The international upheaval – more imagined than real – vis-a-vis the 27 December assassination of Pakistani PPP leader Benazir Bhutto has, however, called attention to the need for the leader of this government to have a clue as to what’s happening in the world. The last two democrats to advance to the White House, Carter and Clinton, had state-governorships as their experience, as did the next-to-last republican, Ronald Reagan. The last republican, besides the current president, to hold office was George H.W. Bush, who had had about all the international experience possible when he took office.
Neither Carter nor Clinton distinguished himself in handling foreign affairs. Carter allowed the U.S. military to degenerate and was too weak-kneed to extricate the 52 American hostages who languished for 14 months in Iran. Clinton and his intel-establishment seemed to sit idly by while Muslim jihad-murderers like Osama bin Laden bid fair to take over the world, bin Laden making his disastrous preparations for 9/11 throughout much if not all of his tenure.
Carter presided over the questionable Panama Canal giveaway, while Clinton managed his Somali adventure (Black-hawk Down) so badly that nations could justifiably consider the U.S. a paper tiger after 1993. Carter lost the White House, but Clinton muddled through a second term, during which American embassies were bombed in Africa and bin Laden roamed free. Clnton’s anemic missile-launch into Afghanistan and Sudan made him look silly.
Reagan learned from his mistakes. The Lebanon tragedy (220 Marines killed in suicide bombing) in 1983 was a lesson for him about the Middle East and the mindset of the Muslim, i.e., the cheapness of life and the cowardice connected to tactics (terrorism). He went on to form a military so powerful that the Soviet Union fell without a shot being fired. This helped put the quietus on Soviet clients in the Middle East as well as elsewhere such as in Cuba.
George H.W. Bush (41), with no help from a hostile democrat-controlled Congress, mobilized a half-million American GIs in 1991 to kick Saddam out of Kuwait, saving huge oil supplies, and made the rest of the world pay for his trouble. George H.W. Bush made sure his plan to feed the Somalis in 1992 did not endanger Americans. He put troops in harm’s way, but they were successful not least because the Somali troublemakers knew better than to mess with them. The next year, Clinton dropped the ball. G.H.W Bush also went directly into Panama and grabbed the thuggish Noriega, who still languishes in a U.S. federal prison. Bush-41 was the best international leader since Richard Nixon.
President Bush, also with just a governor’s experience, had no desire to mess with the Middle East militarily or to nation-build, as he made plain in his first state-of-the-union speech, but was turned around by 9/11, carried out by people who freely operated in this country during the Clinton years in flying-schools, etc. One can only wonder about what was so important in those papers his National Security chief Sandy (Burglar) Berger snatched. Bush has successfully bitten the bullet, however, and is proving that U.S. power will be respected, no matter if he stands virtually alone in his mission/determination.
What about the current pretenders to the throne? Five of the democrats have Senate experience (six, if the weird Gravel counts), with Biden probably being the most capable concerning foreign affairs. His bona fides are questionable, however, in light of his agreeing publicly with Senator Clinton that General Pretraeus was a liar. That was so dumb on both their parts as to be scary. Kucinich has been a mayor and a congressman and seems not to know what’s happening in the world.
Richardson probably has had the most foreign-affairs experience, but his promise, like Kucinich’s, to just walk out of Iraq, come hell or high water, is too off-the-wall for him to be taken seriously. None of the democrats has actual military experience. The only one to have worn a uniform is Dodd, who was in the army reserve.
Among the republicans are two with Senate experience, two with congressional experience, two with gubernatorial experience and one who’s been a mayor. McCain is head-and-shoulders above the rest in terms of international savvy. He, Hunter, and Paul have many years of military experience among them, including combat. Add that to the equation and these three rise to the top especially in a world that is as dangerous as this planet is at present. Paul is not a factor, however, as is the case with most libertarians/isolationists. He also would leave Iraq immediately, and that’s not possible.
McCain – even accounting for his age – is the person most likely to lead this country successfully in world affairs. By comparison, the democrat frontrunners pale into insignificance, Clinton with the laughable claim that being a president’s wife counts for international experience; Obama (rookie senator) in boasting that he did not support the Iraq conflict even though he wasn’t even in the Senate in 2002-03; and Edwards on the basis of one Senate term, during much of which he campaigned for president in 2004.
This is a dangerous world and only someone with the brains, experience, and the guts to face it squarely should be elected in 2008. All the democrats want to wimp out concerning Iraq and, by extension, terrorism, adopting the Bill Clinton “head-in-the-sand” posture and yammering about “can’t-we-all-just-get-along talks” with inflexible folks like Ahmadinejad. All the republicans except Paul insist on “staying the course.” The choice is easy.
And so it goes.