Watching the Debates

I was struck by how well both candidates held up for 90 minutes of unrelenting pressure. I’m not a political scientist, just someone who watches the news, but I thought that Sen. McCain kept harping on ‘naivete’ more as a slogan and provocation than a debating point. I thought he was conflating Iraq, Vietnam and the Cold War and going for emotion rather than fact.

I noticed that he took some shots at Russia, and sounded like he was ready for a face-off over Georgia, and that worried me. How many wars are we ready to fight? How many American soldiers are we ready to lose? For somewhere we’ve never heard of a couple of months ago, against a country we were on better terms with a few years ago?

In response to the Russia crisis McCain was seen widely as reckless in his condemnation of Russia. Kissinger said last week that “We have to face the fact that the first shot in Georgia was fired on the Georgian side.” The funny thing in McCain’s Russia answer is that he demonstrated the very reckless behavior that people have accused him of. He recited his over-used “KGB” line that when he looks into Putin’s soul he sees the letters K-G-B. Clever line that completely screws us with any future relationship with Russia. Which hey, three Republican Secretaries of State (Kissinger, Powell, and Baker) say is incredibly important and not worth sacrificing for a border conflict in the Caucuses. McCain’s priorities are completely off base and his over-the-top rhetoric which was on display only makes the possibility of a new Cold War all the more likely.

Maybe it’s from taking care of my little old Russian ladies, maybe it’s from remembering the fear of living in the shadow of the Cold War all my life, but I hope that we can work through diplomacy – war with Russia was the worst-case scenario in times more uncertain even than the present.

Back when Sen. Barack Obama was running against Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary I favored him because he said he would talk with foreign leaders without preconditions. I’m glad he’s sticking to that. We have no right to send any American soldier into harm’s way before we have exhausted every alternative. I actually heard someone on the radio saying that our troops are over there so that we can fill up our tanks and go to the supermarket, and it was not some lefty being ironic.

I don’t want any American ever to go to war for any other reason than national survival, when no other way is possible.

Some commentators were saying that Sen. Obama didn’t deliver a knockout punch, but folks, this isn’t American Idol. I hope that when we vote it won’t be based on a clever line or who wore the best tie.

So what do you think?

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One thought on “Watching the Debates

  1. We shouldn’t go to war over Georgia,and inviting Ukraine and Georgia into NATO is a provocation we will have thrown in our face when we go after Russia for trying to establish military alliances with countries like Venezuela,Ecuador,and Bolivia.
    I don’t see the ultimate benefit to the US to encroaching by proxy on Russia’s borders.
    What we need is a strong diplomatic front in cooperation with other eastern European nations to discourage Russian attempts to re-impose their presence where it is unwanted.
    Nancy-it helps a great deal to get familiar with European history from 1900-1939 to understand the irredentist disputes and other pressures on the region since the fall of the USSR.
    If you mention the War of Intervention to most people they will give you a blank stare,but it was fought by US troops allied with British,Czechs,and Japanese(!)in Siberia after the Communist revolution.

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