In Their Own Words Part II: A Growing Consensus for Diplomacy?
Jim Fine, FCNL
See the first section of quotes from the Petraeus-Crocker hearings on Iraq this week.
Senator George Voinovich Adds That the Diplomacy Needs to Signal "We're on Our Way Out."
"And some of us have talked about this and what we think we need to have is a surge of diplomacy during this period of time. The witnesses that were in last week to tell us -- said that we should take advantage of this 10-month period between this administration going out and the next one coming in. And if we don't -- if we don't do it in terms of diplomacy, if we don't sit down with the Syrians and the Saudis and the Egyptians and tell them, 'Hey, guys, we're on our way out. We have to leave here because of our own financial situation and we're stressed out to the point where we've got to do this. Now, understand this -- and it's not in your best interest to see the thing blow up. It's time for you to step in and start taking some action in bringing people together.'
General Petraeus Suggests a Little More Diplomacy on the Way Back to Iraq
"There has been pretty extensive diplomatic activity. Even the ambassador and I have participated in this. I've gone to Jordan. He's gone to a number of different Arab countries. We've both been to Bahrain, to Qatar and others. We may stop on the way back in a country as well…"
Senator Obama Tells Crocker a Diplomatic Surge Must Include Iran and a Timetable for Withdrawal
"I believe that we are more likely to resolve it, in your own words, Ambassador if we are applying increased pressure in a measured way. I think that increased pressure in a measured way, in my mind -- and this is where we disagree -- includes a timetable for withdrawal -- nobody's asking for a precipitous withdrawal, but I do think that is has to be a measured but increased pressure -- and a diplomatic surge that includes Iran because if Maliki can tolerate as normal neighbor-to-neighbor relations in Iran, then we should be talking to them as well. I do not believe we're going to be able to stabilize the situation without them."
Meanwhile, in an April 9 Senate Appropriations hearing, Senator Arlen Specter (PA) Urges Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Launch Unconditional Talks with Iran
Sen. Specter: "We all know that among the many pressing problems the United States faces, none is more important than our relation with Iran and the threat of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. And the multilateral talks and the sanctions in the United Nations are very, very important. But I would again take up and urge the bilateral talks. You were successful on the bilateral talks with North Korea in structuring an agreement… But Madame Secretary, in the waning days of the administration, in light of the intensity of the problems, why not use the approach taken in North Korea and engage Iran in bilateral talks to try to find some way of coming together with them on the critical issue of their building a nuclear weapon?"
Sec. Rice: "Senator, I think we've made clear that we don't have a problem with the idea of talking to the Iranians. I said at one point in a recent speech that we don't have any permanent enemies, so we don't-"
Sen Specter: "Well, but without preconditions."
Sec Rice: "…They have only one thing to do, which is to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing efforts, and then everybody will talk to them. And I've been clear that we're prepared to talk to them about anything, not just about their nuclear-"
Sen. Specter: "But Secretary Rice, they don't need talks to have a cover to proceed with whatever it is they're doing. They're proceeding with that now. I've had some experience. I haven't been secretary of State and I haven't been in the State Department, but I've been on this committee -- subcommittee for 28 years and chaired the Intelligence Committee, talked to many foreign leaders, and frankly, I think it's insulting to go to another person or another country and say we're not going to talk to you unless you agree to something in advance. What we want them to do is stop enriching uranium. That's the object of the talks. How can we insist on their agreeing to the object that we want as a precondition to having the talks?"
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