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This is in response to an interesting assignment from our blog overlords. Instead of concentrating on all the problems of the other guy, why are we voting FOR our candidate of preference? For this article, choosing the area to focus on for John McCain is easy. In terms of foreign policy experience he is exactly the kind of president we need. But it's not just his experience that distinguishes him, it's several character qualities that he has exhibited over the past few years during our battle with the forces of terror.
Unlike many politicians, John McCain is not afraid to speak up when he feels something isn't correct. He was one of those who definitely spoke up and criticized the Bush administration over their handling of the insurgency in Iraq. He had seen this before, in Vietnam, closely, and he knew instinctively that a change in tactics was needed. So he joined with Norman Schwarzkopf and blasted Rumsfeld, declaring he had "no confidence" in Rumsfeld's tactics in Iraq.
Unlike most members of the opposition party, McCain was able to separate tactics from strategy. The failure of Bush and Rumsfeld did not necessarily mean we wave the white flag and go home. It meant that we change our tactics to something that would work. McCain's efforts in this area would eventually enable Gen. David Petraeus to assume command and shape the tactics and strategy of the surge that has been so successful over the last year and a half.
When the Bush administration did finally give Petraeus the resources for the surge, McCain stuck by his word and supported it even though everyone told him that he was likely giving up his chance for the Republican nomination and the presidency. They were wrong and McCain was right. Because McCain knew what apparently very few in the intelligentsia know: You don't bet against the American military.
McCain is also able to see the big picture and recognize that Iraq had become a battleground, a last stand, and a proxy war for al Qaeda. Losing there would have emboldened our enemies and doubtless led to more attacks abroad and even here in America. Winning in Iraq would show the Arab world that the USA stands by our word and that a functioning democracy with civil liberties and rights is worth fighting for. And functioning democracies that don't threaten and attack their neighbors are the real key to peace in the Middle East. That is the big picture that McCain understands, that Iraq is just a small part in what will likely be a decades-long slog to eradicate terrorism.
That's not a very happy thought, but it is the world we live in. A president who is both aware of that fact and is willing to do what is necessary to protect our nation, even at great personal sacrifice, is exactly the kind of leader I'm looking for in this election.
Read other Affirmative Case endorsements:
The idea behind The Affirmative Case series is here.
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