In Reversals, Bush, McCain Embrace Progressive Positions on Iran and Afghanistan
July 18, 2008

Will McCain Next Embrace Obama's Iran Position as Bush Has?

Two long-held progressive positions were embraced this week in stunning foreign policy reversals by George Bush and John McCain. First, the Bush administration will sit down at the negotiating table tomorrow with Iran and is seriously considering establishing a permanent diplomatic presence in Teheran. Second, John McCain - after downplaying  Afghanistan in his campaign and failing to attend a single hearing on Afghanistan the past two years - has reversed himself and embraced Sen. Obama's plan to increase our troop commitment. The Bush administration has also signaled that, like progressives, it wants to respond to commanders' in the field and increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan. John McCain has yet to indicate whether he still believes diplomatic talks with Iran represent appeasement, or whether he will join President Bush and embrace Obama's position on Iran as well.


Bush administration reverses course on Iran, seems to embrace progressive calls for diplomacy.  The Bush administration announced this week that it will send Undersecretary of State William J. Burns, the State Department's third-ranking official, to international talks in Geneva with Iran about its nuclear program tomorrow. The Bush administration is also considering opening a diplomatic presence in Iran in the form of a so-called interests section, rather than a fully staffed embassy.  However, officials caution, the idea has "not been approved by the White House and could be delayed or blocked by opposition within the administration." These shifts represent a marked reversal from statements Bush made in the Knesset in May of this year: "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

[NY Times, 7/18/08]

[White House, 5/18/08]

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