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Old Fashioned Dialog
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The Obama Plan For International Relations Is What America Needs

By James Donahue

Republican opponents of Barack Obama say they worry about his “lack of experience” in national security and say they believe his determination to pull American combat units from Iraq shows his failure to understand military affairs.

We can expect to hear this argument a lot this fall, expressed in a variety of ways, if and when Mr. Obama faces off against his Republican rival, Vietnam combat veteran John McCain. McCain supporters will cite his military experience as a primary reason why Americans should trust the old veteran rather than let a young, untried “child of the 60s” like Obama deal with the mess in Iraq.

From our perspective, and from the way McCain has been standing in support not only of the Iraq war effort but in keeping troops in place, it is clear that the choice before voters this year is between a continuation of the failed Bush foreign policies, or trying something else.

When looking at it in that light, Mr. Obama has to be the best choice. He has expressed a determination to pull American combat units from Iraq as soon as possible, and pledged to open dialog with so-called “rogue nations” like Iran, Syria, Venezuela and North Korea without preconditions.

This, in essence, is exactly what most people in America want, and we believe it also is the desire of the Iraqi people. Nothing would make them happier than to have U.S. forces leave so they can get on with rebuilding their ruined state in the way they wish . . . not by capitalistic American design.

We have all heard ominous reports that Iran has been sending arms, advanced bombs, and trained al Qaeda fighters into Iraq to fight our forces. This has been one of the reasons the Bush Administration has been pressing for some kind of military action against Iran. But MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on May 12 revealed that an unveiling of some 20,000 collected bombs and weapons used by militant forces against American troops were recently examined by U.S. explosives experts. The conclusion was that none of them came from Iran.

The story Bush has been telling . . . that our fight in Iraq is against al Qaeda and other insurgents . . . also has been a fabrication. When we attacked Iraq, former dictator Saddam Hussein was found to have had no links with al Qaeda, and any presence of forces from that militant group there now is a result of our presence there. Some analysis’s question if al Qaeda is there at all.

Our troops are mostly caught in the midst of a civil war that we cannot win. This is why the dream by the Bush Administration to press the American installed Iraqi government to progress toward a reconciliation among Sunni, Shia and Kurd tribal groups may be impossible to achieve by posting armed peacemakers in their midst. The only solutions appear to be to rule the country with an iron fist, as Hussein did very successfully, or let them fight it out until one group emerges the victor.

Air Force Lt. General Thomas McInerney, a pro-Iraq war hawk and analyst for Fox News, once expressed concern about Obama’s “apparent lack of understanding on the threat of radical Islam to the United States.”

Indeed, that radical Islamic faction hit us hard on 9-11 and sent the Bush Administration off into the insane spiral of “War Against Terrorism.” His decisions sent forces into Afghanistan and Iraq, and stripped Americans of many of their constitutional freedoms but did little to thwart the threat of terrorism. We are all keenly aware that it exists. What we still don’t understand is why the Islamic militants attacked us. This is why open dialog between the U.S. President and leaders of other nations . . . especially those countries that express open hostility toward us . . . is so important.

There is an old saying that it is impossible to hate someone that you personally know. Dialog may not solve differences of opinion, or differences in ideologies between nations, but it will help us understand one another and perhaps, if we have the right kind of people at the helm, avoid future warfare.

President John F. Kennedy talked on his red telephone with Russian President Nikita Kruschev during the Cubian Missile Crisis and that important dialog stopped what nearly became World War III.

President Richard Nixon went to China and held dialog with the late Chairman Mao that softened relations between these two nations.

Obama's plan to talk to leaders of problem nations is not without precedent. George W. Bush was wrong when he failed to do it.