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Summary: After Iraq, we may be tempted to turn inward. That would be a mistake. The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew. We must bring the war to a responsible end and then renew our leadership -- military, diplomatic, moral -- to confront new threats and capitalize on new opportunities. America cannot meet this century's challenges alone; the world cannot meet them without America.
MOVING BEYOND IRAQ
To renew American leadership in the world, we must first bring the Iraq war to a responsible end and refocus our attention on the broader Middle East. Iraq was a diversion from the fight against the terrorists who struck us on 9/11, and incompetent prosecution of the war by America's civilian leaders compounded the strategic blunder of choosing to wage it in the first place. We have now lost over 3,300 American lives, and thousands more suffer wounds both seen and unseen.
Our servicemen and servicewomen have performed admirably while sacrificing immeasurably. But it is time for our civilian leaders to acknowledge a painful truth: we cannot impose a military solution on a civil war between Sunni and Shiite factions. The best chance we have to leave Iraq a better place is to pressure these warring parties to find a lasting political solution. And the only effective way to apply this pressure is to begin a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces, with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008 -- a date consistent with the goal set by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. This redeployment could be temporarily suspended if the Iraqi government meets the security, political, and economic benchmarks to which it has committed. But we must recognize that, in the end, only Iraqi leaders can bring real peace and stability to their country.
That commitment is all the more important as we contend with growing threats in the region -- a strengthened Iran, a chaotic Iraq, the resurgence of al Qaeda, the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah. Now more than ever, we must strive to secure a lasting settlement of the conflict with two states living side by side in peace and security. To do so, we must help the Israelis identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability. Sustained American leadership for peace and security will require patient effort and the personal commitment of the president of the United States. That is a commitment I will make.
To renew American leadership in the world, we must immediately begin working to revitalize our military. A strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace. Unfortunately, the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps, according to our military leaders, are facing a crisis. The Pentagon cannot certify a single army unit within the United States as fully ready to respond in the event of a new crisis or emergency beyond Iraq; 88 percent of the National Guard is not ready to deploy overseas.
But when we do use force in situations other than self-defense, we should make every effort to garner the clear support and participation of others -- as President George H. W. Bush did when we led the effort to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991. The consequences of forgetting that lesson in the context of the current conflict in Iraq have been grave.
We must refocus our efforts on Afghanistan and Pakistan -- the central front in our war against al Qaeda -- so that we are confronting terrorists where their roots run deepest. Success in Afghanistan is still possible, but only if we act quickly, judiciously, and decisively.
I will join with our allies in insisting -- not simply requesting -- that Pakistan crack down on the Taliban, pursue Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, and end its relationship with all terrorist groups. At the same time, I will encourage dialogue between Pakistan and India to work toward resolving their dispute over Kashmir and between Afghanistan and Pakistan to resolve their historic differences and develop the Pashtun border region. If Pakistan can look toward the east with greater confidence, it will be less likely to believe that its interests are best advanced through cooperation with the Taliban.
Too often we have sent the opposite signal to our international partners. In the case of Europe, we dismissed European reservations about the wisdom and necessity of the Iraq war. In Asia, we belittled South Korean efforts to improve relations with the North. In Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, we failed to adequately address concerns about immigration and equity and economic growth. In Africa, we have allowed genocide to persist for over four years in Darfur and have not done nearly enough to answer the African Union's call for more support to stop the killing. I will rebuild our ties to our allies in Europe and Asia and strengthen our partnerships throughout the Americas and Africa.
In addition, we need effective collaboration on pressing global issues among all the major powers -- including such newly emerging ones as Brazil, India, Nigeria, and South Africa. We need to give all of them a stake in upholding the international order. To that end, the United Nations requires far-reaching reform. The UN Secretariat's management practices remain weak. Peacekeeping operations are overextended. The new UN Human Rights Council has passed eight resolutions condemning Israel -- but not a single resolution condemning the genocide in Darfur or human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Yet none of these problems will be solved unless America rededicates itself to the organization and its mission.
