Trying as hard as I can to be fair and unbiased (which I will admit is difficult in these turbulent times and for me perhaps especially) General David Petraeus' recent comments at the Heritage Foundation seem to undercut John McCain's paraphrasing of the General's position and seem to lean more toward Barack Obama's offerings.
Asked by a questioner specifically about the disagreement on this topic that McCain and Obama had at Tuesday night's debate, Petraeus demurred a bit, but said: "I do think you have to talk to enemies."
The General continued ""I'm not trying to get into the middle of domestic politics, but I mean what we did do in Iraq ultimately was sit down with some of those that were shooting at us. What we tried to do was identify those who might be reconcilable."
Barack Obama's statements about negotiating with enemies has been a point of contention that John McCain has raised over and over again. Yet General Petraeus credited the recent success in Iraq to the willingness to negotiate with enemies, some “with our blood on their hands.”
While the General was cautious to stay away from expressing a particular endorsement (saying "Oh, I'm not walking into minefields now. I try to go around...." to an audience response of laughter) it was pretty clear that he agreed with the necessity of negotiating with enemies.
"I'm not trying to get into the middle of domestic politics," Petraeus also said, "but I mean what we did do in Iraq ultimately was sit down with some of those that were shooting at us. What we tried to do was identify those who might be reconcilable."
This is not the first time that McCain's position on this subject has come under at least mild criticism from presumed supporters. James Baker, a McCain supporter, said of John McCain's criticism of Barack Obama's willingness to talk to the dictators of Cuba and Iran "talking to an enemy is not in my view appeasement."
The link provided above is the full video. The section most relevant comes at 1:07 approximately. General Petraeus is a gifted speaker and it is well worth watching for yourself in it's entirety.
Let me be clear in summary. There is no ringing endoresement of Obama nor any strident refutation of McCain. But the General clearly knows what John McCain has said and offers a different point of view.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.