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Reacting to Baker Video, McCain Slams Obama's Judgment

By Juliet Eilperin
In an interview with reporters aboard his campaign bus today, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) continued to harshly criticize Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for his approach to handling hostile leaders. In order to meet with such leaders, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said, they would have to indicate they were ready to make key policy concessions that would advance U.S. interests.

"So the point is, if there is be quote, discussions, they are to be with preconditions, they are to be with a specific goal that your adversary is agreed to, and that is not to enhance the respect and prestige of your adversary in their country, and internationally," he said. "There's a huge difference there, and it's got to do with experience, knowledge and judgment, none of which Senator Obama has."

He stopped short of using the "appeasement" language President Bush has used to characterize the foreign policy thinking of Obama and other Democrats, saying, "I don't think they're, quote, appeasers. I think they have bad judgment."

When asked about former secretary of state James Baker's comment in 2006 on Fox News -- "Diplomacy involves talking to your enemies" -- McCain said that as secretary of state, Baker engaged in talks only with adversaries who seemed open to changing their tactics.

"When Secretary Baker was secretary of state, they didn't talk to Castro. They had a very strict position on whether to negotiate with him or not," McCain said, adding that he backed talks with Libya once its leaders made it clear they were willing to abandon their nuclear weapons program. "When there's a country that wants to achieve a goal that's in your and their interest, then conversations and discussions are certainly appropriate."

McCain also made a distinction between administration officials -- whether it was Baker under George H.W. Bush talking to Syria or America's current ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, meeting with his Iranian counterpart -- meeting adversaries and the president meeting such foes. "I share many of his views about low-level discussions and negotiations," he said. "That's vastly different from the president of the United States sitting down across from the leader of a country dedicated to the extinction of the State of Israel. I think most Americans can see that difference very clearly."

While Democrats attacked McCain for adding on a new precondition to engaging in talks with Cuba -- free and fair elections -- the senator maintained he had not shifted his stance on the matter.

"My position on Cuba has been exactly the same, and there is no evidence -- except for someone's allegation -- that I have had a change in policy," he said.

"I have always supported the position that before any normalization of relations can take place, free elections, emptying the political prisons and human rights organizations functioning has to take place. That has been my position for 24 years."

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 20, 2008; 6:02 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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Comments

Hot headedness, stubborness that McCain is showing now is exactly a carbon copy from this current admin. Watch out Hillary supporters.

Posted by: bigben1986 | May 21, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Hot headedness, stubborness that McCain is showing now is exactly a carbon copy from this current admin. Watch out Hillary supporters.

Posted by: bigben1986 | May 21, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

May your God Bess you John. From a Canadian, Dam, the world is watching. I copied your forum and hope you don't mind, or take it off.
We will always be one so yes I am happy with this forum.
I live in America, I am 50 years old and a veteran, and no matter how we look at the problem, the answer does not change. I live in a racist, bigoted and ignorant country. The worst part is that this is a land of cowards that prefer it that way. Few people in America can look someone in the eye and say: "you are different from me and I fear you, my fear will not let me give you a fair chance."
What experience does Sen. Clinton or Sen. McCain have that Sen. Obama does not? Knowledge of how to spin the truth? Copied this from an AMERICAN. And from a Canadian I would say Wake up. Your hated, your scared, your politicians have done the job well. Get with the program. You need Canada, water, oil, etc. So bring your children home for gods sake. We can do so very much with each other and have in the last many years before you vote. So let John talk-Knowing when to have plausable deniability? Selective memory of the facts that make up your own life?
Pres. Bush had eight years (20 if you count the years in his fathers shadow) to show what you need for the job of President is a reality check, and the good common sense to use it sometimes. Honesty would be a good trait too, but too much to hope for.
Unfortunately what the majority of americans will settle for is white male. We need to get past that before this countru can make any true progress

Posted by: justadad55+ | May 21, 2008 2:02 AM | Report abuse

What a stupid position mccain has.
"When there's a country that wants to achieve a goal that's in your and their interest, then conversations and discussions are certainly appropriate."
If the country already wants to do what we want then what the heck are the talks about?
According to Mccain, we will only talk to Iran if they suspend their nuclear program, stop funding terrorists, recognize Israel, blah blah blah. If Iran already did all that , what will you talk about???? You need diplomacy to talk to enemies , not friends.

Posted by: stupid mccain | May 21, 2008 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Cuba is the furthest thing from a threat to America right now. You could make an argument that Cuba is a threat to its own people, but they've gone through a surprisingly productive period, recently. With Fidel out and Raul in, making all these changes, now would be the perfect time to extend the olive branch.

Negotiate with Raul: He can keep the dictatorial power for as long as he's in office, but if he makes postmortem arrangements to give Cubans basic civil liberties, we'll make arrangements to lift the embargo. Like a Pharoah releasing his slaves in his will.

Ironically, Freedom would be the Castros' last gift to the Cubans. And Camelot-successor Barack Obama would be the one to lift Kennedy's embargo.

Posted by: Steve Charb | May 20, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

So, which one is only a "possible" threat this time? Cuba, or are you referring to Iran again?

Posted by: JakeD | May 20, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I saw James Baker say the same thing at the LBJ Library in 2006. His story about Syria is a great lesson. Talking is not appeasement and it was you do when you talk. Was it appeasement when Bush talked to Libya?
We talked and maintained diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union while they supplied the North Vietnamese with weapons and keep John McCain prisoner. Nixon was heralded for going to China and opening relations with a key supporter of the Viet Cong. Figure it out... McCain is dead wrong on this.

Posted by: Bradcpa | May 20, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

That's Bush-speak. Let's work ourselves up into a lather about a possible threat, only talk to people who agree with us, smear everyone else as dangerous, unpatriotic freedom haters and then attack pre-emptively. That's worked great so far! Let's have at least four more years of that.

Posted by: thebob.bob | May 20, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

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