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McCain and Obama...foreign policy
Following are some excerpts from Defense News and a story in the Oct. 6, 2008 issue by William Matthews concerning the two presidential candidates and their attitudes on key foreign policy issues.
McCain: “The lessons of Iraq are very clear, that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict…Finally, we came up with a great general and a strategy that has succeeded…and we are winning in Iraq. And we will come home with victory and with honor.” –Presidential debate, Sept. 26
Obama: “Well, this is an area where Senator McCain and I have a fundamental difference because I think the first question is whether we should have gone into war in the first place. Six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war…because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan. We hadn’t caught bin Laden. We hadn’t put al-Qaeda to rest, and as a consequence, I thought that it was going to be a distraction.” – Presidential debate, Sept. 26
McCain: “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.” – Speech to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, March 26
Obama: ‘When I am commander in chief, I will set a new goal on day one: I will end this war….It is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.” –Speech in Fayetteville, N.C., March 19
McCain: “Maybe 100 [years]. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me, and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day.” –New Hampshire town hall meeting, January
Obama: “I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove one to two combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them in 16 months. After this redeployment, we will leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counterrorism force to strike al-Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy.” –Fayetteville, March 19
McCain: “The status quo is not acceptable. Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated, and our enemies are on the offensive. From the moment the next president walks into the Oval Office, he will face critical decisions about Afghanistan….The success of the surge in Iraq shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan. It is by applying the tried and true principles of counterinsurgency used in the surge – which Senator Obama opposed – that we will win in Afghanistan….I know how to win wars. And if I’m elected president, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory.” –Speech in New Mexico, July 16
Obama: “The central front in the war against terror is not Iraq, and it never was….That is why my presidency will shift our focus. Rather than fight a war that does not need to be fought, we need to start fighting the battles that need to be won on the central front of the war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” –Fayetteville, March 19
McCain: “Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say that they need at least three additional brigades. Thanks to the success of the surge, these forces are becoming available….But sending more forces, by itself, is not enough to prevail. What we need in Afghanistan is exactly what General Petraeus brought to Iraq: a nationwide civil-military campaign plan that is focused on providing security for the population.” –New Mexico, July 16
Obama: “It is not too late to prevail in Afghanistan. But we cannot prevail until we reduce our commitment in Iraq, which will allow us to do what I called for last August – providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our efforts in Afghanistan….
“A stepped-up military commitment must be backed by a long-term investment in the Afghan people. We will start with an additional $1 billion in nonmilitary assistance each year….We need to improve daily life by supporting education, basic infrastructure and human services.” –Fayetteville, March 19
McCain: “A special focus of our regional strategy must be Pakistan, where terrorists today enjoy sanctuary. This must end. We must strengthen local tribes in the border areas who are willing to fight the foreign terrorists there – the strategy used successfully in Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq. We must convince Pakistanis that this is their war as much as it is ours. And we must empower the new civilian government of Pakistan to defeat radicalism with greater support for development, health, and education.” –Town hall meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., July 15
Obama: “We need to fundamentally rethink our Pakistan policy. For years, we have supported stability over democracy in Pakistan, and gotten neither. The core leadership of al-Qaeda has a safe-haven in Pakistan….We cannot tolerate a sanctuary for terrorists who threaten America’s homeland and Pakistan’s stability. If we have actionable intelligence about high-level al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot.” –Fayetteville, March 19
McCain: “I will expand the use of fixed-price contracts to enforce discipline in the procurement process and ensure that clearly defined requirements are fulfilled, realistic schedules are kept, and costs don’t exceed the promised price. Too often, contractors underbid to ‘buy into’ a market with little expectation of delivering on schedule and within budget. At the same time, the government’s cost estimates are often unrealistic.
“The Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to be a model program. In the end, it cost twice its projected price, and the Navy had to cancel purchase of the third ship because of the cost overruns. Fixed-price contracts based on realistic cost estimates with clear, consistent requirements will ensure that the contractor pays for cost overruns, not the taxpayers.” –Speech to the Oklahoma Legislature, May 2007
“As president, I will order a prompt and thorough review of the budgets of every federal program, department and agency…..We will institute a one-year pause in discretionary spending increases with the necessary exemption of military spending and veterans benefits.” –Pittsburgh, April 15
Obama: “When I am president, I will spare no expense to ensure that our troops have the equipment and support they need. There is no higher obligation for a commander in chief….
“The Army has said it will need $13 billion a year just to replace and repair all the equipment that’s been broken or lost….We’ll also have to ensure that our soldiers are trained and equipped to confront the new threats of the 21th century and that our military can meet any challenge around the world. And that is a responsibility I intend to meet as commander in chief.” –Charleston, W.Va., March 20
“Tehran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons poses an unacceptable risk, a danger we cannot allow….The world would have to live, indefinitely, with the possibility that Tehran might pass nuclear materials or weapons to one of its allied terrorist networks….
“Rather than sitting down unconditionally with the Iranian president or supreme leader in the hope that we can talk sense into them, we must create the real-world pressures that will peacefully but decisively change the path they are on. Essential to this strategy is the U.N. Security Council, which should impose progressively tougher political and economic sanctions.” –Speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, June 2
“I have proposed a league of democracies, a group of people, a group of countries that share common interests, common values, common ideals; they also control a lot of the world’s economic power. We could impose significant, meaningful, painful sanctions on the Iranians that I think could have a beneficial effect.” –Presidential debate, Sept. 26
Obama: “We are going to have to, I believe, engage in tough direct diplomacy with Iran, and this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain, this notion [that] by not talking to people we are punishing them has not worked. It has not worked in Iran, it has not worked in Iran, it has not worked in North Korea. In each instance, our efforts of isolation have actually accelerated their efforts to get nuclear weapons. That will change when I’m president of the United States.” –Presidential debate, Sept. 26
“Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a vital national security interest of the United States. No tool of statecraft should be taken off the table.” –Washington, July 15
“I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel. Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation. But that only makes diplomacy more important.” –Speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, June 4