Today William Katz at Urgent Agenda posts Never Fear? I comment below the star line.
Here's Katz - - -
Occasionally we get a newspaper piece written by those who actually do the research, have absorbed the facts, and can apply a reasonable perspective to a political stand. Here, two writers, in a New York times op-ed piece, pretty much wreck Barack Obama's naive stance on negotiations.
In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy expressed in two eloquent sentences, often invoked by Barack Obama, a policy that turned out to be one of his presidency’s — indeed one of the cold war’s — most consequential: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy’s special assistant, called those sentences “the distinctive note” of the inaugural.A little problem...
But Kennedy’s one presidential meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, suggests that there are legitimate reasons to fear negotiating with one’s adversaries. Although Kennedy was keenly aware of some of the risks of such meetings — his Harvard thesis was titled “Appeasement at Munich” — he embarked on a summit meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961, a move that would be recorded as one of the more self-destructive American actions of the cold war, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.And...
Senior American statesmen like George Kennan advised Kennedy not to rush into a high-level meeting, arguing that Khrushchev had engaged in anti-American propaganda and that the issues at hand could as well be addressed by lower-level diplomats.
But Kennedy went ahead, and for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader. Despite his eloquence, Kennedy was no match as a sparring partner, and offered only token resistance as Khrushchev lectured him on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, cautioned America against supporting “old, moribund, reactionary regimes” and asserted that the United States, which had valiantly risen against the British, now stood “against other peoples following its suit.”
Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.” The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world.Too intelligent and too weak.
Does that remind you of a certain Illinois senator?
The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.If Barack Obama wants to follow in Kennedy’s footsteps, he should heed the lesson that Kennedy learned in his first year in office: sometimes there is good reason to fear to negotiate.
There's a lot to think about here. But since those journalists who are in the tank for Obama are emotionally opposed to thinking, I'm not too optimistic.
The "Kennedy talked, Khrushchev triumphed" tag identifies its authors as journalist Nathan Thrall and Jesse James Wilkins, a doctoral candidate in political science at Columbia University.
Katz has done an excellent job of IDing "the guts" of what they say and adding some comments of his own we should all be thinking about.
Today was my first visit to Katz's blog, Urgent Agenda. I looked around and liked what I saw. I hope you visit it here.
Hat tip: Mike Williams