Now that Barack Obama has turned his attention to the general election, he needs to move away from his MoveOn-endorsed positions in order to make a claim among centrists and independent voters. Yesterday he tried doing exactly that on Iran, and ABC noticed the shift. After spending most of the last eighteen months criticizing the Bush administration’s efforts on Iran, he has transformed into a hawk that now espouses the same policies as the current White House:
In his speech Wednesday before the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama sounded a bit like the more hawkish officials in the Bush administration.
He said the military option is “on the table” for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, and in stark contrast to earlier statements, he said he would meet with Iranian leaders “if and only if it can advance the interest of the United States.”
Obama’s tone was strikingly different from it has been in the past.
During a debate last summer, he said he would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders and other American adversaries “without preconditions” during the first year of his presidency. Today, he made it clear that we should not expect a President Obama to be sitting down with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad any time soon:
“[A]s president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing if and only if it can advance the interest of the United States. That is my position. I want to be absolutely clear.”
The Obama campaign insisted that Obama has not changed his position, but ABC quotes him verbatim from last July’s YouTube debate to demonstrate the extent of his shift. He made clear his opposition to the notion that direct, head-of-state level talks with terrorist nations endorsed and encouraged their terrorism. Now he has adopted that premise in arguing against talks prior to the Iranians suspending their uranium enrichment.
As ABC points out, that is also the Bush administration position. Condoleezza Rice has publicly stated that the US would be willing to meet at the highest levels if the Iranians verifiably suspended uranium enrichment and stopped funding terrorists. This White House held ambassador-level talks with Iran about the security issues in Iraq even without those preconditions, talks which the Iranians refused to continue. Obama’s arguing for the Bush policy that he claims has gone so wrong.
Readers of Hot Air will not be surprised that Obama has flip-flopped on Iran. They may be surprised to see ABC or any of the American media report on it.