Obama: Initial Meetings With Hostile Nations Would Start With Lower Level Aides; Bush Admin "Preconditions" Are Exactly What Need to Be Negotiated In These Meetings.Obama is right that the question was a very specific question; more specific than he apparently can recall. It was, "Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?"
Asked whether his idea of meeting with hostile nations consisted of "from the get-go of the President of the United States" or lower level aides, Obama said, "The latter. Understand what the question was. The question was a very specific question. Would you meet without preconditions? Preconditions as it applies to a country like Iran for example was a term of art. Because this administration has been very clear that it will not have direct negotiations with Iran until Iran has meet preconditions that are essentially negotiations with Iran until Iran has met preconditions that are essentially what Iran used and many other observers would view as the subject of the negotiations. For example, [For example??] their nuclear program. The point is that I would not refuse to meet until they agree to every position that we want. But that doesn't mean that we would not have preparation, and the preparation would involve starting with low level-lower level diplomatic contacts, having our diplomatic corps work through with Iranian counterparts, an agenda. But what I have said is that at some point I would be willing to meet. And that is a position, I mean, what's puzzling is that we view this as in any way controversial, when this has been the history of U.S. diplomacy, until very recently. This whole notion of not talking to people, it didn't hold in the 60s, it didn't hold in the '70s, it didn't hold in the '80s, it didn't hold in the '90s, against much more powerful adversaries; much more dangerous adversaries. I mean, when Kennedy met with Khrushchev, we were on the brink of nuclear war. When Nixon met with Mao, that was with the knowledge that Mao had exterminated millions of people. And yet we understood that we could advance our national security interests by at least opening up lines of communication. And this was bipartisan. And it's a signal of how badly our foreign policy has drifted over the last eight years; how much it has been skewed by the rhetoric of the Bush Administration that this should even be a controversial proposition." [Obama Press Avail, 5/15/08]
I don't quite follow the italicized explanation(?) that purports to support the headline: "Bush Admin "Preconditions" Are Exactly What Need to Be Negotiated In These Meetings," when the question was about preconditions Obama called unnecessary.
We can ignore twaddle about preconditions meaning "until they agree to every position that we want." Nobody ever said pre-conditions meant that, the claim represents an insular arrogance about lying we haven't even seen from the Clintons.
Aside from the fact that the meetings with Khrushchev and Mao were not held without conditions, there are several other problems for Obama in equating those meetings with meeting Bashir al-Hassad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Raoul Castro, and Kim Jong-il, not the least of which is the implication of granting these psychopaths the prestige of a face-to-face meeting with the President of the United States.
So, now there are preconditions, they're just called "preparations. Now he's telling that "in the first year" doesn't mean right away.
That's some ingenious argument, all right.