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What’s stopping Obama from going to Iran now?

By See-Dubya  •  May 30, 2008 06:37 PM

Barack Obama doesn’t want to go to Iraq and re-evaluate the situation there. John McCain has invited him along on an Iraq junket, where he could meet with Prime Minister Maliki and some troops as well. Obama still says no.

As Baldilocks points out, that’s sort of an odd double standard. Obama won’t go meet with our ally, Iraq, yet he has offered to meet, without preconditions, with the leadership of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela.

Marc Ambinder has followed the twists and turns and nuances of Obama’s attempts to wriggle out of the implications of that statement, which don’t look good for Obama. But let’s at least look at what Obama’s website says about Iran today. Bolding is mine:

Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.

I disagree, as I suspect most readers here do, but let’s skip that argument for now. Here he is again, a little bit below that last quote, on the subject of more general diplomacy:

Talk to our Foes and Friends: Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe. He will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America is ready to come to the table, and that he is willing to lead. And if America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges like terrorism, and Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs.

So forget McCain and his Iraq trip. Instead, go meet with Iran, Senator. If “now is the time to pressure Iran directly”, and if you think they would be amenable to your blandishments, set it up. You can lay the groundwork for some of that important diplomacy you’ll need to do once you’re elected. Get all that awkward “wipe-Israel-off-the-map” business out of the way so you can get down to uranium tacks.

Frankly, your foreign policy campaign has mostly just been “I’m not George Bush”. Well, here’s your chance to prove it.

Do the photo-op. Do the handshake. Do the tours. Do the full Sean Penn. What have you got to lose?

As Ambinder notes, your people are fudging on this whole meeting-with-Iranian-leaders-in-your-first-year thing because of those necessary and time-consuming preparations for a Presidential visit. It would take lots of preliminary diplomacy, lots of groundwork, lots of…umm…it’s very complicated…

But now, you’re still just a Senator, and you’ve pretty well sewn up the nomination. You can do it if you want, with far less preparation. Hey, remember when Nancy Pelosi jetted over to Damascus and hung out with Assad for three hours? Remember how mad that made the White House?


If she can do it, so can you. Nothing is stopping you from taking some time and doing that now.

After all, as Speaker Pelosi noted, it was really all that Iranian goodwill that stabilized Iraq. Don’t you agree with her? If so, you’re going to want to make sure that all-important goodwill doesn’t dry up.

And you know, Senator–I think there’s a certain amount of doubt that you really mean some of this stuff. I mean, Samantha Power told the BBC that

Once in office…[Obama] would not rely on a plan “he’s crafted as a presidential candidate.”

Sure, you fired her, but then there’s your other Iraq adviser that called for 60,000-80,000 troops to remain in Iraq until 2010. You could see why people might start to wonder if you’re not just planning on implementing business as usual when you get into office.

So be a leader. Take the plunge. If you really believe your rhetoric, then go meet with Ahmadinejad in Iran next month. Tell him how important it is that he stop funding terrorism, and that he abandon his nuclear program.

Think about how great all those photos will look at the convention, and on the cover of the New York Times–you shaking hands with Ahmadinejad. Think about how, as you said on your website, “the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership “. What courage! What leadership! McCain would never do that.

You can swing by Pyongyang on the return trip, and totally straighten that out, too.


{Post by See-Dubya.}

Posted in: Barack Obama,Iran

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