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04/03/2008

John McCain

Note: Slight change in the schedule. I felt that Sen. John
McCain’s recent foreign policy speech to the Los Angeles World
Affairs Council, March 26, was important.

---

John McCain

When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house
in New London, Connecticut, and a Navy officer rolled down the
window and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed
Pearl Harbor. My father immediately left for the submarine base
where he was stationed. I rarely saw him again for four years.
My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force
under Admiral Halsey, came home from the war exhausted from
the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam,
where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those
friends never came home to the country they loved so well. I
detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human
beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations
seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million
tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation’s finest patriots are
sacrificed. Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is
disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by
years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of
war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is
fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war.
Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers
most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless
reality of war. However heady the appeal of a call to arms,
however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is
lost when war claims its wages from us.

I am an idealist, and I believe it is possible in our time to make
the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where
our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and
American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of
free people and free markets, advance even farther than they
have. But I am, from hard experience and the judgment it
informs, a realist idealist. I know we must work very hard and
very creatively to build new foundations for a stable and
enduring peace. We cannot wish the world to be a better place
than it is. We have enemies for whom no attack is too cruel, and
no innocent life safe, and who would, if they could, strike us with
the world’s most terrible weapons. There are states that support
them, and which might help them acquire those weapons because
they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West,
and will not be placated by fresh appeals to the better angels of
their nature. This is the central threat of our time, and we must
understand the implications of our decisions on all manner of
regional and global challenges could have for our success in
defeating it.

President Harry Truman once said of America, “God has created
us and brought us to our present position of power and strength
for some great purpose.” In his time, that purpose was to contain
Communism and build the structures of peace and prosperity that
could provide safe passage through the Cold War. Now it is our
turn. We face a new set of opportunities, and also new dangers.
The developments of science and technology have brought us
untold prosperity, eradicated disease, and reduced the suffering
of millions. We have a chance in our lifetime to raise the world
to a new standard of human existence. Yet these same
technologies have produced grave new risks, arming a few
zealots with the ability to murder millions of innocents, and
producing a global industrialization that can in time threaten our
planet.

To meet this challenge requires understanding the world we live
in, and the central role the United States must play in shaping it
for the future. The United States must lead in the 21st century,
just as in Truman’s day. But leadership today means something
different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe
and the other democracies were still recovering from the
devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic
superpower. Today we are not alone. There is the powerful
collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great
nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea
and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the
leading democracies. There are also the increasingly powerful
nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the
international system.

In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and
evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its
power alone. We must be strong politically, economically, and
militarily. But we must also lead by attracting others to our
cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and
democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized
society and by creating the new international institutions
necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish.
Perhaps above all, leadership in today’s world means accepting
and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation.

One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to
our fellow democracies. We cannot build an enduring peace
based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to. We have
to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global
compact – a League of Democracies – that can harness the vast
influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations
around the world to advance our values and defend our shared
interests.

At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and
trust. Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of
Independence, that we pay “decent respect to the opinions of
mankind.” Our great power does not mean we can do whatever
we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all
the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to
listen to the views and respect the collective will of our
democratic allies. When we believe international action is
necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try
to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must
be willing to be persuaded by them.

America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us
as a model. How we behave at home affects how we are
perceived abroad. We must fight the terrorists and at the same
time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society. We
can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have
captured. I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with
our allies to forge a new international understanding on the
disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.

There is such a thing as international good citizenship. We need
to be good stewards of our planet and join with other nations to
help preserve our common home. The risks of global warming
have no borders. We and the other nations of the world must get
serious about substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in
the coming years or we will hand off a much-diminished world
to our grandchildren. We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty,
a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental
impact in an economically responsible manner. We Americans
must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest
of the world, including most importantly, the developing
economic powerhouses of China and India.

Four and a half decades ago, John Kennedy described the people
of Latin America as our “firm and ancient friends, united by
history and experience and by our determination to advance the
values of American civilization.” With globalization, our
hemisphere has grown closer, more integrated, and more
interdependent. Latin America today is increasingly vital to the
fortunes of the United States. Americans north and south share a
common geography and a common destiny. The countries of
Latin America are the natural partners of the United States, and
our northern neighbor Canada.

