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Commentary Last Updated: May 20th, 2008 - 01:26:05

No, George, diplomacy is not appeasement
By Mary Shaw
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 20, 2008, 00:10

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On May 15, George W. Bush gave a speech to the Israeli Knesset in which he took an apparent swipe at Barack Obama's promise of diplomacy in foreign policy.

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush told his audience.

He added, "We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

He even dragged Hitler into the same speech, seeming to imply that Obama would have probably wanted to appease the Nazis.

This is a prime example of the Bushco strategy of twisting words, distorting their meanings, and exaggerating the resulting untruths to the point of absurdity.

No, George, diplomacy is not appeasement. And diplomacy has not been repeatedly discredited by history. In fact, diplomacy is what has made possible today's modern globalized civil society, imperfect though it may be.

But there are some things that surely will be discredited by history.

Like using a national tragedy as an excuse to invade an oil-rich country that had nothing to do with that tragedy and which, at the time, posed no threat to the U.S. or our allies.

Like detaining our prisoners in the "war on terror" for years without due process, even though a study by Seton Hall University found that 55 percent of Gitmo detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies.

Like authorizing the use of torture in interrogations, even though it is illegal and immoral, and even though it doesn't work, and even as you look into the camera and tell the world, "We do not torture."

Like warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

Like outing a covert CIA agent -- one who, incidentally (and ironically), was responsible for ensuring that the bad guys did not get nuclear weapons.

Like vetoing a bill that would provide health care for children because it would necessitate a raise in cigarette taxes.

Like vacationing while New Orleans was drowning.

And like arrogantly refusing to engage in diplomatic discussions with anyone you disagree with.

These are the policies that will be discredited by history, George -- along with your entire presidency, which has already been discredited, as evidenced by your dismal approval rating, which has now fallen into the 20s.

You live in a glass house, George. Be careful where you throw those stones.

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:

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