Monday, June 23, 2008

The Crowded Table

Have you noticed that already in the course of this presidential election Barack Obama (among others) has been criticized for saying that he might be willing to negotiate with, say, Cuba or Iran if it seemed fruitful to do so. Such willingness, apparently, might make America look weak.

The thing that increasingly amazes me as I think about this is that a lot of the same people making this critique believe that the US would look weak if it were to take "any option off the table." But apparently in this lexicon, diplomacy literally is not an option. Leaving all options on the table is shorthand for "We reserve the right nuke Tehran."

So, it's sober politics to say, "Well, we might nuke you if it seems useful." And it's crazy talk to say, "We might talk to you if seems useful." Got it.

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