Friday, February 22, 2008

Nukes Invisible in Dem Debate

Last night's Democratic debate in Austin, Texas reflected the changes in the public's primary election concerns over recent months. Iraq and other foreign policy issues largely took a back seat to the economy, health care, and immigration. The action also included recent political but not policy-related headlines from the campaigns - accusations during what Obama called the election's "silly season".

Overall, while the candidates' tried to highlight the nuances of their positions, the debate reflected the overall similarities of their policy stances. Unlike other recent debates, however, that took at least a brief look at nuclear issues, nukes didn't make it into the Austin debate once. Relative to other issues examined by Nukes of Hazard, only a few comments were made.

Fidel Castro's recent resignation announcement in Cuba provided a launching point for the candidates to highlight their differences in regard to diplomatic interaction with nations including Iran and North Korea.

Obama reiterated his commitment to presidential negotiations with these foreign leaders.

I do think it is important, precisely because the Bush administration has done so much damage to American foreign relations, that the president take a more active role in diplomacy than might have been true 20 or 30 years ago.


If we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time, and I think that it's important for us, in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step.


I do think that it is important for the United States not just to talk to its friends but also to talk to its enemies...In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.
Clinton asserted her caution toward high-level direct negotiations, focusing instead on mid-level talks.
I believe that we should have full diplomatic engagement, where appropriate. But a presidential visit should not be offered and given without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest.

There has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting without preconditions with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations, and it should be part of a process. But I don't think it should be offered in the beginning because I think that undermines the capacity for us to actually take the measure of somebody like Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad and others.
On Iraq and terrorism, Obama highlighted again his consistent position against the Iraq war.
What I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation - whether or not to go to war in Iraq - I believe I showed the judgment of a commander in chief. I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that. Now, that has consequences. That has significant consequences because it has diverted attention from Afghanistan, where al Qaeda, that killed 3,000 Americans, are stronger now than at any time since 2001.
Given that the debates don't appear to be the place to find details on the candidates' positions on nuclear issues, you can check out these resources:

No comments: