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. Jerome

    Preconditions vs No preconditions with preparations: Fact is Obama is right, we can't have this misconception of thinking that certain rogue leaders are going to bend to U.S demands based on certain preconditions. Think about it, don't you think its arrogant of the U.S. to think it my way or the highway. The U.S. is the only country to have sanctions against Cuba mostly because of human right issues (or so they say that is the reason). So tell me, why are there no sanctions against china. Maybe because they are a big trading partner. Don't you think that is being hypocritical.

    The U.S. reputation on this planet is not what it used to be. There is alot of hate, mostly because of U.S arrogance. Obama recognizes the U.S reputation is tattered and needs to be repaired. Diplomacy is a lost art on the U.S. part and I belive Obama is the man that will lift the U.S. reputation in the eyes of the world.

    Last point please read The art of War (Sun Tzu), which is required reading for anyone who is a military strategist, politation or upper management of a company. Its about diplomacy and strategy.

    September 27, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Shannon

    Kissinger said that he thinks it is a good idea at the secretary of state meets with Irsael. Isn't that what Obama was saying. Its funny to me that Mccain got that wrong even though Kissinger seems to be backing mcsain and going back on what he had said. And another thing why didn't Mccain look at Obama it was so disrepectful. He is not a gentalman just a angry old man. I do not wan this guy as our next president if he treats all americans like this than we've got a problem.

    September 27, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Michael

    Regardless of who said what, I believe the point is we need to talk to our enemies as much as to our allies. I believe McCain was very clear on how he would lead in international relations, the same as Bush. I believe McCain did not help the situation between Russia and the United States by saying what he did about Putin. I believe McCain does not understand that while Russia was in error with Georgia, we cannot and should not alienate them. I believe Obama was right when he said we need Russia and China when it comes to Iran.

    Iran is a Russian ally; we cannot simply do what we wish with Iran without paying a price with Russia. Now some may not see that as a bad thing but we all must remember if we or Israel attack Iran and Russia responds in kind then that creates a shooting war between the United States and Russia. We must remember that a shooting war is exactly what we have tried to avoid for the last fifty years. We must remember that a conventional shooting war with Russia could very well lead to a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia.

    It is a foregone conclusion that there is no such thing as a winnable nuclear war, there is no such thing as a limited nuclear exchange. If we get into a shooting war with Russia and it goes nuclear, which logic suggests it will, everything we know, and love is gone. Now there are some of you who will call this fear mongering and that I am just an Obama supporter trying to scare people. I am an Obama supporter and I am not trying to scare people. I am one who looks at the big picture, looks at worst-case scenarios and the worst-case scenario is a shooting war with Russia.

    I do not agree with McCain or Obama on this missile defense system, I believe it is foolish and will do nothing but restart the arms race. If we wish to protect ourselves and our allies from nuclear weapons then get rid of nuclear weapons. This missile defense system does nothing but provoke those who wish us ill will to test our defenses. If it doesn't work, we are in a nuclear war because we are still at launch on warning, if it does work; we are still in a nuclear war because we are still at launch on warning. Therefore, the question remains, what does this so called system protect. Whoever is in the White House come January does not instill a lot of confidence for me. I would rather have Obama as McCain because with McCain I feel there is more of a chance of going to war with Russia and that is something humanity can simply not afford.

    September 27, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. bal

    Wait a minute...hasn't Kissinger been QUOTED as saying he supports negotiations without conditions? Hasn't he been QUOTED as saying that it should start at the low levels and then go up to the presidential level? Come on CNN, go to the quote itself, not just the defensive posture of Kissinger and McCain. Obama was right-Kissinger DID say that we should negotiate with conditions, but where's the fact check on that?

    September 27, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Maritime Gal

    It seems Kissinger's Memory like McCain's is short! Check the last line.

    From FactCheck.Org
    Kissinger Sept. 20: 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...
    CNN's Frank Sesno: Put at a very high level right out of the box?

    Kissinger: Initially, yes.But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.

    September 27, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. mary cleveland, ohio

    The problem here is that Obama didn't say that Kissinger said it would be advisable for the PRESIDENT to sit down with one of the Iranian leaders, and Obama didn't say that either. Obama simply said that the former Secretaries of State had said there should be meetings, as opposed to the Bush and McCains' opinion that there should be no contact whatsoever. McCain was double talking or confused (or both), and Kissinger might have seemed to back up McCain, when in fact, Kissinger DID say that there should be communications, he just didn't say on the PRESIDENTIAL LEVEL AND OBAMA DIDN'T SAY ON THE PRESIDENTIAL LEVEL EITHER.

    September 27, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. paula

    According to

    Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.

