Obama Leads on Iran and Iraq – Bush and McCain Follow
Leadership is an interesting concept. The first few lines of Wikipedia’s entry on leadership discuss leadership as being:
1. Those entities that perform one or more acts of leading.
2. The ability to affect human behavior so as to accomplish a mission.
3. Influencing a group of people to move towards its goal setting or goal achievement.(1)
However you define leadership, Barack Obama has an overabundance of it and has done something unprecedented with his ability, no pun intended.
For the past seven years, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the GOP have been repeating the mantra that to negotiate with the leaders of countries with whom we have serious disagreements is tantamount to appeasement. That is the excuse they gave for not moving forward our relationships with Iran, North Korea and a host of other countries, to paraphrase, “We cannot talk to them, that would be appeasement.” (2)
Bush, McCain and other Republicans have aggressively sought to hang the ‘Appeasement’ label around the neck of any Democrat that has called for talks with Iran or North Korea, They have also termed any desire to bring the troops home from Iraq ‘defeatism’.
Enter Barack Obama. Obama has been the presumptive Democratic nominee for less than two months and is having an impact on American foreign policy. Various outlets are reporting that the Bush and McCain political teams have joined forces and are working on trying to help McCain with the election. To counter Obama’s popular message regarding bringing home the troops from Iraq and dialoguing with Iran, the Bush/McCain political team has decided that the Bush administration will negotiate with Iran on nuclear weapons and the Bush team has also decided that we will start bringing home troops from Iraq.
A sitting President from the opposite party is capitulating to Obama’s leadership on Foreign policy. I don’t think there is anything like this that has ever happened in the history of American politics and government.
The combined Bush/McCain think tank, (Doesn’t the idea of a combined Bush/McCain think tank sound like an oxymoron?) is doing this because they believe that the public prefers Obama’s foreign policy to Bush/McCain’s and they are trying to blunt his popularity in hopes of having a chance at winning this election. Again, this is a stunning testament to the power of Obama’s leadership.
It is also a testament of the inability of Bush/McCain to be leaders and provide leadership and proof of how unpopular their views have become.
Stepping back from the context of the current campaign for a moment, I wonder what could have been over the last seven years if Bush and the Republicans hadn’t been selling the American people and world this garbage about diplomacy being appeasement. What would have happened if the Bush team had done the right thing from the very beginning and engaged the James Baker wing of the Republican Party in trying to solve our problems with Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Palestinians and North Korea rather than engaging in saber rattling at every turn? How different and how much better of a world this would be? That is a crime that the Bush administration has committed that is so enormous it is incalculable.
I have been a supporter of Barack Obama since February precisely because I recognized this amazing ability of Obama to lead. When I examined him further, I saw that this ability was married with compassion and humility and the thoughtfulness and brilliance of a Harvard educated lawyer selected to the Harvard Law Review and the moral courage of a person willing to confront his own bases of support about things he felt they were doing that was wrong. This is a country desperate for thoughtful leadership, and we will get that when we elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States.
(1). Wikipedia on Leadership - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership
(2). New York Times, “McCain Agrees With Bush’s Remarks on Appeasement“ - http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/15/mccain-agrees-with-bushs-remarks/