Relations with our southern neighbors must be governed by
mutual respect, not by an imperial impulse or by anti-American
demagoguery. The promise of North, Central, and South
American life is too great for that. I believe the Americas can
and must be the model for a new 21st century relationship
between North and South. Ours can be the first completely
democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders,
where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the
security and prosperity of all.

Power in the world today is moving east; the Asia-Pacific region
is on the rise. Together with our democratic partner of many
decades, Japan, we can grasp the opportunities present in the
unfolding world and this century can become safe – both
American and Asian, both prosperous and free. Asia has made
enormous strides in recent decades. Its economic achievements
are well known; less known is that more people live under
democratic rule in Asia than in any other region of the world.

Dealing with a rising China will be a central challenge for the
next American president. Recent prosperity in China has
brought more people out of poverty faster than during any other
time in human history. China’s newfound power implies
responsibilities. China could bolster its claim that it is
“peacefully rising” by being more transparent about its
significant military buildup, by working with the world to isolate
pariah states such as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe, and by
ceasing its efforts to establish regional forums and economic
arrangements designed to exclude America from Asia.

China and the United States are not destined to be adversaries.
We have numerous overlapping interests and hope to see our
relationship evolve in a manner that benefits both countries and,
in turn, the Asia-Pacific region and the world. But until China
moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be
based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of
shared values.

The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the
transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the
world. The bonds we share with Europe in terms of history,
values, and interests are unique. Americans should welcome the
rise of a strong, confident European Union as we continue to
support a strong NATO. The future of the transatlantic
relationship lies in confronting the challenges of the 21st century
worldwide: developing a common energy policy, creating a
transatlantic common market tying our economies more closely
together, addressing the dangers posed by a revanchist Russia,
and institutionalizing our cooperation on issues such as climate
change, foreign assistance, and democracy promotion.

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight
highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading
market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but
exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia’s nuclear blackmail
or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the
solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is
indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all
democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

While Africa’s problems – poverty, corruption, disease, and
instability – are well known, we must refocus on the bright
promise offered by many countries on that continent. We must
strongly engage on a political, economic, and security level with
friendly governments across Africa, but insist on improvements
in transparency and the rule of law. Many African nations will
not reach their true potential without external assistance to
combat entrenched problems, such as HIV/AIDS, that afflict
Africans disproportionately. I will establish the goal of
eradicating malaria on the continent – the number one killer of
African children under the age of five. In addition to saving
millions of lives in the world’s poorest regions, such a campaign
would do much to add luster to America’s image in the world.

We also share an obligation with the world’s other great powers
to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The
United States and the international community must work
together and do all in our power to contain and reverse North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran – a nation
whose President has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel
from the face of the earth – from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
We should work to reduce nuclear arsenals all around the world,
starting with our own. Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear
powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward
nuclear disarmament. The time has come to renew that
commitment. We do not need all the weapons currently in our
arsenal. The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear
disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of
peace.

If we are successful in pulling together a global coalition for
peace and freedom – if we lead by shouldering our international
responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future
for humanity, I believe we will gain tangible benefits as a nation.

It will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our
time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. This challenge is
transcendent not because it is the only one we face. There are
many dangers in today’s world, and our foreign policy must be
agile and effective at dealing with all of them. But the threat
posed by the terrorists is unique. They alone devote all their
energies and indeed their very lives to murdering innocent men,
women, and children. They alone seek nuclear weapons and
other tools of mass destruction not to defend themselves or to
enhance their prestige or to give them a stronger hand in world
affairs but to use against us wherever and whenever they can.
Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all
others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she
does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a
president has – to protect the lives of the American people.

We learned through the tragic experience of September 11 that
passive defense alone cannot protect us. We must protect our
borders. But we must also have an aggressive strategy of
confronting and rooting out the terrorists wherever they seek to
operate, and deny them bases in failed or failing states. Today al
Qaeda and other terrorist networks operate across the globe,
seeking out opportunities in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa,
and in the Middle East.

Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military
force. It will require the use of all elements of our national
power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law
enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and
robust intelligence capabilities. I have called for major changes
in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic
extremism by much greater resources for and integration of
civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict
challenges. Our goal must be to win the “hearts and minds” of
the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their
future controlled by a minority of violent extremists. In this
struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart
bombs.