    September 27, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |


    September 27, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Larry King and Brian Wallace of 60minutes have sat with Ahmedinajad for interviews. Why fear a fellow man have some balls an say it like it is. What kind of crap do the McKissinger troop think of that. For lack of negotiating language, I can see the sun downer problem has actually checked-into the McKissinger camp. Senile mediocre mushy heads with nothing to offer intelligent Americans but silly talk. Ignorant Dilomacy on the part of Kissinger

    September 27, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Wisest one of All

    hussein nobama is wrong again. Nobody agrees with him except for people who hate the US. Proven fact!

    The racist empty suit can not open his mouth without telling he related to the Clintons???

    September 27, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Mikey

    Looks like Obama was wrong – AGAIN!

    September 27, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. sal

    We are where are because of:

    Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger type thinking.

    Nam was not won be McCain's dad's surge. McCain is another bush trying to live up to Dad.

    Kissinger is back peddling. Grow a spine, Cnn have you on tape. LOL

    Obama biden have won

    Last night proved it. McCain was to fixated on Obama that he could not look at him. His thinking was not clear. At one point, he semed to be having flashes of war. He could not answer the 3am call. All he would think would be obama on the other end.

    I laughed to no end, evertime mcCain would give that same puzzled look and grin.

    September 27, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Young Republican

    If Obama is going to quote someone, he should at least get it right.

    I mean what does he think, his God like mouthpiece is so brilliant that people won't fact check him?

    Check your sources before you spin their words.

    McCain/Palin 08

    September 27, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. M

    We need world peace! Others view Americans as bullies!

    September 27, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Florida Voter

    McPOW could not even look his opponent in the eye. Why would anybody expect him to look the leaders of Iran, North Korea, or Russia for that matter in the eye.

    September 27, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. mikeywins

    I'm not sure who's running–John McCain or John McClane. I keep waiting for him to lose his cool and shout "yippee-cayee, motha--"
    What we have seen in this campaign is a guy who used to be a pretty solid cat, but the world where John McCain's experience comes from just doesn't exist anymore.

    September 27, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. I know Henry Kissinger

    And I can tell you that he is the kind of guy who would say and do something only for money. So, I would imagine that he is saying whatever he is to support McCain because he is getting paid big $$$$ to do so. And all of you and I know that this is how politicians for money work.

    September 27, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Gia in Los Angeles

    It is true, however, that all five of the former Secretaries of State said that the next administration should engage in talks with these countries (Obama's position), and McCain agrees with Bush to not talk to countries that don't agree with the U.S.

    September 27, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Hildegarde Schildgen

    I'll go with Obama any day on sitting down with foreign dignitaries if it will bring peace. we don't need another Iraq in the region. We would never win.

    If anybody is hard headed like bush it is not Obama, it is mccain.
    he has his feet stuck in stone. Old world war does not win now. mccain is 30 years behind the times. He puts too much emphasis on the generals. generals like war, and they only think of their own careers when it comes to war, they don't think anything about the servicemen.

    i think mccain has a sour taste in his mouth when it comes to vietnam, if it was up to him we would still be there. it was his pal kissinger that gave into the discussions on vietnam.

    September 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Advocate4thepl

    Obama seems to be the one presidential candidate that might restore our respectful standing in the world. Last night McCain proved that being a stubborn bully will only alienate you from your allies and cause your enemies to have a valid case against your sense of true "diplomacy." Do we want to really piss of nations that have nuclear war heads by refusing to at least acknowledge that they exist? Wake up Americans!

    September 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. democrat

    Excuse me, but on CNN last week they had a conference where Mr Kissinger was on a stage with other ex -Secretary of States, and he gave me the same impression that Barak picked up. CNN, do you have something on this?

    September 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. rinny

    barry c: sorry to burst your bubble...

    Katie Couric stated:
    The issue of meeting with Iranian officials without preconditions and Henry Kissinger's position on that came up during my recent interview with Governor Sarah Palin. Now, after than interview I called Secretary Kissinger to clarify his position – he said he does support face-to-face talks with high-level officials in Iran without preconditions."

    she called kissinger ask him about his stance on iran and guess what OBAMA WAS RIGHT AND KISSINGER IS NOW COVERING HIS TAIL!

    cnn please post this!

    September 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. Obama & Biden-08

    MacCain shold think tomorrow in twodays angle not viseversa regarding his foregn policy philosophy and experiance.

    September 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. S. Boatman

    You Cant Reach An Agreement With Anyone Without Talking With Them First! Cowboy Diplomacy Does Not Work! You Dont Legitimize What Someone Else Rats Just By Talking With Them!

    September 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Esther

    NEWS FLASH AMERICANS, ISRAEL doesn't need the U.S. too
    hold her hand! She is more than capable of handling her business
    if IRAN wants too play! Unlike your foreign policies when the KNESSET
    gives our boys the go head guess what, we wreck shop period.

    September 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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