A Terrible Negotiating Tactic - Island of Sanity

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A Terrible Negotiating Tactic

Barack Obama, a Democrat candidate for president, recently (April 2007) said that if President Bush vetoes the bill setting a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, the Democrats should just give in rather than engage in a conflict that would "play chicken with our troops".

The Daily Kos, a leading liberal web site, had this angry response:

What a ridiculous thing to say. Not only is it bad policy, not only is it bad politics, it's also a terrible negotiating approach.

Instead of threatening Bush with even more restrictions and daring him to veto funding for the troops out of pique, Barack just surrendered to him.

Let me repeat that -- Obama just surrendered to Bush.

I'm laughing so hard I'm having trouble typing this article.

The Democrats want to set a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. That is, they have openly told our nation's enemies that if they just hold out for a few months, the U.S. will surrender. Republicans replied that such a message could only encourage our enemies to fight harder and kill more Americans. The Democrats insisted that such a conclusion is ridiculous and a smear tactic.

Then one of their number makes a public statement that the Democrats should set a timeline for giving up on this bill. And the more stalwart Democrats are furious: To set a timeline for giving up is "a terrible negotiating approach" and "surrender" to their political opponents.

Well, duh. Of course it is a foolish negotiating tactic to tell your opponents that if they just stick to their guns for another few weeks or months, you will surrender. The Kos is absolutely right. But isn't there a little hypocrisy here? If it's foolish to tell domestic political opponents that you are considering surrender, where the potential price is losing political points, isn't it plain stupid to tell foreign enemies that you are considering surrender, where the price is losing your fellow citizens' lives?

© 2007 by Jay Johansen


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