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Obama criticizes McCain for 'naive' foreign policy

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080516/ap_on_el_pr/obama_mccain Obama criticizes McCain for naive foreign policy By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 16, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080516/ap_on_el_pr/obama_mccain

      Obama criticizes McCain for 'naive' foreign policy

      By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 2
      minutes ago

      WATERTOWN, S.D. - Barack Obama laid into John McCain
      on Friday for advancing a tough-guy foreign policy
      that he called "naive and irresponsible," serving
      notice that he's ready to launch a full-throttle
      challenge to the Republican presidential contender on
      international relations in the general election
      campaign.

      Lumping McCain together with President Bush, Obama
      declared: "If they want a debate about protecting the
      United States of America, that's a debate I'm ready to
      win because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to
      answer for." He blamed Bush for policies that enhance
      the strength of terrorist groups such as Hamas and
      "the fact that al-Qaida's leadership is stronger than
      ever because we took our eye off the ball in
      Afghanistan," among other failings.

      McCain agreed, at least, that there were huge
      differences between himself and Obama on foreign
      policy, and said he'd be happy to let the American
      people decide who was right.

      "It would be a wonderful thing if we lived in a world
      where we don't have enemies. But that's not the world
      we live in. And until Senator Obama understands that
      reality, the American people have every reason to
      doubt whether he has the strength, judgment and
      determination to keep us safe," McCain said in a
      speech to the National Rifle Association in
      Louisville, Ky.

      McCain rejected the naive comment, saying Obama should
      have known better, and added: "Talking, not even with
      soaring rhetoric, in unconditional meetings with the
      man who calls Israel 'a stinking corpse,' and arms
      terrorists who kill Americans, will not convince Iran
      to give up its nuclear program. It is reckless. It is
      reckless to suggest that unconditional neetings will
      advance our interests."

      His campaign issued a statement accusing Obama of
      making a "hysterical diatribe."

      The three-way dustup over foreign policy — Bush vs.
      Obama vs. McCain — began a day earlier, when Bush gave
      a speech to the Israeli Knesset in which he criticized
      those who believe the United States should negotiate
      with terrorists and radicals. Obama said Bush's
      criticism was directed at him, and took umbrage; the
      White House denied the president had Obama in mind;
      McCain said Obama must explain why he wants to talk
      with rogue leaders.

      Obama continued the debate on Friday at a town-hall
      meeting in a livestock barn. He said he had planned to
      focus on rural issues during his swing through South
      Dakota, but felt compelled to answer the remarks from
      Bush and McCain.

      "I'm a strong believer in civility and I'm a strong
      believer in a bipartisan foreign policy, but that
      cause is not served with dishonest, divisive attacks
      of the sort that we've seen out of George Bush and
      John McCain over the last couple days," he said.

      Obama said McCain had a "naive and irresponsible
      belief that tough talk from Washington will somehow
      cause Iran to give up its nuclear program and support
      for terrorism."

      Speaking of McCain and Bush together, he added: "They
      aren't telling you the truth. They are trying to fool
      you and scare you because they can't win a foreign
      policy debate on the merits. But it's not going to
      work. Not this time, not this year."

      Obama vowed to turn the foreign policy debate back
      against Bush and McCain, rejecting the notion that
      Democrats critical of the war in Iraq are vulnerable
      to charges of being soft on terrorism. Meeting with
      reporters, he argued that tough-minded diplomacy and
      engagement with rivals have long coexisted, citing the
      foreign policies of former Presidents Kennedy, Nixon
      and Reagan.

      "That has been the history of U.S. diplomacy until
      very recently," Obama said. "I find it puzzling that
      we view this as in any way controversial. This whole
      notion of not talking to people, it didn't hold in the
      '60s, it didn't hold in the '70s ... When Kennedy met
      with (Soviet leader Nikita) Khrushchev, we were on the
      brink of nuclear war."

      He also noted that Nixon opened talks with China with
      the knowledge that Chinese leader Mao Zedong "had
      exterminated millions of people."

      Laying down a marker for the fall campaign, Obama
      offered a challenge to the GOP nominee: "If John
      McCain wants to meet me anywhere, any time to have a
      debate about our respective policies ... that is a
      conversation I am happy to have."

      Other Democrats accused McCain of hypocrisy Friday,
      saying the certain GOP presidential nominee had
      previously said he would be willing to negotiate with
      the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

      McCain told reporters in West Virginia: "I made it
      very clear, at that time, before and after, that we
      will not negotiate with terrorist organizations, that
      Hamas would have to abandon their terrorism, their
      advocacy to the extermination of the state of Israel,
      and be willing to negotiate in a way that recognizes
      the right of the state of Israel and abandons their
      terrorist position and advocacy."

      McCain said there was a "huge difference" between his
      own statements and Obama's willingness to negotiate
      with "sponsors of terrorist organizations."

      "I'll let the American people decide whether that's a
      significant difference or not," he said. "I believe it
      is."

      Obama said he has stated "over and over again that I
      will not negotiate with terrorists like Hamas."

      ___

      Associated Press Writer Glen Johnson in Louisville,
      Ky., contributed to this report.
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