Obama the Appeaser
Barack Obama has received a great deal of criticism for his promise to meet without preconditions with enemies such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, and Kim Jong Il. Although the details of these proposed meetings are hazy (as are many things in the Obama campaign), Obama definitely plans on talking to hostile world leaders. Liberals praise Obama for his open diplomatic message; conservatives claim that he supports appeasement.
Obama asserts that he is following in the footsteps of John F. Kennedy and engaging in diplomacy with those who oppose us. He believes that talking only to our allies is counterproductive, and it imperative to use diplomacy to influence our adversaries. He points out that relying solely on brute force does not work.
Obviously, a nation can’t rely solely on threats (“nuke ‘em if they can’t take a joke”), but a nation cannot rely solely on diplomacy either. There must be at least two conditions met before a nation engages in diplomacy: the country negotiating must be operating from a position of strength, and the country being negotiated with must have a rational leader. Neither condition applies to Iran.
A position of strength does not always mean a clear military victory—it only requires that the country negotiating be able to inflict enough damage on its negotiating partner that any conflict would be undesirable. It would seem that the United States would always be in this position—our military is the best on earth, and most military observers believe that it could crush any other nation. Even in a worst case scenario, our nuclear capability gives us the ability to release a nuclear apocalypse. It would seem that America would always be guaranteed the upper hand at the negotiating table.
But this would not be true in the case of Obama-Ahmadinejad talks. By agreeing to talk to Ahmadinejad without absolutely no preconditions, Obama is signalling that he is desperate. Given his pacifistic rhetoric about the Middle East, it is clear that there is almost no scenario in which he would open another front in the war on Islamic terror. Ahmadinejad would have a free hand. Obama would not be operating from a position of strength, but rather one of desperate weakness.
The second condition is even more basic. If the leader being negotiated with is not rational, then such concepts as diplomacy and apeasement (which, in some condition, can actually be a good idea) are pointless. An irrational man doesn’t have the same goals that a rational leader does, nor does he have a realistic view of the world. A perfectly reasonable deal may be rejected, or more often reneged upon, due to a fantasy of a deranged madman. Negotiating with deluded fanatics is invariably futile.
And Ahmadinejad is clearly irrational. Apart from his domestic inanities, such as his declaration that there are no homosexuals in Iran (in reality there are, but he is doing his best to change that by killing as many as possible), Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy statements show that his is not a rational mind.
He has declared that the nation of Israel must be “wiped off the map”, that annihilation for Israel is near, and has referred to the Israeli government as “criminals”. In 2006, Ahmadinejad called a Holocaust denial conference. When Israel attacked Lebanon as part of a perfectly reasonable counter offensive against Hamas, Ahmadinejad compared Israel’s defensive action to the sins of Nazi Germany.
This is the man with whom Obama wants to try diplomacy. It is nearly impossible to see how such negotiations could succeed. Since Obama clearly has no plans to attack Iran, there is almost nothing that the United States could offer to Iran (is any country intimidated by U.N. sanctions?). And since Ahmadinejad is wholly irrational, any progress could be erased instantly by a dictatorial mood swing. Negotiating with Iran would be both pointless and harmful—it would give legitimacy to a regime that openly supports terrorism, and reinforce the radical Muslim notion that the United States is a paper tiger.