THE BLOG
10/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The McCain-Kissinger Flip Flop

Did McCain just change his position on Iran?

John McCain and Barack Obama got into an argument tonight over Henry
Kissinger's position on  Iran. During the debate
McCain said Obama's position was not the same as Kissinger's. McCain
said that Kissinger
"said that there could be secretary-level and lower
level meetings. I've always encouraged them."
This is a correct characterization of Kissinger's position. And you
could say that this represents a slight difference
between Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger. But McCain saying that "he has always" encouraged talks with Iran just isn't true. McCain has never
supported talks with Iran at the Secretary of State level.  So either McCain has massively shifted positions on Iran or he is completely misrepresenting his position on Iran.

This is McCain's position:

And the belief that somehow communications and positions and
willingness to sit down and have serious negotiations need to be done
in a face to face fashion as Senator Obama wants to do, which then
enhances the prestige of a nation that's a sponsor of terrorists and is
directly responsible for the deaths of brave young Americans, I think
is an unacceptable position...

Kissinger:

"Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran.
And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a
Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear
proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it.
And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of
state level so that we -- we know we're dealing with authentic..."
Sesno: "Put at a very high level right out of the box?" Kissinger: "Initially,
yes. And I always believed that the best way to begin a negotiation is
to tell the other side exactly what you have in mind and what you are
-- what the outcome is that you're trying to achieve so that they have
something that they can react to.
Now, the permanent members
of the Security Council, plus Japan and Germany, have all said nuclear
weapons in Iran are unacceptable. They've never explained what they
mean by this. So if we go into a negotiation, we ought to have a clear
understanding of what is it we're trying to prevent. What is it going
to do if we can't achieve what we're talking about? But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.
We ought, however, to be very clear about the content of negotiations
and work it out with other countries and with our own government."
(CNN's "Live Event," 9/20/08)

The fact is that McCain has never said he was willing to talk to Iran
at the Secretary of State
level. His statement tonight either represents a massive policy shift or represents a massive misrepresentation of McCain's position.

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