Posts Tagged ‘China’

Nixon to China

June 25, 2009

If the Iranian regime manages to remain in power, should the Obama administration go forward with diplomatic negotiations with them?

It’s an interesting question.  In my opinion, the answer is yes.

The issues we need to discuss with Iran — nuclear proliferation chief among them — are of the sort that you can’t just let drop, just because the government you’re negotiating with is in power only through violent repression of their people.  It’s why Nixon went to China to talk with Chairman Mao.  It’s why presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan engaged in talks with Soviet dictators.

People say it would be politically risky for Obama to negotiate with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad now.  True, there would be people who would explode in opposition to it.

Take Nixon, again.  Remember all the politicians who went apey over Nixon’s visit to China?

Me, neither.

Which is my point.  Those people were so terrifically wrong that history has forgotten them.  Negotiating with China was the right thing to do, despite the fact they were really, really bad guys.

How about Reagan.  Remember all those people who blew their stack when he went to Reykjavik to negotiate nukes with Gorbachev?

Me, neither.  History has completely forgotten them, too.

In both cases, it’s not that there weren’t politicians and groups who strenuously objected to negotiating with those regimes.  There were — hard-core anti-communists.  But they were wrong.  The judgment of history is so utterly against them that it’s not even worth remembering their names.  What we do remember is that Nixon made the world safer by opening relations with China, and that Reagan made the world safer by signing a nuclear reduction treaty with the Soviets.

Obama would do well to remember that.