In an International Herald Tribune article from July discusses Obama's visit to the Middle East, with a particular focus on Afghanistan. At the time, Obama's overseas travel was highly questioned by many Republicans as well as some media outlets who felt he was using the trip as a campaign promotion and overstepping his boundaries as a Senator.
Obama's stance on what needs to happen in Afghanistan is made very clear in the article. He believes the country should be "the central focus, the central front, in the battle against terrorism." While meeting with President Hamid Karzai, Obama restated his commitment to supporting the country and maintaining a troop presence.
His strong stance on this issue is an important and intriguing one. Firstly, one of the biggest criticisms of Obama, leveled particularly by the McCain camp, has been his lack of foreign policy experience. His visit to the Middle East and meetings with top officials in the countries he stopped in, shows that he is comfortable meeting with, talking with and developing policy with other countries. Obama's stance has long been that the U.S. should maintain open talks even with enemy countries, and this trip showed that. That is quite different from the current Bush administration.
Also, in having a clear stance on Iraq troop withdrawals and what should occur in Afghanistan, Obama is making a clear division between the two countries. Under the Bush administration, the war on terrorism has seemed to envelope every military operation the U.S. is involved in, including what many call lies aimed at justifying a war on Iraq. Both Obama and McCain, however, have stepped away from that connection - one that has lost Bush lots of popularity points - and talked about clear plans of action for each country separately (although they each have differing plans of action).
To view the article:
To view a slideshow of Obama in Iraq:
AP / Andy Dunaway
March 13, 2008
Several months ago, Senator John McCain traveled over seas to meet with foreign officials in order to promote his 'foreign policy credentials' for his campaign for presidency. Along with him on the trip were Joe Lieberman and Senator Lindsey Graham. There were several v.i.p's on the list that McCain was scheduled to meet with. First was the American Ambassador of Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, the Senior American Military commander in the country, General David H. Petraeus, and the Iraqi Prime Minister Kamal al-Maliki. One main concern that the Iraqi government had with John McCain's visit to Iraq was that if he were elected president in November, there would be a large U.S. military presence still in their country.
“This visit confirms that the Republicans believe that the Iraqi war is very important in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East,” said Wael Abdul Latif. Latif is part of the Iraqi parliament. He continued to say, in short, that even after Bush leaves, the U.S. will still have presence. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq are among the thought as the Democratic party in the U.S. thinking that if the Republicans win this election, not much will change in Iraq.
Although there was a lot of politics in hand during this trip, McCain said that he was not there strictly for that. He stated that this was a trip with two other people going as an Armed Services Committee. However, afterwards, on a trip to London he will be attending a $1,000 a-plate-fund-raising event.
On March 2, 2007 Senator Barack Obama made a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Forum concerning his plan of what the U.S. should do in the Middle East. The first step that Obama plans to take is to secure Israel because this country is our strongest ally in the region and is the only established democracy.
Obama opposes the war altogether because it has made the world more unsafe by fueling terrorism and helping terrorist organizations. It is his belief that the U.S. needs to start removing all our forces from Iraq and be done doing so by March of 2008. After we do this, Obama believes that we will then be able to focus our attention on combating international terrorism and effectively deal with Iran.
It is important that we focus on keeping nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment programs out of Iran’s hands. The radical thinking of Iran’s President, Ahmadinejad, is something that should not be taken lightly. We need to think seriously about how to take control and make sure that we do not have a repeat occurrence of the holocaust.
In the end, it is important that people understand that Obama is not attempting to dictate, but only help Israelis and Palestinians fulfill their national goals. If Obama is effectively able to carry out this plan, it should be very beneficial. It also has the potential to backfire on us.
View the article (Obama's speech): : <http://www.cfr.org/publication/13074/>
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In March of this year Presidential Nominee John McCain spoke with the Jerusalem Post in an interview that the British newspaper the Telegraph reprinted. In this interview McCain openly discussed his views on the Hamas and Hizbollah. He termed them not only a threat for Israel and the Middle East, but a serious threat for the United States and the rest of the world.
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McCain expressed sympathy for the people of Israel after rocket attacks by Palestinian militant groups and reaffirmed his commitment to Israel. McCain then went on to attack the Islamist militant groups of Hamas and Hezbollah, claiming that if they succeed in Israel, they will succeed everywhere.
McCain wants the peace process to begin soon, however it is somewhat hypocritical when at the same time advocates a war in the Middle East with no definite end. McCain claims that there is an urgency to U.S. involvement, however it is somewhat unrealistic to believe that the United States will be able to end two thousand years of violence.
However, it is interesting that the BBC view of McCain is that these trips to the Middle East allow him to appear statesmanlike and presidental as he fights for the election.