Appeasement and Talking with One’s Enemies

There’s a big hubub over Obama’s comments about talking with Iran.  The big news, to me, is that he would consider talking with Iran.  (Don’t we talk with North Korea?  But maybe that’s completely different.)

To the neoconservative-dominated establishment GOP, this is near blasphemous.  President Bush condemned such ideas in a recent address in Israel.  He used the dreaded word “appeasement” to characterize his feelings on the matter.  His reasoning: Iran is linked to groups and organizations labeled as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government (or parts of the U.S. government).  Thus, to talk with Iran is to talk with terrorists.  We don’t talk with them.  We don’t negotiate with them.  And so the story goes.

But what is wrong with talking to individuals, or even to a hostile government?  What is so abominable about talking with one’s enemy?  Didn’t we talk with Stalin and Kruschev and Mao?  If, as Jesus teaches, we are to love our enemies, won’t talking with them make it that much easier?  If we love them, won’t we be inclined to at least listen to them (and I don’t mean sounds bites of political talks as one hears on “Glenn Beck”)?  To at least talk with them?

More to the point, why is bombing or other direct, aggressive military action more desirable than talking?  (By aggressive military action, I am referring to incidents that have already occurred, like the American provocation of Iran naval vessels right off the coast of Iran: why are we provoking them?)

Talking does not mean anything more than talking, listening, and establishing closer diplomatic ties.  Usually this is associated with more peace, more trade, more mutual travel, etc.  Why is this less-than-desirable?  Wouldn’t an Iranian population that learns the value of Western civilization the old-fashioned, peaceful way (through trade and peaceful example) be more sympathetic to our interests?  We don’t have to sell them our nuclear secrets, or give them proprietary military technology.  Nor need we do anything except talk and listen.  Why is this so unthinkable?  Why will we not even consider it?

And why is talking about pre-emptive nuclear strikes OK but even mentioning diplomatic ties atrocious?  Something doesn’t quite make sense here.


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Filed under foreign policy, Libertarian, politics, role of government

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