We also need to build the international structures for a durable
peace in which the radical extremists are gradually eclipsed by
the more powerful forces of freedom and tolerance. Our efforts
in Iraq and Afghanistan are critical in this respect and cannot be
viewed in isolation from our broader strategy. In the troubled
and often dangerous region they occupy, these two nations can
either be sources of extremism and instability or they can in time
become pillars of stability, tolerance, and democracy.

For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of
relying on autocrats to provide order and stability. We relied on
the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of
Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam
Hussein. In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel. The
Shah was overthrown by the radical Islamic revolution that now
rules in Tehran. The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world
produced increasing instability. The autocrats clamped down
with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding
Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not
become its victims. It was a toxic and explosive mixture. The
oppression of the autocrats blended with the radical Islamists’
dogmatic theology to produce a perfect storm of intolerance and
hatred.

We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-
dated autocracies is the safest bet. They no longer provide
lasting stability, only the illusion of it. We must not act rashly or
demand change overnight. But neither can we pretend the status
quo is sustainable, stable, or in our interests. Change is
occurring whether we want it or not. The only question for us is
whether we shape this change in ways that benefit humanity or
let our enemies seize it for their hateful purposes. We must help
expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many
strengths as a free people. This is not just idealism. It is the
truest kind of realism. It is the democracies of the world that will
provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an
enduring peace.

If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East
through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to
Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching
across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and
Indonesia. Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region.
And whether they eventually become stable democracies
themselves, or are allowed to sink back into chaos and
extremism, will determine not only the fate of that critical part of
the world, but our fate, as well. That is the broad strategic
perspective through which to view our efforts in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Many people ask, how should we define success?
Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful,
stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to
neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists. It is the
triumph of religious tolerance over violent radicalism.

Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are
wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared
the war in Iraq already lost. Since June 2007 sectarian and ethnic
violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90 percent. Overall civilian
deaths have been reduced by more than 70 percent. Deaths of
coalition forces have fallen by 70 percent. The dramatic
reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to
something approaching normal political and economic life for
the average Iraqi. People are going back to work. Markets are
open. Oil revenues are climbing. Inflation is down. Iraq’s
economy is expected to grown by roughly 7 percent in 2008.
Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and
provincial grassroots level. Sunni and Shia chased from their
homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning. Political
progress at the national level has been far too slow, but there is
progress.

Critics say that the “surge” of troops isn’t a solution in itself, that
we must make progress towards Iraqi self-sufficiency. I agree.
Iraqis themselves must increasingly take responsibility for their
own security, and they must become responsible political actors.
It does not follow from this, however, that we should now
recklessly retreat from Iraq regardless of the consequences. We
must take the course of prudence and responsibility, and help
Iraqis move closer to the day when they no longer need our help.

That is the route of responsible statesmanship. We have incurred
a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act
of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were
to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the
horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that
would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature
withdrawal. Our critics say America needs to repair its image in
the world. How can they argue at the same time for the morally
reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?

Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight
al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous
mistake. Whether they were there before is immaterial, al Qaeda
is in Iraq now, as it is in the borderlands between Pakistan and
Afghanistan, in Somalia, and in Indonesia. If we withdraw
prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim
victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while
they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, as
various factions of Sunni and Shia have yet to move beyond their
ancient hatreds, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda. Civil
war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize
the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their
favored factions. I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal
would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our
values. Iran will also view our premature withdrawal as a
victory, and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country
with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of
Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow
significantly. These consequences of our defeat would threaten
us for years, and those who argue for it, as both Democratic
candidates do, are arguing for a course that would eventually
draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far
greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. I do
not argue against withdrawal, any more than I argued several
years ago for the change in tactics and additional forces that are
now succeeding in Iraq, because I am somehow indifferent to
war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families.
I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and
very personally how grievous its wages are. But I know, too,
that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even
higher ones later.

I run for President because I want to keep the country I love and
have served all my life safe, and to rise to the challenges of our
times, as generations before us rose to theirs. I run for President
because I know it is incumbent on America, more than any other
nation on earth, to lead in building the foundations for a stable
and enduring peace, a peace built on the strength of our
commitment to it, on the transformative ideals on which we were
founded, on our ability to see around the corner of history, and
on our courage and wisdom to make hard choices. I run because
I believe, as strongly as I ever have, that it is within our power to
make in our time another, better world than we inherited.

---

Hot Spots returns April 17.

Brian Trumbore


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-04/03/2008-      
Web Epoch NJ Web Design  |  (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.

