Today, Senator Barack Obama is giving a speech laying out his vision for fighting the war on terror, and it seems only right to look at where such a vision may lead, and why his vision should put skeptics at ease. While Senator John McCain may have some bona fides, Obama has the judgment to lead America in an uncertain future.
McCain’s current position on the war on terror in no way reflects on his lifetime of exemplary service to his country. However, judgment matters, and it is clear that he has a decidedly mixed record on that front.
Obama, on the other hand, has character and judgment. In 2002, he courageously gave a speech that denounced the Iraq War for what it was, a serious lapse in judgment. In today’s speech he reiterates this in noting that “ the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. “ He has been consistent in his belief that the United States must responsibly refocus its attention in the war on terror. Instead of being inflexible, Obama has consistently called for steps to carefully extricate us from the war in Iraq without squandering the gains made with the blood, sweat, and tears of American and Iraqi alike, in noting that we “must be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in.”
Ultimately though, the positions on Iraq taken by McCain and Obama, while important, are reflective of differing foreign policy philosophies. McCain puts the idea of strength through primarily force. He shows stubbornness in his approach not only to Iraq, but also Iran. Obama, on the other hand espouses a foreign policy based on collaboration, cooperation, and above all strength.
Obama has shown a determination to lead America in taking real steps to fight the war on terror effectively. He was a leading force working with Rick Lugar on S. 2566, the Lugar-Obama Initiative, and provisions in the eventually passed H.R. 6060, to ensure dangerous weapons, especially nukes, are kept out of the wrong hands. He was the author of a bill, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007, lauded by pro-Israel forces making it easier for state governments to divest from groups doing business in Iran. He proposes talking directly to Iran, to make clear where America stands and what the consequences of continued suspicious activities will elicit.
In the war on terror, there can be no delusions about what must be done, and what the costs of failure lead to. Obama follows in the traditions of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, and JFK in defining a bipartisan foreign policy that seeks consensus and uses strength without being overbearing. If you have the chance, read this article by Eli Lake to see how sharp his national security plans really are. So when you hear what Obama says in today’s speech remember this: when sage judgment was needed, Obama showed he had it. McCain didn’t.