AP Photo by Charles Dharapak
Former US secretaries of state urged the next US president to work closely with key allies, engage with Iran, and avoid ruptures with awkward partners Russia and China.
Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, James Baker and Henry Kissinger gave advice at a panel [at George Washington University] that often appeared closer to the views of Democratic candidate Barack Obama than to Republican John McCain.
On Iran and Syria, both Republican and Democratic former secretaries backed engagement when they spoke at a panel at George Washington University. McCain slammed Obama earlier in the campaign for taking a similar stand.
“Let’s get together and talk about nuclear weapons… Start a dialogue at a low level and let it grow over time,” said Powell, who served President George W. Bush in his first term.
While serving for President George H.W. Bush in the 1990s, Baker recalled that the elder Bush’s administration offered to meet with Iran at the highest diplomatic level, but Iran refused for its own political reasons.
Kissinger, who served under both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, said: “I’m in favor of negotiating with Iran.” The US aim would be to achieve a stable Middle East, he said.
Baker, Christopher and Albright also backed engagement with Syria.
All of these people understand and have experience with international diplomacy. And of course the Republicans in the group are traditional American conservatives – not the neocon nutball flavor of the month.