Hillary`s Late Hit

When, in the South Carolina debate,

Barack Obama
said he would meet with the leaders of
Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran and North Korea in his
first year as president, he stepped into a cow pie.

Hillary pounced, declaring that in a Clinton White
House, there would be no promised first-year meetings
with any dictator or enemy of the United States. [Clinton,
Obama in war of words over `rogue leaders`


The morning headline in Miami roared that Obama was
open to meeting Fidel. In the Jewish community, word was
surely being moved that Obama had opened the door to a
face-to-face meeting with Iran`s

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
, a Holocaust skeptic who has
predicted the Israeli state is not long for the Middle
East—and should be transplanted to Europe.

Pundits watching that Citadel debate scored Hillary
the winner, contrasting her presidential sobriety with
Obama`s puppy enthusiasm for talking to tyrants.

Why, then, with press and politicians declaring her
the winner, did Hillary Clinton have to step in and
clock Obama after she won the fight?

The day after the debate, Hillary said Obama had
exposed himself as

"irresponsible and naive."

This gave Barack, who had been busy explaining what
he had meant, an opening to declare that what was

"irresponsible and naive"
was Sen. Clinton`s
vote to give George Bush a blank check to plunge us into
a war in Iraq most Democrats have come to believe was

worst strategic blunder in U.S. history.

Instead of Barack`s impetuosity being the issue,
Hillary`s war vote is now front and center, her greatest
vulnerability in seeking the nomination of an antiwar
party. Her eagerness to exploit Obama`s blunder also
suggests a lack of serenity and confidence in her
double-digit lead over Obama.

In the next debate, Hillary is certain to be put on
the defensive about her war vote, and Obama has been
liberated, by her throwing the first punch, to hit back
hard—on his strongest issue, the war.

A surprising mistake by

Sen. Clinton,
who has run something close to a
flawless campaign. But there is a more substantive issue
here. That is the gravamen of the original question.

Should not the United States be in constant contact
with those we see as enemies, to prevent irreconcilable
differences from leading us into war? Here, Obama`s
instincts are not wrong.


World War II
and the Cold War, FDR and Harry Truman
met with Josef Stalin. Ike invited the

"Butcher of Budapest"
for a 10-day tour of the
United States and tête-à-tête  at Camp David. JFK met
Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna—after he declared,

"We will bury you."
Richard Nixon

went to China
and toasted the tyrant responsible for
the deaths of thousands of GIs in

and greatest

mass murderer
of the last century, Mao Zedong.

None of the five with whom Obama said he would meet
is in the same league with these monsters of the 20th

Kim Jong-il has not launched a war on

South Korea
or tried to assassinate its prime
minister and entire cabinet, as his father, Kim Il-Sung,
did. Syria`s Bashir al-Assad has yet to fight his first
war and has never perpetrated the kind of massacre his
father did in Hama. Yet, George H.W. Bush welcomed Hafez
al-Assad as a fighting ally in the Gulf War.

Castro is the same

evil tyrant
he has

always been
. But Vice President Nixon survived
meeting him, and he is surely less dangerous than the
young Fidel, who reportedly urged the Soviets to fire
their Cuban-based missiles at the United States, rather
than pull them out.

Hugo Chavez is an anti-American demagogue, but also
the twice-elected president of Venezuela. How does he

"The Republic That Never Retreats"?

As for Ahmadinejad, he is not the supreme leader of
Iran, and his nation has not launched a war since the
Revolution of 1979. With no atomic weapons, no ICBMs, no
air force to challenge ours, no navy, an economy 2
percent of ours and its oil reserves running out, Iran
is scarcely an existential threat to the United States.

All of these rulers wish to be seen as defying the
United States, but not one of them—not North Korea,
Iran, Syria, Venezuela or Iran—can seriously be seeking
a major war with the United States that would bring
wreckage and ruin to any or all of them.

What we have in common with them is that neither of
us wants a hot war. As for a cold war, does any one of
these nations represent a long-term strategic or
ideological threat to a United States of 300 million,
with 30 percent of the world`s economy, and the best air
force, navy and army on earth, and a nuclear arsenal of
thousands of weapons?

If Bush can bring Libya`s Muammar Khadafi, who was

for Pan Am 103
, the Lockerbie massacre of American
school kids, in from the cold, why cannot we talk with
Hamas and Hezbollah and Assad and Ahmadinejad?

What has any of them done to us compared to what
Khadafi did?

Though poorly stated, Barack Obama had a point.



Patrick J. Buchanan

no introduction
readers; his book

State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America

can be ordered from