The difficulty in discussing these issues with you Andrew is the constantly changing circumstances of your arguments. We went from a president meeting with the leader or leaders of Iran to your most recent references to Iran-Contra, in which the president did not meet with the leaders but is claimed to have dealt with them behind the scenes (that is in dispute, by the way). Of course, that is off-topic, and is intended to be.
Jonah’s recent post, linking to others, is excellent, but again, the issue is should President McCain meet with the leaders of Iran without pre-conditions. And, Andrew, your clearest point (clear in terms of expression not content), at least to me, seems to be, what do we have to fear? Let me try responding this way. I have spent decades in the law, and much of law involves the art of persuasion through negotiation. You have to know, or try to discern, when it’s best to talk or not talk, and what to say or not say if you do talk. You have to be prepared to act (or not act) as an alternative to talking, or be prepared to act in response to talks that prove useless or even counter-productive. It is irresponsible as the leader of our nation to go into talks with an enemy of our country without something more than a lack of fear. My guess is your next post will explain how I am misstating your position. Oh well.
As Jonah’s posts, and many, many others, make clear in their recitation of recent history, from the U.N. to the Europeans, to our own back channels, talking to the Iranians has not only been useless but likely worse — counterproductive. It appears to have emboldened them, as they’ve bought time to advance their nuke program. And since all the non-presidential talks have been occurring, Iran’s rhetoric has hardened, its promotion of Hezbollah has continued apace, and it is now reportedly in direct discussions with al-Qaeda.
So, while you continue to promote a presidential meeting with Iran’s leaders on the basis that we have nothing to fear, I hope somebody smarter than both of us is preparing a more thoughtful strategy of destroying that regime. They only direct presidential talks I would favor are their terms for surrender.