Sunday, May 18, 2008

Should America Talk to Her Enemies?

When deciding whether to do something, it's useful to see how similar acts have fared in the past. Consider:

  • Ronald Reagan talked to Gorbachev, the head of the 'evil empire,' also known as the Soviet Union. A few years later the Soviet Union collapsed and America won the Cold War.
  • The Bush administration talked to Muammar al-Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, a state sponsor of terrorism. Libya subsequently gave up their nuclear weapons program, turning over documents and hardware.
  • General Petraeus, American commander in Iraq, talked to the Sunni insurgents who were killing American soldiers. Many of these insurgents subsequently joined the Sunni Awakening, allied with America, and drove al Qaeda in Iraq to the brink of extinction.

With all of this success, why are the Republicans so upset that Barack Obama says he'll talk with America's enemies? To score political points, of course. They are trying to attach the label 'appeaser' to Obama. Appeasement was a spectacularly unsuccessful policy followed by Britain and France before World War II where they gave territory to Hitler's Germany in exchange for false promises of peace.

The Republicans mistakenly think appeasement refers to talking, which is false. The most hysterical example is an MSNBC Hardball discussion where conservative radio talk-show host Kevin James calls Obama an appeaser (see video). When questioned, it turned out James was completely ignorant of the history of appeasement and, in fact, didn't even know what the word meant. Specifically, he didn't know that Britain and France gave Hitler half of Czechoslovakia at a conference in Munich in 1938 -- the most famous actual case of appeasement.

If you want ignorant name-callers to run the country, Kevin James and his ilk are for you. If we allow them to define our political discourse, we will lose the war with al Qaeda, because you can't win tough wars with bullshit. If you want an extremely intelligent president who has real knowledge of the peoples we must bring to our side to win (1), vote for Barack Obama.

(1) "You cannot kill your way out of an insurgency, you must turn them," David Petraeus, the most successful American commander in Iraq.

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