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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

Earlier this month, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended talks with all of Iraq's neighbors, specifically including Iran. At his news conference this morning, President Bush said no, and put the idea - not in the context of Iraq but, as part of the ongoing international effort to curb Iraq's - excuse me - Iran's nuclear ambitions.

And that is hardly the only major issue between Washington and Tehran. Iran is the principal sponsor of Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite group that battled Israel in Lebanon this past summer, and the power base of a wider Shia movement that worries America's Sunni allies like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. And Iran competes directly with the U.S. for influence in Iraq, a battle most observers believe Iran is winning.

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has also shown hostility to Israel, most recently as host to an international conference that questioned the facts of the Holocaust. Nevertheless, as former Secretary of State James Baker points out, the United States talked with enemies like the Soviet Union in the past, Iran was helpful in Afghanistan and might be again in Iraq.

Later in the program, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us. If you have questions about the 2008 presidential field (unintelligible), we hardly knew the fertility of Democratic control in the Senate or other political issues. You can send us e-mail now. The address is talk@npr.org.

But first, should we talk with Iran? What's to lose? What's to gain? Our number here in Washington is (800)989-8255, (800)989-TALK. You can also e-mail comments to talk@npr.org.

We begin with historian classicist and columnist, Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. He joins us now from the studios of member station KVPR in Fresno, California. Nice to have you back in the program, Victor.

Mr. VICTOR DAVIS HANSON (Senior Fellow, Hoover Institute): Thank you for having me.

CONAN: You argue that negotiation with Iran, with the strategic and moral mistake, why don't we take those one at a time. Strategic mistake?

Mr. HANSON: Yeah, I think so. I think we would be talking from a perceived weakness. We don't have a good record of asking theocracies or autocracies to help us out when they don't see it, it is in their interest and I know the Iraq Study Group said that it was not in the interest of Iran to see instability in Iraq but actually the opposite is true. What they fear most is a democracy emerging in places like Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

And we don't have a good record with this regime. Remember it was Jimmy Carter who sent Ramsey Clark to sort of appease them to get the hostages back that failed. Realists on the right sent Oliver North to deal with them. Bill Clinton has praised the democracies, liberal and temporal(ph). None of this has worked in the past.

But I think that Jim Baker's model with the Soviet Union is flawed. Iran does not have 7,000 nuclear weapons or 300 divisions that threaten the West. So we had to talk to Soviet Union and we really talked them only when they showed signs of liberalization.

A better model would be probably our relations with Moammar Gadhafi's Libya where we did not talk to them when we ostracized them until they made a gesture of giving up their own WMD. If Iran would do what Gadhafi did, they would probably get the United States to table with them.

CONAN: And a moral mistake. Why would it be a moral mistake?

Mr. HANSON: Well, there's anti-Semitism prevalent in the region but Iran has a special case. We don't really see people, at least at the nation's state level who were hosting an international conference. Not just to deny the facts or question the facts, I think, but rather to deny the existence of the Holocaust. And that's the precursor, an intellectual and spiritual precursor to eliminate Israel.

We haven't had a head of a Middle Eastern regime promised not once, not twice, but seven or eight times to eliminate Israel and then, apparently perceived with the means to do just that. I mean, after all, Iran has about 100 billion barrels of oil in reserve. That would give it, based on its current consumption, about 200 years of energy sufficiency.

And so why would they want to enrich uranium other than to build a weapon, which we know from their rejection of the EU-3 and the U.N., that's what they're trying to do. And unlike other states, they seem to be immune from ideas of deterrence.

It's bad enough that Pakistan, an autocracy, has a bomb, but there's no India next to Iran that's democratic that could offer some type of deterrence. And when a leader says that he speaks at the United Nations and for 30 minutes, nobody can blink their eyes, and he talks about a mystical Imam, you almost get the impression that this man would like to lose 30 million, or so, Iranians to restore Persian Shia supremacy in the annals of Islam by taking out Israel.

So it's a moral mistake to deal with somebody who, at least in tone and temperament, seems to ape the Third Reich worst spokesman.

CONAN: Well, let's bring another voice into the conversation. Robert E. Hunter was U.S. ambassador to NATO from 1993 to 1998. He's now a senior adviser to the RAND Corporation and he's been kind enough to join us here today in studio 3A.

Thanks, Ambassador Hunter, for coming in.

Mr. ROBERT E. HUNTER (RAND Corporation): Thank you for having me.

CONAN: And do you think the United States should engage with Iran at this moment? Why?

Mr. HUNTER: I think we should have been doing it for a long time. It's like climbing Everest, it's because its there. It's because Iran is a major civilization, major country, sits in a very critical part of the world. It is going to be a player unless somehow, we work to eliminate it. And it's better to see if you can engage them to achieve what we want to achieve.

Not to be friendly to them, have a tea party with them, nice to talk. But if we have strategic objectives in the region where talking to Iran might - just might - help us do better than we are today, what's there to lose?

In fact, I believe that we should be talking to people generally in the world. We're one of the few countries in the world that does a kind of a moral calculus before we decide whether to talk to somebody that would be strategically useful to have a dialogue with.

We lost all kind of years when we decided that the communist Chinese were beyond the pale and it took Richard Nixon finally to open discussions with China. And even at that point, they were pouring weapons into Vietnam and killing Americans on a daily basis.

CONAN: So that this argument - what about the moral argument that Victor Davis Hanson mentioned?

Mr. HUNTER: I think President Ahmadinejad has committed one of the great moral crimes of the recent past. Not just a crime of saying this Holocaust didn't exist, but by making his people a target because of it and by cheapening all the efforts of people who are going to try to talk about the problems that Muslims might have, the problems Palestinians might have and the like.

This is something, which is totally reprehensible, totally objectionable. But that doesn't mean there aren't people in Iran or even himself. You hold your nose and you deal with him on things that matter to us if that can help us meet our strategic objectives and yes, save American lives.

It's what we're talking about. How do we save American lives here? Iran helped us in the 1991 war against Iraq. President George H.W. Bush confirmed it. Iran helped us in Afghanistan when we overthrew the Taliban.

Are there things that we can have a common interest with Iran, and Iraq, and elsewhere? I don't know. But you don't find that out unless you sit down and talk to them.

CONAN: Victor Davis Hanson, people have pointed that out that after the fall of the Taliban, I mean, even during the fall of the Taliban, Iran was helpful when it saw itself as a - where, you know, when it saw itself - it's in its interest to help the United States?

Mr. VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: It was tangential. It wasn't helpful. It allowed people, after all, we've have reports that Osama bin Laden's own son was in Iran. And the same thing in the '91 Gulf War to the extent that it can play one side off against the other. It practices real politick like any of the other nations.

But it's never - that theocracy has never had any of the interest of the United States at heart at all. And we're going to legitimatize - we're going to give legitimacy to someone who's a horrific character. And there's ways of dealing with Iran without talking at the official level to them.

We can encourage Shia democracy in Iraq that will send a strong message. We can talk and engage with dissidents in Iran who are risking their lives. The people who shouted at Mr. Ahmadinejad the other day are probably going to be haunted down by his gangs and goons. But we can make it clear to the world that we support those people.

We can try to make sure that Afghanistan and Lebanon and Iraq stabilize without the help of Iran so that reformers are confident that they don't have to make concessions to that theocracy. And we can talk to the Gulf sheikhdoms(ph) to be careful.

I mean, this idea that you talk just to talk reminds me of Stanley Baldwin's quip that if we - anybody had just talked to Hitler after 1939, they could have stopped the invasion of France.

Mr. HUNTER: I didn't say talk just talk. I said talk to achieve what we want. Incidentally, we're the only people who are not talking to the Iranians. And it's true. They're not going to do things because they like us. They're going to do things because it advances their interest. If we can find some common ground, maybe that will help. And incidentally we have kind of a -

Mr. HANSON: What are their interests?

Mr. HUNTER: What are their interests? Their interests -

Mr. HANSON: Their interests are to overthrow the democracy in Iraq, to overthrow(ph) the democracy in Afghanistan, to overthrow the democracy in Lebanon, to get a nuclear weapons to hold the sheikhdoms hostage about oil pricing and to threaten, if not eliminate Israel. I don't see how any of those things that dovetail with any of our interest.

Mr. HUNTER: What is it that we want to achieve? We want to keep Iran from getting the bomb. We want to stop them from supporting terrorism and we like some other things to.

I mean, this nonsense about the Holocaust in Israel, we'd like them to get off this craziness. One reason incidentally, Ahmadinejad does this because it provokes such an international reaction and isolates his enemies. He learned something from Fidel Castro on that.

Every time we've tried to get along with Fidel Castro, he's done something outrageous like invade Angola. Ahmadinejad is not crazy. He knows that this is a way of getting people to respond in that way. The fact is that he's making his country vulnerable. Now, how to - what's the best way to stop them from moving in the particular directions we don't want?

One would be to offer some kind of trade. You know, we have seen the negotiations now with three European states and the head of the European Council with the Iranians for the last three years.

But one thing we have never been willing to allow them to talk about is the possibility of Iranian security. I have been hearing people surrounded by an awful lot of bad customers, just as we see them as a bad customer. We won't even consider the idea of maybe their security. We won't even consider the idea of maybe lifting sanctions if they behave. If they behave.

And as a result, Ahmadinejad and the other people around there are laughing all the way to the political bank, as the people who want to deal with us are totally undercut. That's the real world -

Mr. HANSON: Their security is enhanced when the Taliban are gone and there's a Karzai government. Their security is enhanced when - if the democracy emerges in Iraq. Their security is enhanced if Lebanon's democratic, unless that's not on in their interest to be peaceful and they want to be aggressive and create a Shia protectorate.

But the way it is now, the United States by de facto supporting consensual governments and constitutional forms of government in the region has helped Iran immensely. That's not what they want.

CONAN: We're going to have to take a short break. When we come back, listeners will be invited to join the conversation. We're talking with Victor Davis Hanson and Robert Hunter. Should we talk with Iran? (800)989-8255. E-mail, talk@npr.org.

I'm Neal Conan, back after the break. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

We're discussing the proposal by the Iraq Study Group that the United States should work with Iran to find a solution to the violence in Iraq. President Bush says no to the idea.

Speaking in Dubai today, Tony Blair, British prime minister, accused elements of Iran's government of openly supporting terrorism in Iraq. He called Iran's meddling there and around the Middle East, deadly serious. So should the U.S. talk with Iran and if so, how?

Our guests are Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Robert E. Hunter, senior adviser to the RAND Corporation, former U.S. ambassador to NATO.

And, of course, you're welcome to join us. (800)-989-8255, (800)989-talk. E-mail is talk@npr.org .

And why don't we begin with Peter, Peter calling us from Berkeley.

PETER (Caller): Hi. Thanks for this opportunity.

CONAN: Sure.

PETER: I think the solution is don't let's just talk to the top but talk to the base of the pyramid in Iran, mediated talks that are open and public, preferably on television, and preferably, including the whole wide world. The problem of Iran is part of the problem of the whole world. We need truly represented democracies everywhere and we need it at the global level.

And I think isolation is actually an alienation or the breeding ground of evil. And coming together as a body, as the whole world, is a breeding ground of good. In fact, that idea is in the root word of good. So you know, Khatami, the former president of Iran gave that fabulous talk at Harvard where he said this double standard has to be eliminated.

And your first guest made this point about well we had to talk to the Soviets because they had 6,000 nuclear weapons. Well, that wasn't true for seven years, prior to the talks that occurred between Gorbachev and Reagan. There had been a duress(ph) of some of that meetings for seven long years.

CONAN: Yes, Peter, you're talking about the public negotiations not normally the avenue for diplomacy.

PETER: Well, that's the point. We need new solutions. And we need to involve the people, the whole body of intelligence so the people at Iran, not just the, you know, barely elected leaders sometimes. I mean -

CONAN: Well, let's get a response from Robert Hunter.

PETER: Great.

Mr. HUNTER: Well, we already have public negotiations. Ahmadinejad has said things about the Holocaust - negative. He's written two letters to President Bush, both of which said let's talk. That's a positive.

CONAN: One to President Bush, one to the American people.

Mr. HUNTER: And one to the American people, you're right. We didn't respond to things that are coming back. What Tony Blair said that you just mentioned, what the president said. This is part of an open negotiation. What we really need is exactly what the, what the speaker said. For us to present what our requirements are, real requirements, not the I-would-wish-this.

Your person - the other caller is talking about, as though somehow if it weren't for Iran, there would be a democracy as successful in Iraq. That's nonsense. One reason why we want to talk to Iran is because we are failing in Iraq. And we'd be failing even if Iran didn't exist.

So let's present it in the outside. I did what President Bush have done when Ahmadinejad had written to him. It's him write him an 18-letter - an 18-page letter back, and state our case. And say fine, let's have a discussion. Let's have it in the middle of Times Square, so to speak. Let's have in the open.

Among other things what that does is that helps to validate for the people of Iran who really do want a different relationships to the outside world, validates for them -

Mr. HANSON: With all due respect, they know that we have sympathy and empathy for the popular culture transmits that everyday. What the problem is not that we don't to talk to the people of Iran, we do.

But they're not allowed to express their opinion and we see that with press conferences. They're silenced. They're jailed everyday. What we need to do is to, as your first caller said, to express our desire to talk to the people and to pressure the regime in Iran to allow the people to express themselves which they can't do.

Remember, this is a regime that's turned upside down the entire notion of Israel. After the Holocaust, it was supposed to be a refuge for the world's (unintelligible). Then this man comes along 60 years after the Holocaust and says this is a one-bomb state. In other words, this is place where they're all put together and we can get rid of them in one fell swoop.

And the idea that we're going to sit down with this man who does not allow any in dissent within his own country, and we're going to legitimize him is absolutely callous and absurd.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in. This is Bill, Bill with us from Briggs, excuse me, Driggs, Idaho.

BILL (Caller): Hi. Well, I still don't understand the - I'd like to ask the gentlemen, what benefit the United States gets from not talking to Iran or Syria or North Korea or any of these people that we disagree with?

It doesn't seem to me that you get anything from not talking. You can't lose anything by talking and this idea that us talking to them legitimizes them somehow. They are already legitimized. They're there. They're in charge. I just don't understand the concepts here. And I'd sure like to-

Mr. HANSON: Well, it's an old diplomatic concept. There's an old diplomatic concept. There was a point where Churchill told his ministers, there's not going to be any more talks with Hitler. And that's the concept that a state doesn't get a free pass to do and say what it wants and expect normal diplomatic relations. That's what diplomatic pressure is used for.

And it also assumes that we're not talking in back channels. Every state talks in vicarious ways to another state. They know that. There's ways of communicating with Iran through third parties. And we've been communicating with Iran vis-à-vis the EU-3 and the U.N., non-proliferation efforts. We're talking about as a formal, head-to-head negotiations. What's all it would do is enhance Mr. Ahmadinejad's position vis-à-vis his own domestic constituencies.

CONAN: Robert Hunter?

Mr. HUNTER: Well, I think if you looked around the Middle East and this is a tragic thing I'm saying. Mr. Ahmadinejad is either the first or second most popular person around the Middle East, in part, because he's been standing up to precisely the kind of thing the other caller is talking about. You know, one of the things that you want to appeal to the average Iranian is you've got to show respect for that culture.

You don't call a country part of an axis of evil. You don't say you have no right to high technology. You don't say you have no right to security. If I wanted to design a policy to help support Mr. Ahmadinejad in power, I'd do exactly what we're doing today. Your caller - your caller on the line now is exactly right if you want to serve American interests.

CONAN: At his news conference today, President Bush spoke - I have to say very respectfully of the Iranian people and the Iranian culture, very disrespectfully of the Iranian government. But what he appeared to be holding out, Robert Hunter, is this idea that look, you're isolated, you're out of step with history, and if we talk to you now, you know, that's the threat. That's what the card he's trying to hold over the Iranian government. Your people will continue to be isolated unless you come across and talk to us and he put it in the context to the nuclear weapons talks.

Mr. HUNTER: Did he say unless you come across and talk to us? We haven't been willing to talk to them.

Mr. HANSON: That's exactly what he said. He said that they can even do it under the auspices of the EU-3 and they can do it with the U.N. All they have to do is just say that we do not want to violate international standards of non-proliferation.

Mr. HUNTER: Delighted to hear that. Delighted that the president said that.

Mr. HANSON: He's said that all along.

