September 27th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Kissinger defends McCain on Iranian relations

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger defended McCain's stance on Iranian relations Friday night.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger defended McCain's stance on Iranian relations Friday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a response after Friday night's presidential debate, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger defended Sen. John McCain's attack against Sen. Barack Obama for Obama's willingness to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "without precondition."

Immediately following the debate, the McCain campaign released a statement from Kissinger backing the Republican nominee's sentiments on structuring any talks with Iran.

"Sen. McCain is right. I would not recommend the next president of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the presidential level," Kissinger said in the statement.

"My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Sen. John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality."

McCain and Obama sparred during the debate over how to best handle relations with Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly threatened Israel. Both candidates referenced Kissinger's comments from a CNN forum last week in which former secretaries of states discussed several topics including Iran, and the
presidential candidates disagreed over what Kissinger had said.

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soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. Reese from Ohio

    People slamming Henry Kissinger now? Wow...This man virtually put an end to the Vietnam war. Stood against Nixon and came out smelling like roses because of his deep integrity, Stood up to the Russian powers and verbally talked them down from using Nuclear weapons against us and made them our ally instead of number 1 enemy. Never mind the Noble Peace Prize that is also on his list of achievements.

    It's interesting that people can still defend O'Bama who clearly stated last night that he will go into one of our Allies countries against their will and start dropping bombs.

    Huh? Like this country needs to start another war. Like U.S.A. would allow some other country to cross our borders to attack someone they thought was hiding out here.

    O'Bama is dangerous on so many levels this isn't CUTE anymore. Get real, and protect our country from this rogue liberal.

    September 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    John McCain's ideas were all OLD ideas. Foreign policy left over from the Cold War is no way to start the 21st century. Obama came across as a statesman and McCain came across as an angry old man.

    September 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. Amanda

    are we really surprised? him and McCain are one in the same. anyone who votes for McCain is just afraid of CHANGE. if that's the case, you deserve whatever the repubs have in store for you. REAL TALK

    OBAMA '08

    September 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. mike-boston-ma

    These old guys need some 21st century update!!

    September 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. AMR, Minnesota

    I hope this gets coverage by the media. Obama was so sure he was right and that Kissinger would back him up and look what happened. I want to hear from the mouth of Obama himself that he was wrong at this point of the debate.

    September 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Enzo from Canada

    I think Obama extrapolated a bit too much on what Kissinger was saying, but the whole point (and what I thought Obama should have emphasized) is that McSame ISN'T even in favour of negotiating AT ALL, period. He's totally like Bush, cowboy diplomacy, which isn't diplomacy at all.

    McSame is only NOW talking about negotiations with Iran because he sees that even the Bush administration (unbelievably) is now involved in diplomacy. The only way of converting an enemy is by talking. Obama WILL do that. McCain couldn't even look at Obama, how's he going to negotiate with Iran or anyone else in the world for that matter?

    I say, go Obama!

    September 27, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Tony

    How many times does Obama have to say that he isn't going to immediately run out and shake hands face to face with these people asap? He WAS talking about lower level talks not presidential sit downs. This article in no way goes along with the title. Kissinger's opinion doesn't matter more than anyone else's if you ask me.

    September 27, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Ron L

    This is another case of ONE person refusing to listen to the other.
    Sen. Obama said in the FIRST debate over a year ago that he would meet these different leaders with NO preconditions.
    LESS THAN ONE WEEK LATER he admitted he misspoke and meant he would first have LOW LEVEL meetings with other members of his adminstration and THEN he would meet with these leaders.
    This was over 11 months ago and Senator McCain continues to act like it was never said...
    ALSO the BOTTOM LINE here is we have been IGNORING Iran for the last 7 years and they are a BIGGER problem than ever before...

    September 27, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Allen

    I could care less about the semantics. Bush did not meet anyone isolate everybody and now all the countries that he isolated are stronger and more belligerent. It seems to me that we need a change in policy.
    McCain has the same disney view as Bush, we are good...they are bad. The good guys always win??? Wow! no wonder we are in two wars and have a crippling financial market. We should talk to our enemies and then if they refuse to negotiate, lay the smack down. It only strengthens our position later if we have to go to war or ask for sanctions.

    September 27, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. mike-boston-ma

    Read down there-Mccain camp-" I hope I made you proud tonight".

    Yes Sen. Mccain, you made me proud of my support of Barack Obama the next President of united states!!

    September 27, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. et from Washington State

    When we decide as a people that we must first "give peace a chance" then we will talk to our enemies first and resort to military intervention as a last resort. I don't care how my next president chooses to speak to other leaders as long as they speak to them!

    September 27, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Laura

    Isn't this elder a Republican? Of course he'll back up McCain. Enough said. Old policies don't work anymore, look where it's gotten us. McCain too quick on going to war with everybody. Can someone tell McCain it's ok to talk.

    Ex-McCain supporter.

    September 27, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. amr, Minnesota

    I hope this gets covered by the media. Obama was so sure that Kissinger would back him up on his claims, and look what happened! I want to haer from Obama's own mouth that he was wrong at this point in the debate.

