In a speech before the Israeli Knesset last month, President Bush sparked controversy when he attacked those who would “negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.” Bush said “we have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement.”
CNN reported at the time that “White House aides” said that Bush was referring to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and other Democrats who have “publicly said that it would be ok for the U.S. President to meet with leaders like the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.” Watch it:
Apparently, Bush too once thought it was “ok” to engage in negotiations with Iran. In his new book, War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel provides excerpts of an interview he conducted with President Bush last year, in which Bush said “we can talk to Iran“:
We can have meetings. Talking is not the problem. We can talk to Iran. But Iran wants nuclear weapons and I’m not going to let that happen. Not on my watch. We tried to have dialogue with Syria, right after the war, didn’t get much.
Like his Secretary of Defense, it’s clear that President Bush once understood that the mere act of talking is not “appeasement.” But now that it’s political season, Bush seems more interested in taking partisan potshots than approaching policy seriously.