In an October, 2006 appearance on Fox News, James A. Baker, Secretary of State during the first Bush administration, emphatically challenged the notion that talking to adversaries constitutes “appeasement”:
BAKER: You don’t just talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies as well. Diplomacy involves talking to your enemies. You don’t reward your enemies necessarily by talking to them if you are tough and you know what you are doing. You don’t appease them. Talking to an enemy is not in my view appeasement.
While Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently said it is “naive and irresponsible” to talk to U.S. adversaries such as Iran, two months before Baker’s Fox appearance, McCain said Baker is “the smartest guy I know.”
McCain also referred to George H.W. Bush’s National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft as “the smartest guy I know.” But Scowcroft has said that the embargo on Cuba — which McCain supports — “makes no sense.”