Sunday, January 27, 2008

The question every candidate should have to answer

I don’t want to hear about what Bill Clinton thinks anymore. I don’t want to hear how McCain “wants to be in Iraq for 1,000 years”, that Romney may have wanted a withdrawal date, that any of the candidates is more or less pure on whatever issue or any other chest thumping drivel.

I want to know what each candidate really thinks or if they haven’t actually thought beyond tough talk, suck up platitudes and bumper sticker slogans, when it comes to addressing the extremely fucked up foreign policy path that this country has taken over the past decade.

No more “would you take anything off the table”.

No more “they may be able to restart a nuclear weapons program”.

No more “we have to kill them before they kill us”.

No more “we will not allow [X] to occur, under any circumstances”.

No more “we must be strong and we must also be flexible”.

No more “we must always stay on the offensive”.

No more “we’ll smoke them all out”.

No more “nothing short of victory will do”.

No more “either you are with us or you are against us”.

No more “spreading democracy and freedom”.

No more fluff.

We have a very delicate, complex and deteriorating situation we have thrust ourselves in the middle of in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and we might as well throw in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria into the equation (not to mention Russia, Venezuela, North Korea and China). We have hundreds of thousands of troops in this region, and it is a pressure cooker that has been ready to blow for years - even moreso recently,

What I want to know is:

Given that there has been virtually no political progress in Iraq, the violence is still strong, and in areas where it isn’t it is because of sectarian cleansing, and that the recent NIE indicated that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is false and the recently reported incident in the Strait was proven to be a hoax, that the Taliban and al Qaeda are stronger than ever in Pakistan with a force of up to 40,000, NATO troops in Afghanistan are being attacked with more frequency and Saudi Arabia threatened Vice President Cheney that if the US left Iraq, it would fund the same Sunnis who were killing our troops, why do you think it is so important to threaten Iran and what would you do about these developments in the other countries?

Now, I know this will never be asked - too complex. Too “hypothetical” so we can’t expect a candidate to answer them. The answer doesn’t fit neatly onto a bumper sticker, and can’t be put into a 15 second sound byte.

But it is reality, and something that the next President is going to have to deal with - and it impacts the direction of this country. It impacts our energy policy, our choice of whether we would (or when we would) use our military and a host of other issues that will have a great impact on where this country is in the next 5 years.

I wonder how many candidates are prepared to deal with the reality that faces us. Telling us what they would do should be the easy part.

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