Obama leads on foreign policy

Tue, 08/12/2008 - 3:32pm
By: Letters to the ...

A recent editorial decried Barack Obama as “an empty shirt speaking platitudes” and described the way the media has been ignoring John McCain as nauseating.

In fact, Obama has been setting the campaign agenda and, far from speaking only in platitudes, has been making foreign policy proposals that are being adopted by both the Bush administration and the McCain campaign.

During Obama’s recent and very successful trip to Iraq, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki virtually endorsed Obama’s proposal for setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as part of negotiations over a new security agreement with Washington.

After scoffing at the idea for 18 months after Obama first proposed it, within a week after Obama’s return from Iraq, the Bush administration announced that it had agreed for the first time to set a “general time horizon” for troop withdrawals.

This was followed by McCain endorsing a 16-month timeline in an interview with Chris Matthews. McCain later denied he had used the word “timeline” but, when confronted with the video, admitted it and claimed that any timeline was acceptable taking into consideration the conditions on the ground in Iraq; virtually mirroring Obama’s position.

Obama proposed deploying two additional U.S brigades to Afghanistan in a speech back in July 2007 after the National Intelligence Estimate stated that al Qaeda had regenerated itself and was as strong as it was in 2001.

In spite of Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling for three U.S. brigades to be sent to Afghanistan, John McCain saw no strategic necessity for additional U.S. troops and argued against the idea in his piece in Foreign Affairs magazine last fall and repeated that stance as late as the beginning of July of this year.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced in April that the Bush administration had changed its position and had pledged that new troops would be sent to Afghanistan next year.

But it took an op-ed in the New York Times by Obama in mid-July before McCain suddenly saw the wisdom and necessity of Obama’s proposal and called for deployment of three more U.S. brigades to Afghanistan.

Early last year, Sen. Obama proposed crossing the Pakistan border to attack al Qaeda terrorists hiding in Waziristan. Both the Bush administration and the McCain campaign expressed dismay at Obama’s naivete; until we learned that the administration had adopted and enacted exactly this strategy.

President Bush denounced Obama’s position of using diplomacy and opening talks with rogue states in the harshest of terms during his speech to the Israeli Parliament in May, likening those who would negotiate to appeasers of the Nazis.

The McCain campaign echoed this derision until it was announced last month that Condoleezza Rice would meet with her North Korean counterpart in Singapore and the Bush administration was sending the third ranking State Department official to open talks with the Iranians in Geneva.

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign has produced a series of nonsensical ads wherein McCain denounces the lack of any federal energy policy for the last 30 years while he himself was serving in the Senate for 28 of those years, an ad attacking Obama for not meeting with the troops overseas in which he showed Obama in the ad playing basketball with the troops in Kuwait and a very strange ad from the Republican National Committee making fun of Obama’s warm reception in Germany. They seem distressed at the sight of Europeans waving American flags in support of the U.S.

McCain and his campaign have also been beset by a string of gaffes of their own making. Continually confusing Shias and Sunnis, mistaking “Somalia” for ”Sudan,” referring to the situation on the “Iraq/Pakistan border,” talking of “President Putin of Germany,” and repeatedly reconstituting Czechoslovakia does not inspire confidence.

Neither does whining about the non-equivalency of media coverage when comparing Obama’s Mideast and European tour to McCain’s visits to a German restaurant and a grocery store where he posed for a photo-op with luncheon meat.

The worst (so far) was when Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain’s chief economic adviser, while attempting to explain McCain’s misstatements during a town hall meeting, told reporters that the statements by McCain did not represent the “official” campaign position. McCain apparently does not speak for the McCain campaign.

The campaign is far from over and certainly neither candidate can be confident of winning at this point. However, the lax media coverage of McCain recently, far from being “nauseating” for his supporters, should be seen as a blessing.

Jeff Carter

Peachtree City, Ga.

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Josh's picture
Submitted by Josh on Mon, 08/18/2008 - 6:02pm.

John McCain's photo op was in front of cheese and orange juice. Furthermore, the sign over his head reads “Dairy Delights,” insinuating that one will not find luncheon meat in that section.

Even given the benefit of the doubt since one can find orange juice in the apparently haphazardly named "Dairy Delights" section, try as I might, I could find no reference to turkey slices or even Kraft’s hybrid ham-cheese.


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