Hot Spots

04/03/2008

John McCain

Note: Slight change in the schedule. I felt that Sen. John
McCain’s recent foreign policy speech to the Los Angeles World
Affairs Council, March 26, was important.

---

John McCain

When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house
in New London, Connecticut, and a Navy officer rolled down the
window and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed
Pearl Harbor. My father immediately left for the submarine base
where he was stationed. I rarely saw him again for four years.
My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force
under Admiral Halsey, came home from the war exhausted from
the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam,
where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those
friends never came home to the country they loved so well. I
detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human
beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations
seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million
tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation’s finest patriots are
sacrificed. Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is
disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by
years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of
war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is
fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war.
Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers
most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless
reality of war. However heady the appeal of a call to arms,
however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is
lost when war claims its wages from us.

I am an idealist, and I believe it is possible in our time to make
the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where
our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and
American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of
free people and free markets, advance even farther than they
have. But I am, from hard experience and the judgment it
informs, a realist idealist. I know we must work very hard and
very creatively to build new foundations for a stable and
enduring peace. We cannot wish the world to be a better place
than it is. We have enemies for whom no attack is too cruel, and
no innocent life safe, and who would, if they could, strike us with
the world’s most terrible weapons. There are states that support
them, and which might help them acquire those weapons because
they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West,
and will not be placated by fresh appeals to the better angels of
their nature. This is the central threat of our time, and we must
understand the implications of our decisions on all manner of
regional and global challenges could have for our success in
defeating it.

President Harry Truman once said of America, “God has created
us and brought us to our present position of power and strength
for some great purpose.” In his time, that purpose was to contain
Communism and build the structures of peace and prosperity that
could provide safe passage through the Cold War. Now it is our
turn. We face a new set of opportunities, and also new dangers.
The developments of science and technology have brought us
untold prosperity, eradicated disease, and reduced the suffering
of millions. We have a chance in our lifetime to raise the world
to a new standard of human existence. Yet these same
technologies have produced grave new risks, arming a few
zealots with the ability to murder millions of innocents, and
producing a global industrialization that can in time threaten our
planet.

To meet this challenge requires understanding the world we live
in, and the central role the United States must play in shaping it
for the future. The United States must lead in the 21st century,
just as in Truman’s day. But leadership today means something
different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe
and the other democracies were still recovering from the
devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic
superpower. Today we are not alone. There is the powerful
collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great
nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea
and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the
leading democracies. There are also the increasingly powerful
nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the
international system.

In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and
evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its
power alone. We must be strong politically, economically, and
militarily. But we must also lead by attracting others to our
cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and
democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized
society and by creating the new international institutions
necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish.
Perhaps above all, leadership in today’s world means accepting
and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation.

One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to
our fellow democracies. We cannot build an enduring peace
based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to. We have
to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global
compact – a League of Democracies – that can harness the vast
influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations
around the world to advance our values and defend our shared
interests.

At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and
trust. Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of
Independence, that we pay “decent respect to the opinions of
mankind.” Our great power does not mean we can do whatever
we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all
the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to
listen to the views and respect the collective will of our
democratic allies. When we believe international action is
necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try
to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must
be willing to be persuaded by them.

America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us
as a model. How we behave at home affects how we are
perceived abroad. We must fight the terrorists and at the same
time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society. We
can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have
captured. I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with
our allies to forge a new international understanding on the
disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.

There is such a thing as international good citizenship. We need
to be good stewards of our planet and join with other nations to
help preserve our common home. The risks of global warming
have no borders. We and the other nations of the world must get
serious about substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in
the coming years or we will hand off a much-diminished world
to our grandchildren. We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty,
a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental
impact in an economically responsible manner. We Americans
must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest
of the world, including most importantly, the developing
economic powerhouses of China and India.

Four and a half decades ago, John Kennedy described the people
of Latin America as our “firm and ancient friends, united by
history and experience and by our determination to advance the
values of American civilization.” With globalization, our
hemisphere has grown closer, more integrated, and more
interdependent. Latin America today is increasingly vital to the
fortunes of the United States. Americans north and south share a
common geography and a common destiny. The countries of
Latin America are the natural partners of the United States, and
our northern neighbor Canada.

