I. George W. Bush equates diplomacy and appeasement in a cheap effort to smear Barack Obama abroad.
Of course, diplomacy is not the same as appeasement at all, no matter how hard the gaseous and despicable George W. Bush may twist it. Literacy matters. Bush must have been the child left behind. Here are some definitions, for clarity’s sake:
The distinction in that last definition is worth highlighting. In order for there to be appeasement, there must first be peace. Appeasement is the act of offering concessions to maintain peace.
Diplomacy, on the other hand, has no such restriction. Diplomacy is the art of intercession and negotiation. It can be a trade agreement or a peace agreement. It is not conditioned upon military victory, economic performance, or anything other than two parties coming together to negotiate a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Joe Lieberman, George W. Bush, and John McCain forgot to check their dictionaries before going off half-cocked today. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Bush is illiterate, but it’s a pity that it has infected Senators McCain and Lieberman with an infection as rapid as the rise of the SARS virus.
II. What they said:
George W. Bush
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
McCain takes it one step further:
“Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain,’’ Mr. McCain told reporters on his campaign bus after a speech in Columbus, Ohio. “I believe that it’s not an accident that our hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president of the United States. He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran, he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home.’
(Note to John McCain: The hostage release was not anything that Reagan did or didn’t do. The hostages were released about an hour after Reagan’s inauguration, and was timed to humilate Carter, mostly because Carter would not engage in any form of discussion with them, choosing instead to launch a failed rescue operation and then ignore them.)
Finally, the pile-on by Joe “hawk-boy” Lieberman:
President Bush got it exactly right today when he warned about the threat of Iran and its terrorist proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah. It is imperative that we reject the flawed and naïve thinking that denies or dismisses the words of extremists and terrorists when they shout “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and that holds that — if only we were to sit down and negotiate with these killers — they would cease to threaten us.
Because somehow, words become terrorism and war and diplomacy is appeasement.
III. John McCain was for diplomacy before he was against it.
Two years ago, when interviewed by James P Rubin, Senator McCain said this:
I asked: “Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?”
McCain answered: “They’re [Hamas] the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it’s a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.”
During a follow-up conference call with bloggers, he added the following embellishment:
In a reference to Obama’s declared willingness to meet with the leader of Iran, McCain said:
“I think [it] is an unacceptable position, and shows that Senator Obama does not have the knowledge, the experience, the background to make the kind of judgments that are necessary to preserve this nation’s security.”
Yet, I could find no references to McCain’s objection to Iran President Ahmadinejad’s visit to the US last year, nor any objection to Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University during that same visit. Not one press release. Not one public speech. Nothing. Was that visit not “talking”? Why isn’t Columbia held to the same standard?
Those are rhetorical questions, of course. The fact is that there was no political capital to be gained by giving attention to it. President Bush and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain are for democracy until they’re against it. In other words, they’re for democracy as long as the elected party is one they agree with. The Palestinians elected their government, which includes Hamas. It’s democratic, like it or not. The Iranians elected Ahmadinejad in a democratic election, like it or not. John McCain and George Bush do not get to pick and choose the democracies they like. Well, maybe they do, but it exposes the sock puppet argument about the conflict in Iraq being about making Iraq into a democracy. They’ll be for Iraq as long as they agree with the leadership, just like they were for Pakistan until the recent elections put people they don’t like into power.
The fundamental conflict here is not about appeasement. It is about how Republicans pervert ideas like diplomacy into appeasement. It’s about how they make democratic processes into wars.
Refresh your palate with a bit of Joe Biden, straight out of a Senate session and outraged at Bush’s illiteracy:
“This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset … and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”
Biden noted that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have both suggested that the United States ought to find a way to talk more with its enemies.
“If he thinks this is appeasement, is he going to come back and fire his own cabinet?” Biden asked. “Is he going to fire Condi Rice?”
As a final thought point, consider John McCain’s surrogate Joe Lieberman’s statement yesterday with regard to his feelings on bombing Iran:
BENNETT: Listen, I give her credit. She has found her…three things. She’s found her voice. He is very much in the background now, it’s not this, you know, ventriloquial thing, it’s definitely her voice.
LIEBERMAN: That’s true.
BENNETT: And Joe, you know, this is my style. This is a girl who puts on her pearls, goes down, throws down a shot of liquor and bombs Iran, you know. This is…lookout Mrs. Bennett, this is my kind of girl.
LIEBERMAN: Hehehe, it does have an appeal to it.
Diplomacy = Progress toward peace. Why doesn’t John McCain want peace?
Food for thought.