WASHINGTON — Israel's top officials continued to brush off Jimmy Carter on Monday as he prepared to meet with Hamas chief Khaled Meshal, the first time a current or former U.S. president will have met with a recognized terrorist organization's leader.
Q: Have Republicans forgotten how to control spending?
A: Absolutely. We let spending lurch completely out of control. As president of the United States, I'd take an old veto pen that Ronald Reagan gave me, and I'd veto every single pork barrel bill that comes across my desk. And we've got to stop it and stop it now. I look forward to it.
We lost the election in 2006 because we lost our way. We began to value principle over power, and spending got out of control. Spending lurched completely out of control. Ronald Reagan used to say, we spend money like a drunken sailor. I never knew a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination of the Congress. I received an e-mail recently from a guy who said, "As a former drunken sailor, I resent being compared to members of Congress."
McCAIN [to Bush]: You seem to depict the role of the president as a hapless bystander. [Clinton] is threatening to shut down the government and vetoing bills to force the congress to spend more money. An active president, i.e. me, will veto bills and threaten to shut down the government to make them spend less money.
Bush: It’s the president’s job to make sure Congress doesn’t have the money to spend in the first place. It is the president’s job to stand up to express the will of the people, advocate and fight for a meaningful real tax cut. And that’s what I’m going to do.
McCain introduced what he is calling his "HOME Plan," which blends elements of government-backed mortgage rescue proposals by the Bush administration, the Office of Thrift Supervision, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. (Here's a look at each of those proposals.)
McCain portrayed his plan as one that uses government support to help worthy borrowers who are struggling and not bail out lenders and borrowers who got "caught up in the speculative frenzy" and who should not be spared "the consequences of their own bad judgment."
"It offers every deserving American family or homeowner the opportunity to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects the market value of their home," McCain said. "People decide if they need help, they apply for assistance and, if approved, the government under my HOME Program supports them in getting a new mortgage that they can afford."
To qualify for McCain's HOME Plan, a borrower's home would have to be a primary residence. In addition, the government would verify that the owner told the truth about his financial situation when he applied for the original mortgage and was able to make a down payment when getting his original loan, according to a campaign adviser.
Lenders would voluntarily write down the loans based on the home's current market value and give the borrower at least a 10% equity stake. If the borrower later sells the home at a price higher than the refinanced loan, the lender and the federal government each would receive a portion of the sales price. They would be entitled to as much as one third of the loan's reduction in principal.
So under McCain's plan, if a borrower owes $150,000 on a home worth only $100,000, the lender would have to reduce the loan to $90,000. The $60,000 difference in principal would be split three ways: The lender and federal government would get as much as $20,000 each, depending on how much the home sells for when the borrower moves, and the owner would get the rest.
The new mortgage would be a 30-year fixed rate loan, and the government would back 80% of the new loan.
McCain said he opposes funds to purchase homes in foreclosure and tax breaks for homebuilders - both features of a Senate proposal passed Thursday.
McCain also called for the creation of a Department of Justice task force to investigate mortgage crimes involving lending and securitizing home loans.
"If there were individuals or firms that defrauded innocent homeowners or forged loan application documents, then the punishments of the market are not enough, and they must answer for their conduct in a court of law," he said.
Originally posted by Britguy
reply to post by Sublime620
Some good points. You are quite correct in your statements about the press focusing on the inane mud-slinging. There's plenty going on behind all that which should, but rarely ever, get's reported.
I was excited when Budski showed me the political forum. Though there are not many who frequent it - at this point - politics are a passion of mine, and I was excited to find a more neutral board to discuss them on.
I do not mean that one cannot critique about who's better than the other, or who's weak on what issue. What I don't want is off-topic yellow journalism style posts.
Let's discuss based on policies and politics, and keep this thread out of the dumpster that many have fallen into.