Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has long criticized those who are willing to meet with adversaries of the U.S., slamming Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for willing to engage Raul Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela:
– “These steps would send the worst possible signal to Cuba’s dictators: There is no need to undertake fundamental reforms; they can simply wait for a unilateral change in U.S. policy.”
– “I know that his naivete and lack of experience is on display when he talks about sitting down opposite Hugo Chavez or Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad.”
But today, McCain supporter Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) broke with McCain and told reporters that he is planning personal meetings with Chavez and Raul Castro. Specter said he has met with Fidel Castro three times and boasted of pictures with Chavez:
I met [Fidel] Castro on three occasions, as I detail in my book, and I’d like to see Raul Castro. There’s a real opportunity to get Cuban cooperation on drug interdiction, which I talked to Fidel Castro about. I’d like to follow up on that. I also would like to see trade and tourism develop. [… ]
Then I also hope to see Chavez — that fellow right there, there are three of us in that picture. … I’m a firm believer in dialogue and I think that there’s potential to salvage the relationship with Chavez which would be very helpful in Latin America.
In fact, Specter said he had recently written a letter to Raul Castro. “I think he’ll see me,” he said. Specter recounted that his August 2005 meeting with Chavez had tangible, positive results for the U.S.:
I had a chance to meet with him. There’s a serious drug problem, and I was able to arrange a meeting between the US ambassador and the Venezuelan Minister of the Interior. They worked out a protocol for some cooperation on drugs. … I believe that the conversation that I had with Chavez was a serious conversation.
Does McCain find Specter, the 16th-most senior member of the Senate, to be “dangerously naive?” Is Specter advocating policies that are “dangerous to American national security?” We await the condemnation.