Mr. HUNTER: Now -

Mr. HANSON: All he's doing is extending the same policy we did to Moammar Gadhafi and Gadhafi -

CONAN: And let's let Ambassador Hunter respond.

Mr. HUNTER: We offered to join the talks by the Europeans. But then we put it on a poison pill that the Iranians have to stop enrichment before the talks start, rather than as the first item on the agenda and something to be achieved in a matter of weeks, which is the Iranian position. I'm not arguing that position. I'm just saying we have missed opportunity after opportunity to try to find out if Iran will do things to help save American lives. That's what it's all about.

Now, if you're an average Iranian and you see Pakistan with a bomb, America with troops next door, America threatening under some circumstances to attack your country, calling you an axis of evil, saying you have no right to hide technology, the average Iranian is going to say maybe this thug, Ahmadinejad, is not so bad after all. We have done everything possible to reinforce human power rather than doing those things, which would undercut him.

Mr. HANSON: You know, I think the average Iranian, with all due respect, is probably thinking why in the world are our hard $1s when the economy is in shambles. Why are they going to places like Hezbollah to start a war with Israel? Why are we buying North Korean missiles and threaten to destroy Israel? Why are we trying to send our youth or our weapons in to destroy people in Iraq that are trying to create a democracy? Why are we trying to shelter terrorists who come from Afghanistan and have been in collusion with the Taliban, of all people, whom we don't like? That's what a lot of people in Iran right now are asking themselves. In fact, of all the countries, the United States -

Mr. HUNTER: That is not nonsense.

Mr. HANSON: No, it is true because the Iranian people -

Mr. HUNTER: When we were -

CONAN: All right. I have to start interrupting you. Go ahead, Victor.

Mr. HANSON: I was just - by all accounts, the United States is not unpopular among the youth of Iran. We're not unpopular because they realize that we stand for principles that their own government does not do. And that it is true that the more autocracies don't like us, the more their constituency seem to admire us.

The Libyan people like us precisely because we were firm with Gadhafi and brought concessions for them by not giving in and not legitimizing that regime. We can do the same model with Iran. All they have to do is do what Gadhafi did. Just come clean on the nuclear proliferation and we'll normalize relations and the people will appreciate us.

If we sit down with this man after what he's done, we will lose all of our support within Iran. It doesn't mean that we have to call them an axis of evil, or it doesn't mean that we have to be provocative. We can do exactly what we're doing: encourage the U.N., encourage the EU-3, do not pursue loud rhetoric -but just don't talk with these people, this particular time, until they agree to meet just minimum requirements of non-proliferation.

CONAN: And Robert Hunter, we'll give you the last word.

Mr. HUNTER: I think if we were to go to the Europeans and say, you can tell the Iranians - if they are squeaky clean on the nuclears, total inspection, they get out of the terror business - we, the United States, we authorize you to say this: you can tell Iranians we'll give security guarantees, the United States won't attack you. Many Iranians think you're getting ready for an attack.

And we will lift sanctions,, at which point Ahmadinejad loses his base. If we'd be prepared to do that, I don't care whether we talk to them or not. But we have steadfastly refused to do that. And if you're an Iranian, you look at that and you say, here come the American bombs, not here comes American democracy.

CONAN: Former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Robert E. Hunter with us here in Studio 3A. Thanks very much for being with us today.

Mr. HUNTER: Thank you.

CONAN: And Ambassador Hunter is currently a senior advisor to the Rand Corporation. Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, who wrote “Just Smile at Iran and Wait, Don't Talk” is one of his recent columns. Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. HANSON: Thank you for having me, Neal.

CONAN: Victor Davis Hanson joined us from the studios of KBPR in Fresno, California and we thank him for his time today.

But there are also practical issues if we're going to have conversations with Iran. How do you negotiate with an enemy? Joining us now is Joe McMillan, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. He's with us here in Studio 3A. Thanks very much.

Mr. JOE MCMILLAN (National Defense University): Thank you, Neal. Nice to be here.

CONAN: And the problems of negotiating with enemies, indeed countries that the United States has been at war with, these are not new.

