Last week, President Bush sharply attacked Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) argument that the president “should never fear to negotiate” with its adversaries. Bush (hypocritically) alleged such diplomacy legitimizes “tyrants,” such as those leading Iran and Cuba:
It will send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity. … Well, talking to him is embracing. Excuse me. Let me use another word — you’re right, “embrace” is like big hug, right?
Just days later, Iraq engaged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in one-on-one talks, despite the “acrimonious history between Iran and Iraq,” fighting a bloody war just twenty years ago.
In fact, Ahmadinejad was cheerily embraced in Iraq, “greeted with hugs and kisses by top Iraqi officials.” Iraqi President Jalal Talabani “smiled broadly” at Ahmadinejad, clasping hands and walking down a red carpet together.
Discussing the talks beforehand, Bush said, “The message [from Iraq] needs to be: ‘Quit sending in sophisticated equipment that’s killing our citizens.’” Nevertheless, Bush ally Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared to have rejected this demand, in fact praising Iran’s “helpful” position:
At a news conference with Ahmadinejad, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq seemed to defy American hopes that he would criticize Iran for meddling inside Iraq. “I think that the level of trust is very high,” Maliki said. “And I say frankly that the position Iran has taken recently was very helpful in bringing back security and stability.”
Bush has slammed Obama for wanting to engage Iran, but he has not leveled similar criticism at al-Maliki for “sitting down at the table” and “having pictures taken” with a “tyrant.”