Rahm: Bush and McCain Are Following Obama’s Foreign Policy Lead

By Kelly Moeller

Jul 17, 2008 4:23pm

House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., today claimed that President Bush (not to mention Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.) are following the lead of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in foreign policy.

"Who is leading who on foreign policy?" asked Emanuel in a statement. "The Bush administration is right to follow Senator Obama’s lead by engaging in diplomatic efforts with Iran, cracking down on Al Qaeda, and supporting additional troops in Afghanistan.  But in every case, it’s politics first, policy second – first the Bush administration and Senator McCain play political games, and then they decide to do the right thing and follow Senator Obama’s lead."

His case is fairly bereft of nuance, and can of course be argued, but here it is:

IRAN:

NOVEMBER 2007:  OBAMA URGES TALKS, THEN BUSH AND McCAIN ATTACK…JULY 2008:  BUSH FLIPS AND CHANGES POLICY

OBAMA URGES DIPLOMACY, November 2007. Associated Press: Obama Says US Must Try Talking to Iran.   

BUSH ATTACKS. Bush Describes Diplomacy with Hostile Regimes as "Appeasement." "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history." [Bush Speech to the Knesset, 5/15/08]

McCAIN ATTACKS. Washington Times: McCain needles Obama on pledge to talk with Iran.

BUSH FLIPS AND FOLLOWS OBAMA, July 2008. Washington Post: American Envoy To Join Iran Talks; Move Is Departure From Prior Policy

**

AFGHANISTAN:

AUGUST 2007: OBAMA CALLS FOR MORE TROOPS…JULY 2008: BUSH AND McCAIN FLIP AND CHANGE POLICY

OBAMA CALLS FOR MORE TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN, August 2007: "As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations . . ." [Obama speech at Wilson Center, 8/1/07].

OBAMA CONTINUES CALLS FOR MORE TROOPS, June and July 2008: "If we’re going to catch bin Laden or most importantly break down al Qaeda, which have reconstituted itself as stronger now than anytime since 2001, we’ve got to have the capacity to put more troops in Afghanistan." [CNN, 6/7/08]. 

BUSH HAS TROOPS BOGGED DOWN IN IRAQ. Joint Chief Said He Could Not Send More Troops to Afghanistan. During a press conference Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen  said, "I don’t have troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq." [Mullen Press Conference, 7/2/08]

BUSH FLIPS, July 2008. Associated Press: Bush says US to send more troops to Afghanistan.

McCAIN FLIPS. ABC News: McCain Shifts Position on More US Troops to Afghanistan.

**

IRAQ

SEPTEMBER 2007: OBAMA CALLS FOR BRIGADES TO COME OUT OF IRAQ, BUSH AND McCAIN ATTACK…JULY 2008: BUSH FLIPS, BRIGADES COMING OUT

OBAMA CALLS FOR BRIGADES TO COME OUT OF IRAQ, September 2007: Obama proposes a plan to withdraw 1-2 brigades a month from Iraq. [Speech On Turning The Page In Iraq, 9/12/07].

McCAIN ATTACKS: "We must once again reject, as we did in early 2007, the calls for a reckless and irresponsible withdrawal of our forces just at the moment when they are succeeding," [John McCain, 4/7/08]

BUSH FLIPS, July 2008: U.S. to cut troop levels: AP: "The Pentagon’s top military officer [Adm. Mike Mullen] said Wednesday that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions in Iraq this fall."

**

Yesterday ABC News’ Martha Raddatz asked White House press secretary Dana Perino about the Iran aspect of this.

RADDATZ: Why is this different from what Senator Obama has suggested, sitting down and negotiating?

PERINO: Well, our condition remains the same that there will not be any negotiation unless they suspend their uranium enrichment.

RADDATZ: And you just flat out say this is not negotiating, even though there’s someone sitting there in the room with the Iranians?

PERINO: The underlying — absolutely, because he’s going there as a part of the international community showing their unity when it comes to the underlying fundamental principle, which is that there will not be any negotiations unless Iran suspends its nuclear — uranium enrichment.

RADDATZ: Can you understand why people might look at what’s happening now and go back and think about what the President said in the Mideast about those who negotiate with terrorists or talk to terrorists –

PERINO: As I just said –

RADDATZ: — as an appeaser?

PERINO: As I said, there is no negotiation here. We are going there. Under Secretary Burns will be there as a part of the international community showing our unison that we are going to provide two paths for the Iranians from which to choose — one, that they could accept the incentives package, and then if it’s verified that they have halted their uranium enrichment, then there will be negotiations. And that’s what I would seek to explain to the American people.

- jpt

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