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October 22, 2008

Does Palin Know What a Precondition Is?
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Doesn't sound like it according to this exchange with Brian Williams.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Gov. Palin, yesterday, you tied this notion of an early test to the president with this notion of preconditions, that you both have been hammering the Obama campaign on. First of all what in your mind is a pre-condition?

PALIN: You have to have some diplomatic strategy going into a meeting with someone like Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il, or one of these dictators that would seek to destroy America or our allies. It is so naive and so dangerous for a presidential candidate to just proclaim that they would be willing to sit down with a leader like Ahmadinejad, and just talk about the problems, the issues that are facing them, that's some ill-preparedness right there.

Ummm..  What Palin is describing is what would be called preparation not preconditions.  Just to be clear.  Not negotiating until preconditions are met means not starting your negotiatins until the other side has met some kind of condition you imposed.  In the case of Iran, McCain insists that the Iranians suspend their uranium enrichment program before we can even begin to negotiate.  Obama opposes this preconditions.  The basic argument against preconditions is that you can't ask your adversary to give up a big negotiating point in exchange for absolutely nothing and expect them to actually sit down at the table.  Doesn't happen.  Didn't happen when we dealt with the Soviets or the Chinese.  And so then you have no exchange of information whatsoever and can't find points of common interest or negotiate.   You end up in a total stalemate.

Anyway, this is not very complicated.  It also happens to be the crux of one of the most important foreign policy issues being debated between Obama and McCain.  You'd think Sarah Palin would understand this.  But at least its comforting to know that she is against sitting down for a major international summit without first doing some preparation.  I guess that qualifies her to be President.

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