Friday, September 26, 2008

Roll With Me, Henry


That didn't take long. As I noted below, McCain backed Obama into a corner after Obama asserted that Henry Kissinger supported Obama's approach regarding Iran. Sure enough, Kissinger has weighed in. From Jennifer Rubin:




But the killer quote came from Henry Kissinger whom Obama had invoked to criticize McCain’s stance that we should not meet unconditionally with Ahmadinejad. Kissinger retorted: “Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.”


Unforced error for Obama. And millions of people saw it. That's gonna leave a mark.

8 comments:

Gino said...

notice kissinger has his hand on sarah's thigh.
cant say i blame him.

Anonymous said...

Mark,
I am not too convinced that this was a big Gotcha moment. Kissinger may be playing it up that way, but that doesn't hold up if you go back and look at the documents of record.

Have you read the entire transcript of the September 20th panel that Obama took Kissinger's quote from?
If you do, it is quite apparent that Kissinger is now either being disingenuous, or is retracting his statement from that night.

You can read the entire panel discussion here:
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0809/20/se.01.html

Kissinger was being questioned by Frank Sesno, and it is clear that Kissinger was referring to negotiations with Iran and, as Sesno noted, negotiations "at a very high level right out of the box."

Here are the salient quotes from Kissinger:

1) But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations. We ought, however, to be very clear about the content of negotiations and work it out with other countries and with our own government.

and

2) Initially, yes. And I always believed that the best way to begin a negotiation is to tell the other side exactly what you have in mind and what you are -- what the outcome is that you're trying to achieve so that they have something that they can react to. Now, the permanent members of the Security Council, plus Japan and Germany, have all said nuclear weapons in Iran are unacceptable. They've never explained what they mean by this. So if we go into a negotiation, we ought to have a clear understanding of what is it we're trying to prevent. What is it going to do if we can't achieve what we're talking about?

On Friday night, when Obama asserted that Kissinger endorsed talks with Iran without preconditions, Obama did not say that Kissinger hoped to begin those talks at a particular level -- although Kissinger clearly did say that.

So according to the quote you cited, when Kissinger responded, he did so to an assertion that Obama never made: "Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality."

Kissinger was employing an old debating trick that I am sure you are familiar with; He was answering a charge that was nevr leveled.

Moreover, if Kissinger's views on Iran are "entirely compatible" with John McCain's, which I believe is a fair invocation of the transitive principle, and if Kissinger's quote in the September 20th panel discussion is accurate, then there seems to be very little substantiave difference between Obama and McCain on conditions relating to negotiations with Iran.

Regards,
Rich

Mark Heuring said...

Rich,

1) It took you about 300 words to refute Henry Kissinger and it required you to namecheck Frank Sesno and refer to the transitive principle to do it. I’ll listen to you, but no one else would.
2) It’s moot anyway because no one in the media is talking about it.

Anonymous said...

BTW,
any idea where Palin was on Friday night? Just wondering.

Rich

Anonymous said...

Mark,
I gotta talk to somebody about this stuff, and you are one of the only people I know who cares to.

Rich

Mark Heuring said...

I'm here for ya, Rich. :)

Best,
Mark

Anonymous said...

Mark,
if you are interested, enfant terrible Christopher Hitchens parses this entire story here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2201130/

Love him or hate him, Hitchens is easily one of the best writers in the blogosphere, and is a neo-con who happens to despise Kissinger, so you never no what you are going to hear from him, but it is almost always entertaining.

Rich

Mark Heuring said...

Hitch has been feuding with Kissinger (well, not really – he’s been attacking Kissinger and Kissinger has been ignoring him) for probably 30 years. He is an entertaining read but he has lots of vendettas (including a weird one with Mother Teresa) and you have to take that into account. For me, he’s a lot like Camille Paglia – leftist but never hesitant to call his own side out.