It's in a discussion of Senator Obama's statement last July at the Youtube/CNN debate that he'd be willing to meet separately (and without conditions) with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. By the way, here's what Senator Obama said. This is what started all those "appeasement" smears:
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. Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to 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 and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.As David Corn points out, the answer wasn't as nuanced as it should have been.
Both Senator Clinton and Senator Edwards responded to the same question, saying that diplomacy is important but that it should start out with low-mid level contacts and then maybe move up. Here's Senator Clinton:
Fair enough. But as George H. W. Bush's Secretary of State said:
Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries 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. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration. And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.
And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.
Transcription from Fox "News":
My view is that you don't just talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies, as well. And the diplomacy involves talking to your enemies. You don't reward your enemies ... necessarily, by talking to them if you're tough and you know what you're doing. You don't appease them. Talking to an enemy is not, in my view, appeasement. I made 15 trips to Syria in 1990-1991 at a time when Syria was on the list of countries who are state sponsors of terrorism. And the 16th trip, guess what? Lo and behold, Syria changed 25 years of policy and agreed for the first time in history to come sit at the table with Israel, which is what Israel wanted at the time. And, thereby, implicitly recognized Israel's right to exist.So what did The Trib have to say? Here it is:
Even top Democrats are distancing themselves from Barack Obama's pledge to, without conditions, engage in talks with our enemies. Mr. Obama has attempted to nuance his position -- low-level diplomacy would precede high-level talks -- but the damage has been done and political foes are correct to exploit it. ... Ever on the wrong side of rational thought, The Toledo, Ohio, Block Bugler editorializes that "it's hard to argue that a more civil approach to the nation's enemies wouldn't be more successful." So that's what negotiating with terrorists is -- "a more civil approach"? Yet again, logic continues to be on extended holiday at The Bugler.Note they don't say which Democrats are distancing themselves. Nor do they note the Republicans who think diplomacy is a good thing (like Secretary Baker, above). But look again at what they quote from the P-G:
...it's hard to argue that a more civil approach to the nation's enemies wouldn't be more successful.And how they criticise it:
So that's what negotiating with terrorists is -- "a more civil approach"? Yet again, logic continues to be on extended holiday at The Bugler.Now where does that quotation come from?
Here. It's the editorial from Monday the 19th. Here's the passage in full:
During a Democratic debate last year, Mr. Obama signaled his willingness to talk with North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran without preconditions. After years of failed unilateral action and cowboy diplomacy Bush-style, it's hard to argue that a more civil approach to the nation's enemies wouldn't be more successful.It's easy to see the misdirection The Trib is trying to pull off. The point of the P-G's editorial was that a more civil approach (that is to say, diplomacy) has to be more successful than Bush's failed "cowboy diplomacy."
The Trib missed the point (or maybe they were looking to change the subject). In any event, we can't expect the Trib's editorial board to understand such a complicated sentence.