Mr. MCMILLAN: No they're not. We've had negotiations that we've conducted in the midst of wars, going back to the earliest days of our country. We negotiated with the Barbary pirates, even as we were conducted naval operations against them. And one of the best cases is when negotiations we conducted in 1814 to resolve the War of 1812 with Britain, which went on for about six months.

During that six months, we had Washington, D.C. burned, we had the battle of Fort McHenry that led to our national anthem, we had the battle of Lake Champlain, one of the great naval victories in the history of the United States Navy. All of it has taken place…

CONAN: That's like the battle of New Orleans.

Mr. MCMILLAN: Battle of New Orleans came a little bit afterwards, but it was in train as the negotiations were going on.

CONAN: Yet the world has changed a great deal since 1814.

Mr. MCMILLAN: The world has changed a great deal and the nature of things particular set of negotiations is of course quite different as well. We're not at war with Iran the way that we were at war with Great Britain at the time. And the conflict in Iraq is clearly a much more complicated affair than our two-way war that we were conducting with the British - although we do have to keep in mind that, from the British perspective, the British in some ways were in same seat that we we're in now. They were conducting conflict with a number of other countries in a much wider environment, and we were the ones that were only dealing with one adversary.

CONAN: Bilaterally.

We're talking about the prospect of talks with Iran and you're listening TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And again, our guest is Joe McMillan, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. You've pointed out a number of principles that ought to apply in these circumstances. One of which is fighting and talking are two sides of the same coin, which is sort of the reverse of Clausewitz's famous edict, that the - war is the extension of politics by other means.

Mr. MCMILLAN: Exactly. And when you're conducting negotiations with someone you're fighting with, negotiations are an extension of war by other means. It's exactly right. We tend to think of war and diplomacy as two different sort of polar opposites. And we put that into effect a lot of times by taking an approach that says we won't start talking until there's a cease-fire. We see a cease-fire in a conflict as a precondition to start a negotiation.

What we have to remember as we go into a negotiation, is that the cease-fire favors the side that's losing, because it gives the side that's losing an opportunity to regroup, to restructure, and rebuild. Repeatedly we've had cases - in Korea, for example - where there were times that we were winning, and as a precondition to start serious negotiations, we've been the one insisting on a cease-fire.

So when I say that there are two different sides of the same coin, the military - to do wartime negotiations effectively, you need to set up a dynamic, that the other side thinks that you could achieve, militarily, all of the things and more that you're trying to get at the bargaining table, so that he believes that the best deal he's going to get is at the bargaining table.

CONAN: Keep expectations realistic, you say?

Mr. MCMILLAN: Keep expectations realistic. Don't expect that you're going to achieve much more at the bargaining table than you can achieve on the battlefield. The example that I think is very telling, again, goes back to the Ghent negotiations.

The British came into the negotiations with the United States wanting us to give up most of the Midwest, return the Louisiana Purchase to Spain, give up a slice of northern Maine, forfeit any right to fortify the Great Lakes - a long strain of demands that bore no relationship to what British forces had accomplished at that point of the war.

Now the British had in mind, to campaign that was going to lead them to a path where they expected that this would be, it would look like an attractive settlement to the United States. But in fact, they lost on the battlefield. They lost at Lake Champlain, they lost in Baltimore, and suddenly there was no way they could achieve those objectives - but they stuck to them; this very unrealistic expectation, for several months after it was clear that that simply wasn't going to come to pass, and finally had to settle for very minimalist return to the status quo before the war.

CONAN: In recent American history, though, it's not been negotiation - we have just a few seconds left - it's been unconditional surrender, that has been the traditional American negotiating tactic?

Mr. MCMILLAN: Well, that was a negotiating tactic, obviously, in World War II, and to a certain extent, in the first Gulf War, in 1991.

CONAN: Civil War too.

Mr. MCMILLAN: And in the Civil War as well. But it was not, for instance, the line that we took in Korea, it was not the line we took in Vietnam, and has not been the line that we've taken in a number of somewhat more minor conflicts that we've been involved in over the year that tend to be overshadowed when we look at them against the backdrop of the great conflicts.

CONAN: Another of Joe McMillan's ideas, is patience. Unfortunately, we have no time for them. We're out of time. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Mr. MCMILLAN: Yes.

CONAN: We appreciate it. When we come back, the Political Junkie.

This is TALK OF THE NATION.

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