Archive for the ‘Questions’ Category

McCain begins his essay by telling us that America needs “a president who can” do what, specifically? What have Americans believed since “the dawn of our Republic”? What have “Americans understood from the Revolution to the Cold War? And how have Americans “changed the world”? What did Harry Truman once say of America? Do any of these ideas find an echo in Obama’s essay?

McCain now enumerates some of the things the “next president” will need to do and must be prepared to do. What are those things that our next president will need to do and must be prepared to do?

In the first major section of his essay, “Winning the War on Terror,” McCain identifies what, specifically, as “the national security challenge of our time”? And what “is this war’s central front”? According to whom? What did the US do “after four years of conflict” that now “gives us a realistic chance of success” in Iraq? What, according to McCain, would be the “horrific” consequences of failure in Iraq? What critique does McCain make of the approach to Iraq of the “Democratic candidates”? And we’ll look in detail at Obama’s approach in upcoming posts.

What has recently been happening in Afghanistan, and what must we do there, according to McCain? McCain says that “success in neighboring Pakistan is just as vital.” Why? And what must we do in Pakistan to achieve success? There have been important changes in Pakistan since McCain wrote this essay. Can anybody name one or two of those changes? We’ll look more closely at both McCain’s and Obama’s current thinking on Pakistan/Afghanistan in upcoming posts.

Iran is also a threat, according to McCain. Why is Iran a threat and what can we do about this threat? What are the similarities and/or differences in Obama’s and McCain’s respective approaches to Iran? How does McCain intend to prevent “a new generation of [terrorists] from joining the fight”?

In the next section “Defending the Homeland,” McCain sketches an ambitious plan to rebuild and revitalize our defense capacities. How does he intend to rebuild our military? But note that he wants also to “transform” the military. We need not only “more soldiers” but also the “necessary skills necessary to help friendly governments and their security forces resist common foes.” What skills are those, and how does he intend to provide them? He also wants to “set up a new agency…a modern-day OSS.” What would be the purpose of this new agency? We must also “enhance our civilian capacity,” McCain says. How? And finally, what must we “revitalize”?

McCain moves on to one of his favorite ideas, the League of Democracies, and we’ll look more closely at that idea and the rest of his essay next time.

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In the next section of his essay, “Uniting the World’s Democracies,” McCain talks about one of the signature ideas of his campaign, the League of Democracies, an idea touted by one of his advisors, Robert Kagan, which we’ll look at in more detail in future posts. This League would not be a reprise of Woodrow Wilson’s “doomed plan for the universal-membership League of Nations but “would be similar to what Theodore Roosevelt envisioned.” What did TR envision? And as McCain envisions it, what would his League be prepared to do?

In the next section McCain talks about “Revitalizing the Transatlantic Partnership” between the US and the EU. “The future” of this partnership “lies in confronting” what, specifically? What, according to McCain do we see today in Russia? McCain wants a “new Western approach” to Russia. What are the elements of this “new Western approach”?

McCain now talks about America’s relationship to Asia, Latin America, and Africa. According to McCain, what is “the key to meeting” the challenges posed by North Korea and “ changing Asia”? “In Southeast Asia, what will McCain “seek” and what will he “continue”? Like Russia, China will pose the next president a significant problem. What are some of the “provocative acts” on China’s part to which the US will be compelled to “react”? McCain mentions two “liberalizations” that he would like to see the Chinese undertake. What are they, and why are they important?

Latin America: How does McCain envision our future relations with Mexico, Venezuela, and Cuba?

Africa: How does McCain envision our future relations with African nations in general and with Sudan in particular?

McCain now talks about two pressing global problems: nuclear proliferation and the environment. What, according to McCain, is “the mistaken assumption behind” the NPT? Does he have a specific nation in mind? “The next US president must convene a summit of the world’s leading powers…with three agenda items.” What are those three items”?

What are the elements of McCain’s “national energy strategy”?

McCain titles the last section of his essay “Preparing to Lead.” How will McCain enhance “America’s economic leadership in the globalized world of the twenty-first century”? How does McCain characterize America’s ”unique form of leadership”? Specifically, it is the antithesis of—what? In what resources are “we” (there’s that troubling pronoun again!) especially rich? In what ways are we “a special nation”? “As president, what will McCain “seek”?

