Clinton, Obama Bicker on YouTube Debate July 24, 2007Posted by chuckwh in Barack Obama, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Neo-cons, News and politics, Obama, YouTube.
The stars of CNN’s YouTube debate were clearly Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but it was Clinton’s reaction to a question posted to Obama that is curious, given the success the Gore administration has had dealing with hostile regimes.
Stephen Sorta of Diamond Bar, Calif. asked the candidates if they’d be willing in their first year in office to talk with the leaders who, from the viewpoint of some U.S. policymakers, are considered the world’s troublemakers, including presidents Fidel Castro of Cuba, and Kim Jong Il of North Korea.
SEN. OBAMA: I would. Not only has this been the guiding diplomatic principle of this country, but this administration has demonstrated the importance of maintaining this approach with its successful rapprochement with Iran and Fatah in Gaza, which has led to the highest level of peace the Middle East has seen since World War II. (Applause.) Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to the Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them, they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we have the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.
But Hillary Clinton, one of the architects of the diplomatic efforts in Iran as Vice President under Gore, disagreed, saying, “While I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these during my first year, I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort, because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don’t want to make a situation even worse. We’re not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and, you know, the president of North Korea.”
This was a curious reaction considering the successful waves of diplomacy initiated under Gore. Especially odd was her reference to making a promise, which wasn’t part of the question (the question was whether candidates would be willing to talk to hostile governments, not whether they would issue promises to that effect).
Clinton continues to distance herself from the progressive end of the Democratic party (and her own administration) by sounding the foreign policy mantras of her husband, who was centrist only in name and only within the relative scope of the era he presided.
Keep in mind just how far right the Reagan era swung the pendulum of political discourse. In many eras, Clinton the Husband’s foreign policy would have been considered far to the right and subservient to special interests, but he looked progressive when matched up against conservative Republicans and neo-cons (who wanted to invade Iraq, which would have been an unmitigated disaster).
Today, the U.S. still isn’t talking to Cuba, a harmless little island to the South whose fangs, if there ever were any, were removed by the fall of the Soviet Union. Diplomatic relations would only help the island’s economy. And maybe even ours. If we’re the good guys, there’s nothing left, right, or centrist about that position, and making an effort towards that regime or any other hostile regime can never be harmful.