    September 27, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Ons

    Diplomacy, Diplomacy this is a hard word for McCain to undersatand but it even come late with Bush administration. It means we can talk to our Enemies and Friends, so don’t think that isolating some countries like Iran and Korea will ever stop them from Nukes ambitions, We can strike some lever of negotiations until at one point we will strive the point home one good Example Mohammed Gaddafi of Libya, after different kinds of negations and offer he’s our allies. So McCain Bush’s policies and ideology that somehow not talking to our enemies is punishing them should learn a lot from Libya. I have seen the distraction of high headed and sturbone leadership. They don’t even want to admit that going to Iraq was a mistake. So keep pumping our resources there when they are banking their money from oil. The prime minister stated that he wants a time table, Bush said time horizon so the only one who does not getting it is McCain 100 years in Iraq, when Osama is walking freely in Afghanistan.

    September 27, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. THE O

    Sorry to say but Kissenger was for diplomacy before he was against it.
    Who to vote for the guy who voted for the war, or the guy who voted for all the deregulations. maybe perhaps the guy who sings songs about bombing Iran, and who lives in the past. Sorry but I will vote for the guy who will use diplomacy, and who belives in our future and is not stuck in the past....

    BARACK THE VOTE!!!!!!!!

    September 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Ken, Los Angeles California

    Im beginning to wonder whether preparation and pre-condition are the same things, Obama is right in saying preparation yes pre-condition no, you present your conditions in the negotiation and not before.

    September 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. Rob

    the senile crowd has to stick together . Their yesterdays news and its really time to move on .

    McCain is acting like someone that has a stroke –very scary. And Palin is unable to even talk

    September 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Dan Stevens

    To those with a broken caps-lock key: I don't care who you are supporting, you are not adding anything to the discussion by calling people names. Go get your keyboard fixed. You are being annoying.

    Anyway, I think the title of this article is misleading. After reading the transcript from the debate, it seems McCain, Obama, and Kissinger all agree that we need to talk to Iran, and they also all agreed that the president shouldn't go off and talk to the leaders of the Iranian government without having lower level talks first. The whole argument seems to be based around McCain's mischaracterization of Obama's stance.

    Twisting words to make the other guy look bad is something I'm sad to say both candidates have been doing quite a bit of, and what specific words they try to put in eachother's mouths is not worthy of discussion here. Let's find out what they really stand for and make our decisions based on that.

    September 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Post the FACTS CNN

    CNN can't you even fact check when someone said something on your own network??????

    From Bloomberg, (3/14):
    Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said the U.S. should negotiate directly with Iran over its nuclear program and other bilateral issues. "One should be prepared to negotiate, and I think we should be prepared to negotiate about Iran," Kissinger, who brokered the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur war and peace talks with the North Vietnamese, said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Asked whether he meant the U.S. should hold direct talks, Kissinger, 84, responded: "Yes, I think we should."

    And from from CNN, (9/20):
    Kissinger: "Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we - we know we're dealing with authentic..." Sesno: "Put at a very high level right out of the box?"

    September 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Tayo, NY

    May be Mr. Kissinger was sleeping when he was talking about Iran on CNN sometimes ago.

    Its easy to forget and now try defend your friend.

    September 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. Out with the Old in with thw New

    The bottom line is McCain's policies and hot tempered fury is a thing of our past. America is looking to move beyond the state we are in today, not glorify and pat the backs of the corrupt degenerates who got us here in the first place.

    What was McCain thinking using Kissenger as a reference? Apparently he was thinking the same thing when he chose his VP.

    All we have seen in the last year from McCain is a string of blunders that is only bound to continue. McCain should be looked up too for a lot of things he has done with his life, but as with McCain's ability to make an informed, well thought out and practical desicion , this is a thing of the past.

    We need change America, we're tired of the same old thing and McCain is nothing more then that. McCain is in the past, Obama will move us into the future.

    Let's end the Era of Terror- Obama 08

    September 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. leslie

    McCain is the only one to show real foreign relations knowledge and Marie is right about Obama trying to name-drop and got caught lying. It was pathetic of Obama.

    Kissinger is above reproach from empty suits, new-to-the-scene and completely ignorant, and people who think he's too old to know anything. Don't dis a man with this much experience and knowledge, he is the MOST HIGHLY respected diplomat in the world. Stop your whining and quiet lashing out at others, when you don't clearly understand the significance of these events in history.

    September 27, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. peter

    As I read all the blogger comments, I want to say this to the ones that don't think Obama should sit down and talk to the president of Iran, lets see how you will feel when your sons and daughters have to go to a war that could have been prevented by just talking. As I get older the people in this world really puzzle me, you cry about being tired of WAR but you support someone who rather take the Country to war, than to talk. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

    September 27, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. jp,michigan

    Talk about following the advise of old men, Obama sure likes the policies of Jimmy Carter and his administration

    September 27, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. amir

    well not talking to these "problem" countries has worked up until now?
    Old and out of date perspective for and old and out of date man.

    Obama 08!!! Believe it!

    September 27, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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