Archive for March, 2008

Why is this controversial?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

The Wall Street Journal reports — as news, not opinion — that Obama’s pledge to talk to unfriendly foreign powers is somehow controversial.

Are there any historical examples in which talking with a sovereign head of state weakened American power? or in which refusing to talk successfully weakened an enemy?

There are certainly many cases in which poor communication with an unfriendly power resulted in avoidable wars or close calls. And there are even more cases in which refusing to talk accomplished nothing at all.

Saddam Hussein’s 1991 Kuwait gambit could probably have been avoided if the US had clearly communicated its willingness to use force.

We haven’t spoken to Cuba for 49 years. Absolutely no effect.

The entire Pacific theater of World War II was probably avoidable by better communication with Imperial Japan in the months before Pearl Harbor.

Ignoring North Korea accomplished nothing. Engaging North Korea accomplished something greater than or equal to zero, but certainly no worse than before.

Has our foreign policy has become so sclerotic that simply talking to other sovereign heads of state is controversial? What is this position based on? There is no supporting evidence, and much contravening evidence.

Only the weak fear appearing weak. Does America’s leadership have so little self-confidence that it cannot risk even speaking to an enemy?