Charles Krauthammer offers a strong column today on Barack Obama's national security naivety:
For Barack Obama, it was strike two. And this one was a right-down-the-middle question from a YouTuber in Monday night's South Carolina debate: "Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?"
"I would," responded Obama...
Obama enthusiasts might want to write this off as a solitary slip. Except that this was the second time. The first occurred in another unscripted moment. During the April 26 South Carolina debate, Brian Williams asked what kind of change in the U.S. military posture abroad Obama would order in response to a hypothetical al-Qaeda strike on two American cities.
Obama's answer: "Well, the first thing we'd have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response -- something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans."
This was a serious mistake. As I pointed out over here though, there's a bigger problem. It's bad if Obama does not understand the significance of having diplomatic relations with the U.S., and engaging in summitry. It is a grave error to believe that our adversaries on the world stage want the same thing the United States wants.
Stepping up our talks with Iran will not boost the cause of stability and democracy in Iraq--at least by itself. Iran does not seek that. Iran likely seeks the establishment of a pro-Iranian Shia-led regime, or it may just seek the status quo: instability. Even if President Obama were to welcome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Camp David, Iran would still oppose the establishment of a secular, pluralist regime in Baghdad.
And Hugo Chavez seeks to establish himself as leader of an anti-Washington bloc of Latin American countries. This ambition goes beyond George Bush; he disagrees with the U.S. goal of encouraging the continued development of free-market democracies in Latin America. If Obama thinks that Chavez is going to turn over a new leaf merely because leadership in Washington has changed hands, he's in for a disappointment.
And it's mistakes such as these that give the GOP candidates hope for 2008. Each of the leading Democrats has one or more flaws that might prove fatal. For Obama, it's inexperience and a lack of understanding of national security. Expect the Hillary machine--on the strength of articles such as Krauthammer's--to argue that Obama can't win the general election, and to build her advantage over her nearest rival.
Be sure to check out Ed Morrissey as well, who shows why Barack Obama is like Tom Hagen. It could be worse for him of course; at least he's not Fredo.