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Debate: Obama, meeting with hostile foreign leaders without preconditions

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===Background and Context of Debate:=== ===Background and Context of Debate:===
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 +The debate over Barack Obama's position on meeting with foreign leaders without preconditions became a central component of the 2008 elections during a CNN/YouTube debate, on July 24th, 2007. He was asked, "Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?" Obama responded, "I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous."
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===Write Subquestion here...=== ===Write Subquestion here...===

Revision as of 20:28, 27 July 2008

Is Barack Obama justified in his willingness to talk to foreign leaders without preconditions?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

The debate over Barack Obama's position on meeting with foreign leaders without preconditions became a central component of the 2008 elections during a CNN/YouTube debate, on July 24th, 2007. He was asked, "Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?" Obama responded, "I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous."


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Yes

  • US has a history of meeting with rogue leaders without preconditions. President Kennedy met with Nikita Khrushchev at a time when the two nations were on the brink of nuclear war. President Nixon met with China's Mao Zedong, even "with the knowledge that Mao had exterminated millions of people." Obama said, "And yet, we understood that we could advance our national security by at least opening up lines of communication. It's a signal of how badly our foreign policy has drifted over the last eight years."
  • "Preconditions" for talking are often what need to be talked about. Barack Obama - "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 met preconditions that are, essentially, what Iran views and many other observers would view as the subject of the negotiations."[1]
  • Not talking to rogue nations does not punish them. Obama, D-Ill., said after being asked at the CNN/YouTube debate whether he would meet with rogue nations without preconditions, replied, "Yes. I would. And the reason is this: that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous."
  • Meeting unconditionally does not mean meeting for no purpose. Meeting without "preconditions" does not mean meeting with rogue leaders without any specific purpose in mind.
  • John F. Kennedy said, we should never negotiate out of fear but we should never fear to negotiate.

No

  • Obama's offer would cause rogue leaders to invite a meeting. Michigan Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra, responding to the notion of these requests, predicted, "That would be an untenable position for the President of the United States to be put in."[2]




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Yes

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No

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Yes

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No

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