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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Iran Missle Tests Highlight McCain-Obama Differences on Defense

Obama would "talk." McCain would build missile defense!

On the day after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a missile defense treaty with the Czech Republic Iran test fired a barrage of missiles to underscore the threat.

Such an overt and aggressive act on the part of Iran provided a perfect opportunity to gauge differences between the two U.S. presidential candidates.

Obama, who has threatened to cut missile defense (see video)just when the technology has been proven to work insists that what we need is a stronger U.S. diplomatic initiative.

After years of Democrats demanding that the U.S. not have a "unilateral" foreign policy, Obama claims that our efforts to work with allies on Iran amount to us "farming out diplomatic activity to the Europeans." Obama's idea on dealing with Iran is more talk, talk, talk and talk... Oh yeah, toss in some sanctions too.

Obama frequently cites President Reagan's successful efforts to engage the Soviet Union in arms reduction agreements. But what Obama misses from the Reagan analogy, and this is something that bears repeating, is that Reagan understood that success in diplomacy required a strong military effort. "Peace through Strength" was the mantra and it worked.

Senator McCain understand that just as the multi-lateral approach was successful in dealing with the North Korean missile threat, the same formula is the best way to proceed with Iran. "Working with our European and regional allies is the best way to meet the threat posed by Iran, not unilateral concessions that undermine multilateral diplomacy," McCain said in a prepared statement. McCain also supports missile defense.

Secretary of State Rice's treaty signing with the Czech Republic was a follow on action to the NATO alliance declaration in April to build and deploy missile defense:

Excerpt from:
Bucharest Summit Declaration
Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Bucharest on 3 April 2008
full communique

Ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to Allies’ forces, territory and populations. Missile defence forms part of a broader response to counter this threat. We therefore recognise the substantial contribution to the protection of Allies from long range ballistic missiles to be provided by the planned deployment of European based United States missile defence assets.
Talk Softly and Throw Away the Stick?

The issue of Iranian missile development offers the perfect opportunity to understand the clear differences between candidates McCain and Obama. Obama should be asked if he intends to cancel deployment of missile defense. And if so, what military component would he have to enhance his diplomatic initiative. Or, is it all talk, talk, talk?

McCain has shown that he understands the fundamental problem here. Not only does he appreciate how diplomatic and military efforts complement each other, he understands the need to bring as many of our alliance partners on board. Otherwise, they'll just cheat on the sanctions.

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