What did James Madison, “almost two centuries ago” identify as “the great struggle of the Epoch”? “Many thought that this struggle ended with the Cold War, but it did not,” McCain says. What are the “new guises” this struggle has taken on?

What did Thomas Jefferson say about America? According to McCain, what will be “the surest source of security and peace for the century that lies before us”? McCain ends the essay by assuring us that he is ready to do what?

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Renewing American Leadership
By Barack Obama

From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2007

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Last year the influential journal Foreign Affairs, published by the Council of Foreign Relations, asked the presidential hopefuls of both parties to write essays in which they set out their vision of what American foreign policy should be, the vision that they would implement should they become president. This essay contains Obama’s vision and this one McCain’s. We’ll look first at Obama’s essay, then at McCain’s and then compare and contrast the two.

In Section I of his essay, Obama says that “At moments of great peril in the last century,” former American presidents such as Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy managed to do two things for the American people. What were those two things? They also, according to Obama, “ensured” something. What? How specifically did FDR, Truman, and Kennedy achieve these multiple goals?

Obama now says that in this century, the threats we face “are at least as dangerous as and in some ways more complex than those we have confronted in the past.” What are those threats? Confronted by these new and unconventional threats we must not “give way to pessimism,” Obama says, but must act, and we must act according to a new vision “that draws from the past but is not bound by outdated thinking.” As an example of outdated, conventional thinking, Obama adduces the response of the Bush administration to 9/11. What, according to Obama, was “conventional” about that response?

According to Obama, what is the “mistake we must not make” after the “thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent” in Iraq? Quite the contrary we must rededicate ourselves to what “mission” specifically? To put the same thing in other words, what is America’s “great promise and historic purpose in the world”?

Obama begins the next section by saying that “in order to “renew American leadership in the world,” we must first do what, specifically? And what must we do to achieve that goal? What else must we do in the Middle East? Specifically, what must we do in regard to the “growing threat” posed by Iran?

IN the next section, “Revitalizing the Military,” Obama sketches a plan for revitalizing and “enhancing” America’s military capabilities. What are the elements of that plan? “Enhancing our military will not be enough,” Obama says. Just as important is the use to which the commander-in-chief will put America’s overwhelming military power. How does Obama intend to use our revitalized military force?

How does Obama intend to halt “the spread of nuclear weapons, material, and technology”? Note his remarks concerning Russia and Iran. In what ways, specifically, must we seek “the active cooperation of Russia”? We must also “prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons”? Why? And how specifically can we achieve this goal?

Obama now talks about one of our truly “global” problems: terrorism. Where, according to Obama, must we focus in our fight against terrorism and what, specifically, must we do in these places? However, he cautions, “vigorous actions” in these places, though necessary, will not be sufficient “to defeat al Qaeda.” What else must we do, at home and abroad? Note especially the last two paragraphs. What are some of the elements that Obama would include in his “comprehensive strategy to defeat global terrorists”?

In the next section, Obama speaks of old alliances that need rebuilding and new ones that need to be built. What old ones does he emphasize and how would he revitalize and reform them? He also speaks of a looming threat other than terrorism that needs a global response. What is that threat and how does he intend to meet it?

IN the last two sections of the essay, Obama returns to the animating idea of the essay: America as a global leader: “Our global engagement…must be guided by a clear sense of what we stand for.” How must America behave in order to “build a better, freer world”? America must, he says, “commit to strengthening the pillars of a just society.” What are some of those pillars, and why must America commit to strengthening them in foreign countries? How will Obama go about realizing this aim? What statement by JFK does he adduce in support of this commitment?

What must the next president do “to restore the Amrican people’s trust,” in his foreign policy goals? Obama now speaks of “the next great American story.” What are the elements of that story? What pronoun does he use repeatedly in this paragraph? The use of this pronoun I find very troubling. Why, do you think, I find his repeated use of this pronoun troubling? Obama signs off by reminding us that “We can be this America again.” What America is that, specifically?

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