Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Diplomacy does not equal appeasement

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the Munich conference. For decades the label 'Munich' has been widely misapplied to virtually any foreign-policy move thought unwise by the persons doing the labeling. In view of this, I think it's appropriate to quote the following passage from Richard Holbrooke's article ("The Next President: Mastering a Daunting Agenda") in the current issue of Foreign Affairs:
"Both Obama and McCain agree that preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state must be a major priority. Both would tighten sanctions. Neither would remove the threat of the use of force from the table. But from that point on, their emphasis and language differ significantly. Obama has said repeatedly that he is ready to have direct contacts with Iran at whatever level he thinks would be productive, not only on nuclear issues but also on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran's support for terrorist organizations.... Obama's forthright approach has been met with cries of alarm from McCain and his supporters, as though the very thought of talking to one's adversaries were in and of itself a sign of weakness, foreshadowing another Munich. This position is contradicted by decades of U.S. diplomacy with adversaries, through which U.S. leaders, backed by strength and power, reached agreements without weakening U.S. national security. Diplomacy is not appeasement. Winston Churchill knew this, Dwight Eisenhower knew it, and so did John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush."

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