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Candidates differ on war, peace

Published 9:57am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It would be unfair to say one candidate favors war and the other peace, but there are big differences in the world views of President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.

Obama’s are in keeping with most Democrats, going back at least to the time of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940s.

FDR, after leading America to victory in World War II, advocated that the nations of the world unite in an organization to promote cooperation and peace. The United Nations, which grew out of his work, has not been perfect, but it has helped the world avoid a World War III.

FDR’s successor, Harry Truman, persuaded the U.N. to help stop North Korean aggression.

Over the years, following the “Truman Doctrine” of “containment,” America built strong alliances with the nations of Europe and elsewhere to contain the spread of Soviet communism. Ultimately, that doctrine worked, and the communists who ran Russia decided to abandon their aggressive goals.

In 2002, Republican George W. Bush declared a new policy for America, which became known as the “Bush Doctrine.”

It said America had the right to a preemptive attack against any nation that we thought might be a threat, now or in the future. He did not get the support of the U.N. for the invasion of Iraq, and a long, bloody war followed.

Sadly, we’re now reaping some of the results of unnecessarily antagonizing the people of that region and Islam itself, which is 1.5 billion people worldwide.

President Obama, though using force to bring down Osama Bin Laden and leaders of Al Qaida, and surging more troops into Mr. Bush’s other war in Afghanistan, has been careful to cooperate with allies and avoid unnecessary confrontations.

He’s brought the troops home from Iraq on schedule, in spite of pressures from some in the military and Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, his opponent in 2008, who said he didn’t care if our troops remained there for 100 years. Obama has scheduled our troops to come home from Afghanistan in 2014.

Governor Romney seems to bring his “47%” attitude toward America’s less fortunate, to foreign affairs assessments as well. Israel and Palestine, he says, can never reach agreement, so we should just avoid their problem and “kick it down the road.”

But President Carter, whom Republicans like to point to as a failure, brought Egypt and Israel together in spite of animosity going back to the time of Moses.

President Clinton sponsored successful peace talks between Northern and southern Ireland. They had been fighting at least since the 1600s.

These kinds of efforts by Carter and Clinton show that America can be a force for good in the world. Governor Romney, not very experienced in foreign affairs, is relying for advice mostly on people from the recent Bush administration, such as John Bolton.

Bolton once said, “You could lose the top ten floors of the U.N.” and it wouldn’t matter — a sharp contrast with FDR’s view.

This attitude, along with support for preemptive war, rests on the dangerous assumption that we are above international law and can do no wrong. And the Romney-Ryan budget proposals include large increases for the military—already far larger than any other nation’s–while cutting funds for students, health care, and even veteran’s needs.

Although politicians often disagree over foreign policy, most have followed the advice famously articulated by Republican Senator Vandenberg of Michigan during World War II: “Politics stops at the water’s edge.”

Meaning, when our President is abroad, or dealing with military actions abroad, his political opponents at home remain silent, or supportive, as Democrats were of Bush after 9/11.

The time for criticism is after the immediate crisis is over, not while it’s raging.

Governor Romney ignored this sage advice as he recently criticized the President for, he said incorrectly, sympathizing with those who attacked our Libyan embassy. They hadn’t attacked the embassy when the statement was made, and the President had not personally made the statement.

Voters will have to choose which philosophy and which personality they trust to defend the nation and protect our citizens: President Obama’s experience, strength and cooperation, or Governor Romney’s tough talk, but pessimism and little sensitivity toward a very diverse world.


Jack Burgess is a retired teacher of American & Global Studies, a U.S. Army veteran, and a native of southern Ohio.

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  • Noesis

    Keta: And Mitt’s diplomatic skills were on display during his recent trip to the United Kingdom, where he insulted practically everybody he met and made more rookie mistakes than one would have thought possible.

    Only liberals think that:

    Piers Morgan Defends Romney’s Olympics Comments: ‘He Was Just Speaking The Truth’

    CNN host Piers Morgan appeared on his network with Brooke Baldwin on Thursday where he talked about his interview with Mitt and Ann Romney. Prior to playing clips of the interview, Morgan was asked about Romney’s comments to NBC where he wondered if London was up to the security challenges that the Olympics will pose. The comments drew sharp criticism from some members of the British press corps. But Morgan shocked when he defended Romney’s comments saying that the presumptive Republican nominee was “absolutely right” to question whether the U.K. was ready for the Olympics.

    Baldwin asked Morgan for his thought on Romney saying that he found London’s lack of security preparation for the Olympics “disconcerting.” Morgan said he thought Romney was correct.

    “It’s no secret over here that for the last three weeks the security around the Olympics has been a shambles,” said Morgan. “The outside firm they got in to run it has been all over the place – they didn’t have enough people and the army had to be drafted in. So, Mitt Romney was only saying exactly what has been happening.”

    “He’s run an Olympics, so I thought he was perfectly entitled to be critical,” Morgan continued. He said that the English press jumped on him because they wanted Romney to “talk us up a bit,” but the substance of Romney’s critique was on point.

    “I thought it was a bit of a fuss about nothing,” said Morgan. “He was just speaking the truth which can sometimes be rather unpalatable.”

    Talking about “speaking the truth”, what’s up with Obambi lying to the American people about the terrorist attack that occurred on 9/11/12 in Libya and telling everybody it was caused by a youtube video that had been released 6 months prior? He knew within 24 hours that it was a terrorist attack timed for the 9/11 anniversary and yet he didn’t want to accept responsibility for this failure of his.

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  • bigkahuna

    Who was the only U.S.President to BOW to foreign leaders?

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  • mikehaney

    Military contractors cutting thousands of jobs ahead of cuts in 2013.
    Obama’s attacks on coal;thousands more laid off.
    Weak military,everyone on welfare.
    Good job Obambi; good luck america if you get re-elected.

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  • keta

    One sentence from Obama’s UN speech says it all

    Oh, for heaven’s sake. So we SHOULD be able to slander Islam with impunity, because only Christianity deserves respect? You don’t get it. OUR freedom to worship as we please is decimated every time somebody else’s faith is mocked and insulted. And Mitt’s diplomatic skills were on display during his recent trip to the United Kingdom, where he insulted practically everybody he met and made more rookie mistakes than one would have thought possible. He’s revealed himself to be as awkward a statesman as he is a candidate. Mick, I think you’re saying, as usual, that the president is bad at everything because he supports a woman’s right to choose. Ridiculous.

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  • mikehaney

    One sentence from Obama’s UN speech says it all.
    “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

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  • mickakers

    Jack Burgess; I liked your quote from Senator Vandenberg “Politics stops at the water’s edge.”, and I might add, Diplomacy steps in. Do you really believe President Obama is an accomplished Diplomat? I think otherwise, as demonstrated by his handling or lack of, Congress. Your comment “Governor Romney, not very experienced in foreign affairs”, this could be construed as a paradoxical statement, shades of what they said about Obama during the last Presidential election. I feel a vote for Barack Obama is a vote for moral decay as demonstrated by his stand on the killing of the unborn (abortion), Same Sex Marriage (destruction of family life, the basic unit of society) and his disregard for Freedom of Conscience when it comes to religious beliefs. Without the right to life, the importance of other issues and rights seem to dim. As an afterthought, I think due recognition should be given to President Woodrow Wilson and his efforts in establishing The League Of Nations which was the brainchild of the United Nations. President Wilson won the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in this regard. Enjoyed your article as usual.

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