Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16, 2008

     The campaign is getting silly.  They mostly do, of course, sooner or later.  President Bush started it this time when he said, "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals,"  calling this "the false comfort of appeasement...discredited by history."  John McCain jumped right in, mentioning Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister who tried to negotiate with Hitler and adding, "Barack Obama needs to explain why he wants to sit down and talk to the head of a government that is a state sponsor of terrorism...." and so on and so forth.
     Well, Mahmound Ahmedinejad of Iran, or whichever Taliban leader Obama might talk with, isn't Hitler.  Hitler was the head of a powerful nation with very strong military forces and he conquered whole countries.  He also killed millions of people--six million is a figure often used.  The Taliban are guerillas, probably as anti-Semitic as Hitler was but with only a fraction of his power to conquer and destroy.
     The reasons for talking to the bad guys--whichever ones you're facing--are probably two.  First, to get an idea of what kind of person he is--does this guy really seem batty enough that he'd launch an atomic bomb at Israel if he had one--and second, to figure out what he wants--is negotiation possible or is war his only solution to everything?  And maybe a third reason--to deliver, if needs be, a threat:  mess with us and we'll nuke you, pal; everyone in your country will be dead before lunchtime. 
     And sometimes, of course, negotiations actually make things better.  Richard Nixon as president opened a door to China.  Ronald Reagan negotiated actual arms reduction agreements with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.  Those, almost everyone would surely agree, were wise things to do.
     So what's wrong with talking?  If it doesn't work, we can always start the killing later on.

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