National Public Radio presidential debate

And I have to say that when I brought this up early on in this campaign, I was called naive and irresponsible. And yet the point, the reason for that was not necessarily because we're going to change Ahmadinejad's mind. It's because we're going to change the minds of people inside Iran, moderate forces inside Iran, as well as our Muslim allies around the region, that we are willing to listen to them and try to engage in finding ways to resolve conflicts cooperatively.

SIEGEL: Senator Christopher Dodd.

SEN. DODD: Well, this is longstanding. I mean, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we had – there were, I think, classified ads in The Washington Post trying to find out if there was anyone in the region who spoke Arabic. This has been a vacuum for a long time in terms of our relationship with the Muslim world, the 22 countries of the world that are Muslim nations. We've been basically AWOL on dealing with these nations here, and that has bred a lack of understanding and appreciation, the point I think that Barack was trying to make here.

But also over these last six years, despite this effort over the last few days in Annapolis, where has this administration been on the Middle East issues here? They are connected in many ways here. It appears definitely here that we're sort of just — we're not engaged at all. Over the past years, both Republican and Democratic administrations have made it a part of their agenda to stay engaged, to make it clear that we're an honest broker trying to resolve the issue of Israel's security as well as the legitimate issue of Palestinians seeking an independent state. We've walked away from that. And that — that — that absolute — that absence of our participation, as well as our failure to understand and to try to have a better feeling for what the culture of the Muslim world is, I think has created the very environment you talked about.

SIEGEL: Last word on this topic from Dennis Kucinich.

REP. KUCINICH: Thank you.

To answer your question directly, we need to reach out to Muslim nations and to tell them America's taking a different direction — no more unilateralism, preemption, first strike. We're going to — our policy will be strength through peace. As the one up here who not only voted against, but voted 100% of the time against funding the war in Iraq, the war in Iraq was used to create a wedge between the United States and Islam. The — the buildup to an attack on Iran was really a danger to Israel because everyone knows that Israel would have paid the price for the United States' wrongheaded policy. That's not being discussed in any of the analysis yet, but I'm here to say it.

We need to protect and provide for the security of Israel and to make sure that the Palestinians can have a state, and it has to be done under circumstances where the security of all parties, and the civil rights and human rights of all parties, are — are protected.

SIEGEL: Well, this question comes from a listener. It's political science professor Chris Pence (ph) of Marion, Indiana.

PROF. CHRIS PENCE (MARION, INDIANA): (From tape.) American diplomatic history books recount the Monroe Doctrine, the Truman Doctrine, and will likely discuss the Bush Doctrine. When future historians write of your administration's foreign policy pursuits, what will be noted as your doctrine and the vision you cast for U.S. diplomatic relations?

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