Posts Tagged ‘2008 Election’

A foreign policy of persuasion or invasion?

September 30, 2008

By David Farside

The presidential debate between McCain and Obama last week seemed like a replay of their TV commercials. PBS journalist Jim Lehrer moderated the exercise in rhetorical dance and tried to persuade the political adversaries to discuss the issues, their ideas and possible solutions with each other. I’m sure Lerher meant well, but that would have changed the venue from a formal debate to a discussion. McCain and Obama knew the difference and did address most of their responses to the moderator. As it turned out, it was a debate and a discussion.

I may not remember too much about high school, but I do remember my debate class teacher, Mrs. Coffee. She reminded us that she was the moderator and she would ask the questions. Furthermore, we had to present the facts directly to her and not the debating team across from us and any rebuttal had to be directed to her. She said a formal political debate is an argumentation, an act of persuasion based on the presentation of facts to a third party and should be judged by a third party;otherwise it was just a personal discussion. She may have been half right and all wrong but that is how she conducted the class.

The usual subjects of foreign policy, the economy, health care, taxes, nuclear energy, war and voting history in the Senate were open for discussion. McCain has 20 years more experience in the Senate than Obama, so Obama had a lot more to criticize. Obama made a major foreign policy blunder so maybe they were even. The canned responses by both candidates didn’t tell us anymore than we already knew about the senators.

Twice during the debate, Obama forgot who he was talking to. Shortly into the discussion he started to call John McCain, “Tim” but caught himself just in time. About 15 minutes later Obama almost called McCain “Jim” and I think he bit his tongue.

McCain continued to waltz around his voting record and gave his typical illogical Republican responses and reasons to stay the course in Iraq. Although, he made some good points concerning Afghanistan and Pakistan and watched Obama shoot himself in the foot when it came to Pakistan.

A few months ago, Obama said we should cross Pakistan’s border to invade and capture known terrorists without the Pakistani government’s approval. Evidently he needs to brush up on his rethinking policy.

Just last week at an address before the United Nations, Asif Ali Zardari, president of Pakistan, referring to the periodic invasion by American soldiers and their killing of innocent Pakistani children and civilians, stated that he can’t allow his country “to be violated by our friends.” He said that the attacks actually strengthened the same extremists the United States is trying to destroy.

A week before his visit to the United Nations, Zardari told the United States that the Pakistan army would fire on any Americans violating the Pakistan borders- and they did. This coming not from Iran, who is trying to develop a nuclear bomb, but from an ally that already has a nuclear weapon. Another Pakistani lawmaker told the Americans “enough is enough, and we will not help you if you kill our people. The American war against terrorism has become a war against Pakistan.” I hope Obama got the message.

Obama seems to be talking with a forked tongue again. During his campaign he said he would sit down and negotiate with Iran or any other terrorist to solve existing problems and to avert military combat without preconditions, a statement McCain criticized during the debate.

McCain questioned why Obama would give credence to the terrorist in Iran by engaging in high-level negations with them without preconditions. And that is a good question. But my question is, why would you negotiate with a so-called enemy like Iran and invade a so-called friendly Democratic ally like Pakistan?

In Obama’s case the answer is simple. He has learned how to be a typical old-school politician. He, like McCain, will always say anything to get elected. They both promise to make changes but neither one of them have a vote in Congress where changes are made. And both candidates are experts in rhetoric.

However, if Obama wants to win the White House, he has to learn something Bush will never learn: the difference between our enemies and our allies and the difference between the art of persuasion and the ignorance of invasion.