Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Talking with our enemies

Now that Obama has secured the nomination, between now and November I am sure we will hear more and more about the whole subject of talking with our enemies: Obama's stance that he would hold talks with Iran and other nations we're not on the best of terms with, and the Bush/McCain stance of not talking to those nations until they meet various preconditions.

Let's leave aside for a moment that the very preconditions Bush has outlined for talks with Iran amount to Iran having already implemented the changes that we would be pushing for if we were to hold talks.

Yeah, that makes my head spin just a bit, too. I guess that would make for a pretty short agenda for the talks, though, which is nice if you have as much difficulty talking coherently as Bush and McCain seem to:
  1. Fly to Tehran
  2. Thank Amedinijad for bowing to our will
  3. Fly home
I'm all for the notion of talking with our enemies. Obama himself has given several good reasons why he would do this and why it makes sense. But there's one reason I haven't heard him or anyone else say. A reason that seems so important to me as to constitute an Elephant in the Room (no pun intended). I don't understand why no one else has brought this up, so I'm going to:

If we aren't willing to talk with our enemies, war becomes the only alternative.

Our view of war is so negative that it really should be avoided at all costs. Bush and McCain seem to feel much differently about war, though, which perhaps explains why they're willing to eliminate all other options right out of the gate.

But this is the real world, in which there isn't absolute good or absolute evil. This is the real world, where war causes nothing but suffering for all those involved and doesn't actually make anyone safer.

This is the real world, where there is nearly always some common ground that two parties - even those with the highest levels of antipathy towards one another - can agree on, if they have a strong enough motivation. And the way I see it, the appalling thought of throwing our nation's children into the meat grinder is a pretty damn strong motivation to find that middle ground.

Which requires talking.

Why has no one pointed this out? Why isn't Obama talking about this?

I don't get it. So if by some bizarre turn of events Barack Obama ends up reading this post - or if someone from the Obama campaign is reading it who can put a word in his ear - here's the statement I'd like to hear you make the next time McCain criticizes your stance on this issue:

Once again Senator McCain has chosen to label me as weak on security for saying that I would talk to President Amedinijad without any pre-conditions. Nothing could be less accurate. The way I see it, there are really only two options for dealing with Iran. Talking, or fighting.

Negotiation, or war. America has lived through the heartbreaking folly of war for the past five years. We have seen the lives of over four thousand of America's children sacrificed in the process, and countless thousands injured, suffering wounds that will affect them for the rest of their lives. And for what. The war in Iraq has not made us one bit safer as a nation. We all know that.

War is always an option. But it should be the last option. The very last one, to be turned to only when the stakes are critically high, and when all other options have failed.

So yes, I will talk with Amedinijad. I will talk with Kim Jong-il. I will talk with Hu Jintao, or any other world leader I need to. Of course I will. Because I will never use war as a first resort. I will never, as Senator McCain's policies would do, leave war as the only resort for dealing with America's adversaries.

I will never throw America's volunteer soldiers into harm's way until absolutely every other option has failed. I'll never do it, and no President worthy of the office ever should, either."


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