Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, July 18, 2008

End Times?

Remember this?

"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 the Israeli parliament.

"We have heard this foolish delusion before.

"We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history," he said, drawing parallels with the 1930s capitulation to the Nazis. . . .

McCain, in a conference call with bloggers, used similarly emotional language as Bush and repeatedly accused Obama of being naive in his willingness to negotiate with the Iranian leadership. "If Senator Obama wants to sit down across the table from a country that calls Israel a stinking corpse and [whose president] comes to New York and says he wants to wipe Israel off the map, what is it that he wants to talk about with them?" McCain asked.

That was May 15 -- just two months ago. Today, we read this:

Iran's foreign minister today praised the attendance of a U.S. diplomat at this weekend's nuclear talks as "a new positive approach" and suggested that additional steps toward reconciliation could soon take place. . . .

The U.S. has shifted from its confrontational policy of isolating Iran in favor of a diplomatic approach. The administration is also floating a proposal to open a de facto U.S. Embassy in Tehran. U.S. diplomats would go to Iran for the first time in almost 30 years, since the countries broke relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

I suppose the equivalent of Kremlinology in this context would be WhiteHouseology? Anyway, I'm not expert at it. This is a puzzling development. Unless it's a feint intended to provide a fig leaf for the rumored attack on Iran ("We tried making nice, we tried to negotiate, but it just didn't work.") it would seem to signal the collapse of the neocon contingent within the administration. That it so clearly and dramatically undercuts the McCain candidacy makes it all the more astonishing.

Anybody who isn't paranoid these days is nuts, so I'm not taking all this at face value. But one way or another, something interesting is going on.

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