THE PLANK SEPTEMBER 11, 2009
Obama announces two major, unpopular foreign policy decisions on Friday afternoon, when no one in the media is paying attention and the front pages are already reserved for 9/11 anniversary coverage. First, the administration plans to engage in direct talks over North Korea's nuclear program. By rights, this decision should be uncontroversial since, as Marty Peretz has pointed out on The Spine, it's exactly what neoconservative scholar Robert Kagan and others advocate. But that probably won't stop John McCain and Bill Kristol from banging their shoes on the table and crying "appeasement."
Second, Obama says he will accept an Iranian proposal for talks after publicly rejecting the same offer a day earlier--despite the fact that Tehran has explicitly ruled out bargaining over its nuclear program. Apparently, the Russians refused to back a new sanctions push, depriving Obama of his biggest diplomatic stick, so he decided to "accept a vague Iranian plan for talks on security issues as the opening gambit to draw Tehran into real negotiation." Good times.