By David Swanson
There was only one foreign policy asked about in Friday night’s foreign policy debate: war and potential wars.
Obama began the debate by allowing McCain to get away with claiming the mantle of “accountability” on the issue of a bailout that rewards fraud in financial markets. Why? Because Obama won’t oppose the bailout.
Then he let McCain get away with complaining about a huge increase in the size of government, without pointing out that the larger “size” of government is wars and military spending supported by McCain (and Obama).
Obama finally spoke up on a serious and good difference with McCain on taxes, even going so far as to speak in favor of taxing businesses rather than people, but allowed McCain to seize the high ground on earmarks and “pork barrel spending.”
In most cases, Obama spoke on one topic and McCain on another. This was not a debate in which both were required to speak on the same points.
Obama openly promised shock-doctrinal success for the bailout, telling us that he will have to cut back spending for useful projects. But he took the opportunity to speak about the need for all the things he may or may not fund.
McCain again spoke in favor of cutting spending. He even mentioned that military spending is the highest area of spending!!!! He proposed eliminating cost-plus contracts in the military!!!
Obama said, as he said many times, that he agreed with McCain, but he went to the topic of waste in Medicare and completely avoided the topic of the military.
McCain proposed a spending freeze on everything except military, and Obama rightly refused to agree! He suggested he wouldn’t freeze early childhood education but he would end the war in Iraq. This blip went by very quickly, though, and then McCain ran his mouth for a long time on energy alternatives.
But Obama came back stressing health care as a priority over tax cuts for billionaires. McCain claimed Obama wants to deny people choice of doctors and claimed that he, McCain, supports the needs of veterans — both untrue, but who would know it?
What are the lessons of Iraq? McCain said the lesson is that you need more troops. Obama said the war should never have been begun, that we should have focused on a war in Afghanistan. Nobody suggested there was any problem with aggressive wars and empire.
McCain repeated his surge hype, and Obama went along and agreed the surge was the big success it’s alleged to be, but stressed that the whole “war” was a disaster.
When McCain claimed Obama voted against “funding troops” Obama replied well, although without challenging the absurd lie that funding a war is funding the soldiers. Obama by this point was looking less nervous and more energetic.
Obama favored putting more troops in Afghanistan, claiming that occupying Afghanistan is a response to 9-11. And he added Pakistan — he would send more troops there too. (Authorized by what Congress and what U.N.?) McCain opposed cutting off aid to Pakistan or launching military strikes into it, or at least announcing your attention to do so.
Obama came back nicely (other than the illegal militaristic policies he advocated) and went after McCain for advocating the extinction of North Korea and singing songs about bombing Iran.
But then McCain ran on and on and on. Did he talk many more minutes of this debate than Obama or just seem like it?
Lehrer just jumped in to claim the amount of time was even for the two. Credible?
Next topic: Iran. It was all war, all the time, in this debate. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and later Russia and another 9-11.
McCain claimed Iran getting a nuke would mean a second holocaust, that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and that Iran is putting IEDs in Iraq (there’s an oldie but goodie).
Obama blamed the occupation of Iraq (without saying “occupation”) for Iran developing nuclear weapons, but agreed on the claim that Iran is doing that and with everything else -and said so again: “I agree”.
Obama disagreed with refusing to talk to Iran. McCain claimed Ahmadinejad is currently in New York talking about destroying Israel. I guarantee Obama won’t challenge that.
He didn’t. He cited his agreement with war-criminal Henry Kissinger on meeting with Iran without pre-conditions. And McCain backed Obama into the corner of claiming that he never meant that he, as president, would meet with Ahmadinejad.
Next topic: Russia. Obama talked semi-tough on Russia regarding Georgia. McCain talked tougher and denounced Russia as a criminal nation going to war for oil and empire and violating the norms of international behavior. (How would he know about such things?)
Obama again: “I agree.” But he also said he’d warned of the problem before it was a crisis. Obama, admirably, brought in the relevance of green (and nuclear) energy.
Last question, after a list of wars and possible wars, before ever getting to diplomacy, peace, friendship, aid, global warming, poverty, trade, or immigration: Do you think we’ll have another 9-11?
McCain praised the 9-11 Commission. Then he declared that we must never ever torture a prisoner again, despite his record of the past two years of supporting torture, which I guarantee neither Obama nor Lehrer will mention.
They didn’t. Obama praised airport security but said more is needed in ports, etc. And he hyped the fear of terrorists with nukes (while 9-11 was done with box cutters; and scared people support McCain).
McCain claimed that Star Wars ended the Cold War, which nobody will question.
They didn’t. Then McCain went back to the surge nonsense yet again. Obama agreed, yet again, but again faulted the focus on Iraq rather than Afghanistan. Obama added China to the list of countries to worry about.
McCain compared Obama to Bush (!) by claiming that he is as stubborn in refusing to praise the surge as Bush is in other things.
Obama, to his credit, refrained from again praising the surge, and instead rightly talked about America’s decline in world opinion in recent years.
Lehrer gave McCain the last word, and he put in his prison stay in Vietnam and called himself a champion of veterans, his actual record notwithstanding and never mentioned.