The Bush administration has decided to “send a senior American official to participate in international talks with Iran this weekend,” effectively abandoning “its longstanding position that it will only meet face-to-face with Iran after it first suspends uranium enrichment“:
President George W. Bush has authorized the most significant U.S. diplomatic contact with Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, sending the U.S. State Department’s third-ranking official to Geneva for a meeting this weekend on Iran’s nuclear program, administration officials said.
The decision appeared to bend, if not exactly break, the administration’s insistence that it would not negotiate with Iran over its nuclear programs unless it first suspended uranium enrichment.
Bush’s decision to allow American diplomats to meet with Iranian officials — while welcome — is surprising. In fact, just two months ago, Bush said, in a speech before the Israeli parliament, that those who favor rigorous diplomacy with Iran (including his own Defense Secretary) are supporting a policy of appeasement toward terrorists:
As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
Conservatives in the media and on the campaign trail echoed Bush’s remarks. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “wholeheartedly endorsed” Bush’s comments, while Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) added that the remarks were “exactly right.”
As Bush makes the “most significant U.S. diplomatic contact with Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979,” the question must be asked: Will the right castigate President Bush for seeking the “false comfort of appeasement”?