Saturday, May 17, 2008

Obama-McCain: A Detailed Security Debate Needed

Written from Gabes, Tunisia--

President Bush got a lot of flak from Democrats for his remarks before the Knesset in Israel questioning Democratic "appeasers" of terrorists, with an implication that he was talking about Sen. Barack Obama.

I thought the President had vowed to stay out of the 2008 election, and I find it hard to believe that Sen. John McCain is happy he now seems to be commenting. By a very large margin, polls indicate that voters are not pleased with the Bush policies.

That said, however, the security of the United States is an extremely important issue in this election, and there certainly needs to be a great deal of debate--with as little fearmongering as possible--about what direction the country should now go. As an Obama Republican, I feel the same way generally that I felt when the Jeremiah Wright controversy exploded: Questions of all the candidates, including Obama, are necessary, and the hardest questions are the most necessary. And, of course, their candid answers are required.

Both McCain and Obama, assuming he is the Democratic nominee, and Sen. Hillary Clinton, if she is, must tell us in the most possible detail how they view the options facing the U.S. It is a life or death matter, because, with nuclear proliferation, the chance that some fanatic is going to try to attack American cities or the cities of our allies, with nuclear weapons can, on no count, be discounted.

The same thing with Iraq. Public unhappiness with the way the war is going has already induced McCain to amend his statement we might remain there 100 years, to say he hopes to win the war by 2013. Obama must continue to air his Iraq views completely.

As to whom U.S. diplomats should talk to or not talk to, I'm surprised to hear suggestions from any quarter that we should not talk to Iran. The fact is, the Bush Administration itself has had discussions with Iranian representatives, and both the Secretary of State and the Defense Secretary have supported such talks.

There is a difference between talking to governments, and talking to terrorist organizations, like Hamas and Hezbollah, which are Iranian proxies, but not Iran itself.

I continue to have some hope for constructive talks with Iran.

But we must await the comprehensive views of all the presidential candidates before we can legitimately decide who to vote for in November.

--

Anita Busch, a former L.A. Times reporter threatened by the now convicted Anthony Pellicano has made charges of Times complicity with Pellicano which must be completely investigated, perhaps by an outside ethics expert. Her charges are disquieting, and it is important they be resolved in such a way that the public will feel confident in the findings.

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