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February 20, 2008

Four More Years of Bush's Foreign Policy
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

McCain’s ill-advised comments about Obama’s Pakistan policy have really picked up some steam today, and rightfully so.  But, thinking about this in a larger context, this is essentially the first direct salvo in a general election campaign that McCain is launching at Obama (Assuming Obama does in fact hold on and gets the nomination, which is obviously still unclear).  All the criticism of the hope stuff is more abstract.  I think this is the first substantive and specific policy shot either side has taken.  So, it's an important moment. 

And what does McCain do with that moment?  He basically signals that he will continue George Bush’s horrible foreign policy.  End stop.  The McCain policy will be the Bush policy.  It will be a policy that prioritizes Iraq and discounts Pakistan and Afghanistan.  How else do you explain the fact that John McCain is committed to an open-ended commitment to Iraq, but is criticizing Obama for suggesting we go after terrorists in more aggressive ways in Pakistan?  (Too bad our intelligence agencies disagree with McCain and feel that the direct threat to the homeland is in Pakistan.) 

Supposedly, John McCain's great strength is foreign policy and national security.  But if this is going to be his line of attack, then in the words of the great George W. Bush I say "bring it on!"

Also, the Obama campaign has put together a pretty impressive research piece that breaks it down pretty well.  And below the fold a transcript of an introduction that Susan Rice, one of Obama's foreign policy advisors, gave on a conference call this morning.

Thank you very much. Last night John McCain criticized Barack Obama by saying that he often "has confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally Pakistan." To this John McCain is misrepresenting and distorting Barack Obama's position. Barack Obama never suggested "bombing and ally." Las summer in a major speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in response to a National Intelligence Estimate that says Al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in the northwest of Pakistan and was threatening the American homeland, Obama said "there are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered three thousand Americans, they are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an Al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and President Musharaf wont act, we will." That is his quote. The fact that the reason that Osama Bin Laden  and Al Qaeda's core leadership are still holed up in those mountains are because of the Bush/McCain war in Iraq. We diverted resources from the fight against Al Qaeda, allowing Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to escape across the border into Pakistan where they now continue to threaten Americans. That was a critical and incalculable cost of the war in Iraq. But apparently John McCain thinks we need to fight a hundred year war in Iraq and threaten to bomb Iran but he doesn't think we should act when we have actionable intelligence that would enable us to take out Osama Bin Laden and top Al Qaeda terrorists. Even though this a policy that our military and intelligence community is ready to carry and we learned in yesterdays Washington Post is a policy that has already had some considerable success. Barack Obama was right about the war in Iraq and he was right to warn in 2002 that we needed to finish the fight with Al Qaeda. John McCain along with George Bush was wrong he was the one who offered this country confused leadership when he argued that an invasion in Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, was the right way to respond to 9/11. Barack