a challenge

John Bolton challenges Barack Obama’s non-cowboy diplomacy. Read it here.

At first glance, the idea of sitting down with adversaries seems hard to quarrel with. In our daily lives, we meet with competitors, opponents and unpleasant people all the time. Mr. Obama hopes to characterize the debate about international negotiations as one between his reasonableness and the hard-line attitude of a group of unilateralist GOP cowboys.

The real debate is radically different. On one side are those who believe that negotiations should be used to resolve international disputes 99% of the time. That is where I am, and where I think Mr. McCain is. On the other side are those like Mr. Obama, who apparently want to use negotiations 100% of the time. It is the 100%-ers who suffer from an obsession that is naïve and dangerous.

Negotiation is not a policy. It is a technique. Saying that one favors negotiation with, say, Iran, has no more intellectual content than saying one favors using a spoon. For what? Under what circumstances? With what objectives? On these specifics, Mr. Obama has been consistently sketchy.

Bolton also says that countries like Iran can use negotiating talks as a ploy to buy time while they continue to chart the same destructive course. To be fair to Senator Obama, we do need more specific details under what circumstances and conditions he would agree to meet with countries like Iran. It’s possible that his foreign policy vision has undergone some evolution from the beginning of his campaign until this particular challenge, so if Barack Obama really wants to fight this battle directly with McCain, I’m with John Bolton — bring it on.

I’m anxious to hear his grand plan on how to get dictators and other foreign heads of state who desire our destruction and Israel’s to stop their evil intentions. In truth, foreign policy is a difficult business. No president has ever handled it perfectly. We have no guarantees that Barack Obama or John McCain will make every right decision, but we should have this foreign policy debate before we decide who should be President.