nuclear weapons program or quit talking about wiping American allies from the map? Thats fine; well still talk to them and make them feel special. Venezuela is threatening its neighbors with war? Thats OK; lets invite Hugo Chavez over for some tea. North Korea is lobbing missile tests over the heads of American allies and is continuing its nuclear weapons program? Not a problem; lets send them food aid in exchange for a promise that theyll stop. See the pattern here?
Meeting with rogue nations without first verifying that they are holding their ends of the bargain is not diplomacy. Thats called holding hands and singing kumbaya. As a campfire activity, this is a good thing. As a diplomatic paradigm, its a very bad thing. Of course, no one ever accused Obama of being a foreign policy genius, so this is par for the course. In Obamas nave worldview, the reason that some countries are opposed to us is that we havent won them over with ingenious arguments and offers of friendship.
Diplomacy is the use of sticks, just as much as it is about the use of carrots. Obama-style diplomacy is useless, because it is diplomacy robbed of the ability to back up words with action. Former President Ronald Reagan once said, Trust, but verify. As President Bush pointed out in his speech to the Israeli parliament, liberals thought that they could have talked Hitler out of starting war with the world. He called this the false comfort of appeasement." The most famous example of the disasters of appeasement lies with Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister who believed that Britain could have peace for our time with Nazi Germany. We all know what happened next.
Its said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If thats true, Obama needs a remedial lesson in twentieth-century world history, stat. Our enemies are our enemies for a good reason: They hate us. Idle talk with hostile parties is not a replacement for grown-up diplomatic measures, unless one is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.