Relations with our southern neighbors must be governed by
mutual respect, not by an imperial impulse or by anti-American
demagoguery. The promise of North, Central, and South
American life is too great for that. I believe the Americas can
and must be the model for a new 21st century relationship
between North and South. Ours can be the first completely
democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders,
where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the
security and prosperity of all.

Power in the world today is moving east; the Asia-Pacific region
is on the rise. Together with our democratic partner of many
decades, Japan, we can grasp the opportunities present in the
unfolding world and this century can become safe – both
American and Asian, both prosperous and free. Asia has made
enormous strides in recent decades. Its economic achievements
are well known; less known is that more people live under
democratic rule in Asia than in any other region of the world.

Dealing with a rising China will be a central challenge for the
next American president. Recent prosperity in China has
brought more people out of poverty faster than during any other
time in human history. China’s newfound power implies
responsibilities. China could bolster its claim that it is
“peacefully rising” by being more transparent about its
significant military buildup, by working with the world to isolate
pariah states such as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe, and by
ceasing its efforts to establish regional forums and economic
arrangements designed to exclude America from Asia.

China and the United States are not destined to be adversaries.
We have numerous overlapping interests and hope to see our
relationship evolve in a manner that benefits both countries and,
in turn, the Asia-Pacific region and the world. But until China
moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be
based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of
shared values.

The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the
transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the
world. The bonds we share with Europe in terms of history,
values, and interests are unique. Americans should welcome the
rise of a strong, confident European Union as we continue to
support a strong NATO. The future of the transatlantic
relationship lies in confronting the challenges of the 21st century
worldwide: developing a common energy policy, creating a
transatlantic common market tying our economies more closely
together, addressing the dangers posed by a revanchist Russia,
and institutionalizing our cooperation on issues such as climate
change, foreign assistance, and democracy promotion.

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight
highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading
market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but
exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia’s nuclear blackmail
or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the
solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is
indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all
democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

While Africa’s problems – poverty, corruption, disease, and
instability – are well known, we must refocus on the bright
promise offered by many countries on that continent. We must
strongly engage on a political, economic, and security level with
friendly governments across Africa, but insist on improvements
in transparency and the rule of law. Many African nations will
not reach their true potential without external assistance to
combat entrenched problems, such as HIV/AIDS, that afflict
Africans disproportionately. I will establish the goal of
eradicating malaria on the continent – the number one killer of
African children under the age of five. In addition to saving
millions of lives in the world’s poorest regions, such a campaign
would do much to add luster to America’s image in the world.

We also share an obligation with the world’s other great powers
to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The
United States and the international community must work
together and do all in our power to contain and reverse North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran – a nation
whose President has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel
from the face of the earth – from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
We should work to reduce nuclear arsenals all around the world,
starting with our own. Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear
powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward
nuclear disarmament. The time has come to renew that
commitment. We do not need all the weapons currently in our
arsenal. The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear
disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of
peace.

If we are successful in pulling together a global coalition for
peace and freedom – if we lead by shouldering our international
responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future
for humanity, I believe we will gain tangible benefits as a nation.

It will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our
time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. This challenge is
transcendent not because it is the only one we face. There are
many dangers in today’s world, and our foreign policy must be
agile and effective at dealing with all of them. But the threat
posed by the terrorists is unique. They alone devote all their
energies and indeed their very lives to murdering innocent men,
women, and children. They alone seek nuclear weapons and
other tools of mass destruction not to defend themselves or to
enhance their prestige or to give them a stronger hand in world
affairs but to use against us wherever and whenever they can.
Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all
others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she
does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a
president has – to protect the lives of the American people.

We learned through the tragic experience of September 11 that
passive defense alone cannot protect us. We must protect our
borders. But we must also have an aggressive strategy of
confronting and rooting out the terrorists wherever they seek to
operate, and deny them bases in failed or failing states. Today al
Qaeda and other terrorist networks operate across the globe,
seeking out opportunities in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa,
and in the Middle East.

Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military
force. It will require the use of all elements of our national
power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law
enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and
robust intelligence capabilities. I have called for major changes
in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic
extremism by much greater resources for and integration of
civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict
challenges. Our goal must be to win the “hearts and minds” of
the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their
future controlled by a minority of violent extremists. In this
struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart
bombs.

