Engage your Enemies

Engaging your enemies can be wise--as Ronald Reagan's diplomatic success proved

Illustration by Alex Nabaum for TIME

John McCain and President Bush have double-teamed Barack Obama (whom I formerly advised), attacking his willingness to talk to adversaries like Cuba, Iran and Syria. Bush has invoked the "false comfort of appeasement," while McCain has said Obama's approach is "naive" and "shows a lack of experience." McCain is generally seen as a centrist Republican, but in this attack he appears to have embraced the view of a minority contingent of militant conservatives who over the past 60 years have howled virtually every time a President has taken the risky step of engaging hostile states.

The anti-engagers denounced Dwight Eisenhower and...

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