Monday, October 22, 2012

My Vote: Why I will vote for Barack Obama, Part One - Foreign Policy

The election is just a couple of weeks away.  The course of our remarkable country for the next four years, and in a lot of ways far beyond that, will be decided on that one day: Tuesday November 6.  I will be voting for Barack Obama.  Here is why I believe he is the better choice on foreign policy.

President Obama has been shrewd and wise with his use of the US military abroad.  Amongst the chief responsibilities of the President is to command the US Military, the responsibility and power has been expanded greatly in the past several decades to the extent that the President can exercise a great deal of military might without so much as a nod to Congress.  President Obama has demonstrated shrewd tact and wisdom in its use.

Osama bin Ladin is dead.  I think that the President probably gets too much credit for that from liberals and quite frankly not enough from conservatives.  But the fact remains, the face of Al Qaeda and the monster behind the deadliest attack on American soil in more than half a century is dead and it happened on President Obama's watch and at his command.  Without a doubt the extensive network of intelligence, the men and women of the greatest military on the planet and the heroes that rushed into that complex on May 2, 2011 did the majority of the work and deserve a lion's share of the credit.  But, there is no doubt that if this had gone differently and our SEALS had failed or died the President would have gotten the wrath of the country.  He was the Commander-in-Chief, the final order was his and he deserves the due credit.  Part of the President's promise to the country in 2008 was that he would hunt down Al Qaeda wherever they may be and he has done so, nearly every significant leader of the terrorist organization is now dead. 

The war in Iraq is over and the longest war in American history, Afghanistan, is winding down. 

I feel that the war in Iraq was ill-planned by President Bush and not necessary.  Yes, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and the world is better for his discontinued existence, but it was a war that we didn't need and cost us much in treasure and more importantly in lives.

By the end of 2014 the war in Afghanistan will be over as well.  This war may have been necessary, given the mood of the country after 9/11/2001.  I think that, with the benefit of hindsight, the whole "war on terror" could have and maybe should have been fought with alternative means-special forces, intelligence, drone strikes, etc.  But now the path is clear, all that remains in Afghanistan is nation building.  Yes, we could stay there in perpetuity and always find terrorist cells to fight, as long as there are religious extremists there will be people that want to kill others to prove that their god is right, but we must, as the President has explained, leave Afghanistan's future and the responsibility for it to the Afghan people.  President Obama, with the counsel of his military advisors has set the plan to do so responsibly.

We have the strongest, best trained, most technologically advanced military on the planet.  We must always maintain that powerful position   But, We are a part of the world community, which I believe makes us stronger, not weaker.  We enjoy broad coalitions to support many of our positions internationally.  The world supports us in sanctioning Iran and our ties with Israel are stronger than ever.. 

Certainly, countries that choose democracy and peace should be helped through open trade and other diplomatic resources.  Undoubtedly those who choose dictatorship, theocracy and war should be punished, likewise with sanctions and diplomatic isolation.  Iran which now suffers under crippling sanctions is evidence that these policies are working..  Without question, those who challenge American safety and the safety of our allies must be dealt with swiftly and decisively, and, if necessary, with military force.  But we must not be the world police. Countries must, in most instances, make their own future. We cannot afford the cost in dollars or lives.

I believe that President Obama has furthered these goals in the past four years.    

Yes, there have been attacks that have slipped through the ample safeguards of the US military.  Most recently the terrorist attack that claimed the life of four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  In a general sense, this like all casualties in the war on terror falls on the head of the President, just as the deaths of the 2,977 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks fell upon the head of President Bush.  But in a specific sense, neither President is responsible.  Yes, there were intelligence reports that an attack was threatened against the Embassy in Libya, just as there threats against scores of American positions through out the world.  Likewise, there were threats that terrorist groups were targeting an attack on US soil using airplanes prior to 9/11.  We live in a big world with many different radical groups that invest their lives plotting to kill Americans.  It is the President's job to stop them, and despite all due diligence, occasionally an attack will be successful.  That outcome is inevitable and President Obama is no more specifically responsible for this failing, despite what ultra-conservatives want to think than President Bush was for 9/11, despite what ultra-liberals want to think.   

For all of these reasons, we are safer now than we were four years ago, that is part of the reason why I will be voting for Barack Obama.

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