We also need to build the international structures for a durable
peace in which the radical extremists are gradually eclipsed by
the more powerful forces of freedom and tolerance. Our efforts
in Iraq and Afghanistan are critical in this respect and cannot be
viewed in isolation from our broader strategy. In the troubled
and often dangerous region they occupy, these two nations can
either be sources of extremism and instability or they can in time
become pillars of stability, tolerance, and democracy.

For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of
relying on autocrats to provide order and stability. We relied on
the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of
Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam
Hussein. In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel. The
Shah was overthrown by the radical Islamic revolution that now
rules in Tehran. The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world
produced increasing instability. The autocrats clamped down
with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding
Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not
become its victims. It was a toxic and explosive mixture. The
oppression of the autocrats blended with the radical Islamists’
dogmatic theology to produce a perfect storm of intolerance and
hatred.

We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-
dated autocracies is the safest bet. They no longer provide
lasting stability, only the illusion of it. We must not act rashly or
demand change overnight. But neither can we pretend the status
quo is sustainable, stable, or in our interests. Change is
occurring whether we want it or not. The only question for us is
whether we shape this change in ways that benefit humanity or
let our enemies seize it for their hateful purposes. We must help
expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many
strengths as a free people. This is not just idealism. It is the
truest kind of realism. It is the democracies of the world that will
provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an
enduring peace.

If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East
through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to
Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching
across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and
Indonesia. Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region.
And whether they eventually become stable democracies
themselves, or are allowed to sink back into chaos and
extremism, will determine not only the fate of that critical part of
the world, but our fate, as well. That is the broad strategic
perspective through which to view our efforts in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Many people ask, how should we define success?
Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful,
stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to
neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists. It is the
triumph of religious tolerance over violent radicalism.

Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are
wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared
the war in Iraq already lost. Since June 2007 sectarian and ethnic
violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90 percent. Overall civilian
deaths have been reduced by more than 70 percent. Deaths of
coalition forces have fallen by 70 percent. The dramatic
reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to
something approaching normal political and economic life for
the average Iraqi. People are going back to work. Markets are
open. Oil revenues are climbing. Inflation is down. Iraq’s
economy is expected to grown by roughly 7 percent in 2008.
Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and
provincial grassroots level. Sunni and Shia chased from their
homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning. Political
progress at the national level has been far too slow, but there is
progress.

Critics say that the “surge” of troops isn’t a solution in itself, that
we must make progress towards Iraqi self-sufficiency. I agree.
Iraqis themselves must increasingly take responsibility for their
own security, and they must become responsible political actors.
It does not follow from this, however, that we should now
recklessly retreat from Iraq regardless of the consequences. We
must take the course of prudence and responsibility, and help
Iraqis move closer to the day when they no longer need our help.

That is the route of responsible statesmanship. We have incurred
a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act
of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were
to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the
horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that
would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature
withdrawal. Our critics say America needs to repair its image in
the world. How can they argue at the same time for the morally
reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?

Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight
al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous
mistake. Whether they were there before is immaterial, al Qaeda
is in Iraq now, as it is in the borderlands between Pakistan and
Afghanistan, in Somalia, and in Indonesia. If we withdraw
prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim
victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while
they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, as
various factions of Sunni and Shia have yet to move beyond their
ancient hatreds, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda. Civil
war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize
the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their
favored factions. I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal
would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our
values. Iran will also view our premature withdrawal as a
victory, and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country
with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of
Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow
significantly. These consequences of our defeat would threaten
us for years, and those who argue for it, as both Democratic
candidates do, are arguing for a course that would eventually
draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far
greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. I do
not argue against withdrawal, any more than I argued several
years ago for the change in tactics and additional forces that are
now succeeding in Iraq, because I am somehow indifferent to
war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families.
I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and
very personally how grievous its wages are. But I know, too,
that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even
higher ones later.

I run for President because I want to keep the country I love and
have served all my life safe, and to rise to the challenges of our
times, as generations before us rose to theirs. I run for President
because I know it is incumbent on America, more than any other
nation on earth, to lead in building the foundations for a stable
and enduring peace, a peace built on the strength of our
commitment to it, on the transformative ideals on which we were
founded, on our ability to see around the corner of history, and
on our courage and wisdom to make hard choices. I run because
I believe, as strongly as I ever have, that it is within our power to
make in our time another, better world than we inherited.

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Hot Spots returns April 17.

Brian Trumbore