Close your eyes and tell me what you see

Zach Wiita

Thursday will be the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. A child born on Sept. 11, 2001, has literally lived his or her entire life in a country at war – first with the Taliban and al-Qaida, and later with the Republic of Iraq, and, still later, with insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. A child born on Sept. 11, 2001 has lived his or her entire life in an America haunted by blood: the blood of Americans, the blood of Britons, the blood of Afghans, the blood of Iraqis. A child born on Sept. 11, 2001, a child who will turn 7 years old this week, has never known peace.

Close your eyes, and tell me what you see.

Sen. John McCain has announced that he thinks the United States and its allies ought to keep troops in Iraq for the next hundred years if necessary. He’s called for the expulsion of Russia from the G-8, the elite association of the eight largest economies in the world, and wants to undermine the United Nations by creating a “League of Democracies.” He consistently seeks to use intimidation and ultimatums to enforce America’s will on the world instead of using peaceful incentives and diplomatic might to improve situations. He consistently looks for ways to create more enemies and doesn’t try to find ways to transform enemies into friends, or dictatorships into democracies.

Sen. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has been consistently calling for a responsible redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq, with a goal of withdrawal within 16 months – a timetable endorsed by the Iraqi government. Recognizing its importance to American security, Obama has made it clear he will not renounce the most powerful weapon in America’s defensive arsenal, diplomacy, and is willing to open negotiations with any state acting in good faith. He has not renounced the use of force, either; in fact, he’s been calling for greater deployments to Afghanistan to finish the job we left incomplete when we invaded Iraq. Obama recognizes that American security depends on maintaining our alliances and good relations with the world and will restore the multilateralism that defended America so well during the Cold War and Clinton eras.

Close your eyes, and tell me what you see.

In the next eight weeks, we’re going to be faced with a choice. McCain is an honorable man, but it’s clear he views the majority of foreign policy issues as requiring the use of military force. The man would overextend an already depleted American military in the pursuit of an extremist foreign policy agenda of dualism: the belief that everything in the world is either good or bad and that anything that is bad must be treated with warfare. “Destroy it” was McCain’s answer to Pastor Rick Warren’s question about how to respond to evil. By contrast, Obama made it clear that in confronting evil, it is important we remember that we ourselves are not immune to its influence and that attempting to destroy the darkness may simply breed more evil.

What kind of country do you want to live in? A nation built on fear and war, a nation so obsessed with feeling, not being, but feeling, safe from evil that it will forsake peace at all turns and antagonize the world? A country like what we’ve become under the Bush administration – an international joke too ethically bankrupt to provide the world with moral leadership and too militarily weak to intimidate anyone?

Or do you want to live in a country that the rest of the world will respect, admire, emulate and help protect? A country that the rest of the world wants to have as its leader – and that the rest of the world is genuinely afraid of?

Neither candidate can promise with any honesty to be able to single-handedly restore America’s reputation, leadership and might. Neither candidate can provide any guarantee that he can make America strong again. But I promise you – I promise you – John McCain won’t be able to do it. John McCain, like George W. Bush, will only make us weak with his na’ve dualist foreign policy.

Close your eyes, and tell me what you see.

Zach Wiita is a senior political science and theatre studies major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].