September 19, 2008

War: What Else are Presidents Good For?

My current position: Obama is more likely to deal
with potential and current military conflict in a way that I approve of.

No other issue is more directly related to the presidency than war.

Presidents rarely enact major health care reform, radically improve the economy, or even impact education. If they do, they do it with Congress's help (among others).

But out of 43 U.S. presidents, 17 of them have been at war, while virtually all of them have ordered military intervention of some kind.* Truly, out of all items on a candidate's platform, we should vote for a president with the ability to know when to go to war, when to order military intervention, and when to use diplomacy. Historically, that's the main job of a president.

In choosing a president for this ability, I want to answer these questions:

Which candidate is most likely to effectively use diplomacy to avoid military conflict?

Obama has said repeatedly that he would be willing to meet with leaders of Iran, North Korea, Syria, and others. He also showed initiative by taking his campaign to foreign countries. Clearly, he is serious about forging positive international relationships.

McCain prefers to rely on a "multilateral pressure" strategy, which as nearly as I can figure out has consisted of a bunch of countries getting together and deciding not to talk to those nations who oppose the United States' demands (no source on this, as I can't find a clear statement of what these countries' strategy is).

There is a lot of Internet buzz about the word "Unconditional" and the phrase "without precondition" but I've ignored that part of this because it's stupid and juvenile. I would think that anyone getting on Air Force One would think for more than two seconds before they accept an invitation to meet with a friend OR foe. The main points to me are that Obama keeps talking about meeting with people, and McCain keeps talking about carrying on the current strategy which thus far hasn't resolved anything.

If military intervention is necessary, which president will choose the most effective strategy for success?

McCain's choice of strategies is pretty clear. He's been vocal in supporting the way the war in Iraq is currently being handled. states that McCain "advocates continuing the successful counterinsurgency strategy that began in 2007."

Obama has pledged to end the war in Iraq. He has also introduced legislation for that purpose, demonstrating his intention.

I might have time to go into war in more detail later, but for now this should help clarify your position on this issue, depending on how you feel about the way the war in Iraq is being handled, and what you think about how to handle the brewing potential conflicts.

* This is hard to document with one clear source, but you can start here, and then add in wars with Native Americans.

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