We all know there are major differences between Obama and McCain, aside from the obvious ones of age and race. For this post, I ma going to focus a little on their foreign policy.
McCain is experienced, Obama is not. Okay. We get that, but that still does not explain anything, or offer any kind of insight into what the real differences are, or how each plans to handle the issues. Unfortunately, after the debate, which was supposed to focus on foreign affairs and policies, we still don’t know much about this matter. So I did a little digging, and here is what I found. It’s still not a lot, and it still leaves many questions unanswered, but hey, it’s a start.
McCain: It seems like good old John has taken a page from President Bush’s game plan and has had it with the UN, mainly because Russia is a member of the Security Council (so is China) and can exercise its power there to keep things from getting done. McCain’s solution? To form a council of countries (that won’t include Russia or China) to handle threats and problems much like the UN does now. The difference being that these would be democratic countries. To me this sounds kind of like a NATO for the twenty-first century that could start up a new Cold War type scenario between Democratic nations and others. McCain, it seems, hopes that this formation of nations would be able to place sanctions on rogue states like Iran, Syria and North Korea, and make them stick, effectively crushing these countries into submission.
This sounds like a bad idea to me for a couple of reasons. One, if we cut China and Russia out of this theoretical organization, who is to say that they won’t form a new Warsaw Pact type organization? Russia is once again emerging as a world power, and China is quickly on the rise to becoming the newest superpower. If these two countries get together to form a resistance group to the west, we will have another cold war. Only this time, I think it will be the WEST that will be in trouble, especially if Russia and China decided to throw their support behind Iran and other nations McCain’s group would sanction.
Would there be talks before sanctions? Probably not, as McCain has said several times that sitting down and talking with rogue leaders is not something he’s interested in (at least not without pre-set conditions) and considering he has slammed Obama for statements showing a willingness for diplomacy and talks. That’s a bad idea in general–see the current situation in Iraq–because it effectively throws out the diplomatic option. One of the most important options available to any world leader. Also, sanctions do not work in terms of punishing governments. Sure they punish the populace by denying them money, food, and other essentials. But if the people of these countries could overthrow their government and create a state more likable to the WEST, then they would. If anything, sanctions will serve only to keep the people oppressed, thereby effectively shutting down any chance for change.
Obama, on the other hand, seems to want to keep the UN–even with the potential difficulties China and Russia pose–and wants to focus on a more diplomatic approach. This might seem naive, especially since he lacks the experience of McCain, but it is also refreshing. At least to me. Just think about it for a moment. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a President that asked questions first before shooting? I mean, Nixon went to China. In the 70’s. If that is not diplomacy, I don’t know what it. Not to say that I like Nixon, or think that he was a great President, but at least he (as crazy as he was) understood the value of diplomatic relations with other countries.
Would Obama’s willingness to go through diplomatic channels be seen as weak by the rest of the world? I don’t really think so. In fact, they might see it as the rational thing to do, and regain some respect for the Office of the President and America in general–especially on the world stage where it matters. And, as far as I know, Obama has not ruled out the military option. He just wants to talk first, and explore other, less violent solutions. I see nothing wrong with that. It might be what this world needs right now, a leader willing to talk and listen to friends and enemies, as opposed to a leader who will continue the focus on violence as foreign policy.