Leonard O Goenaga
The Georgian Crises and the Presidential Candidates
Recently, it has appeared that the once hibernating bear of the Far East woke from an extensive slumber. Although many would claim the dreadful chapter in human history of the Cold War to be over, we now enter into a state which appears to be a throwback to strained American and Russian Cold War relations. After what the Russians claimed to be a peacekeeping mission, and what the Georgians claim to be a move of Russian aggression, the Russian military invaded ‘disputed territories’ with overwhelming military force. Within a short while, the Russians quickly dismantled the Georgian military, ignored the European community, and defied commitments to cease-fire agreements. As interesting as the situation is in terms of what it tells us of the Cold War, the conflict also serves a secondary purpose: Revealing how our current presidential candidates will respond to foreign policy crises.
In analyzing both McCain and Obama in their responses, one thing becomes quite clear: The difference between the two candidates is dramatic. On one corner, McCain took probably the most political advantageous approach of responding with stern condemnation. In the other corner, Obama took a more pensive diplomatic approach, seeking the advice of his 300 or so foreign policy advisors. Although Obama tended to respond more softly, after a series of opinionated changes, Obama’s conclusive response echoed somewhat that of McCain’s. Although a measurable degree of diplomacy is desirable, the usage of a bureaucracy of foreign policy aides puts into question the decisiveness of a candidate seeking a position whose worth is in decision making.
Although the value of diplomacy is clearly opulent, it is also a valuable skill to gauge when one needs to stand firm and decisive, vs. standing diplomatic and patient. With an ever expansionistic Russia in play, and such failed diplomatic issues with Iran and N. Korea on the horizon, one could effectively argue the better approach to Russia being that of stern decisive opposition. Regardless of which of the two sides is right, and I myself would agree to that of McCain’s, the issue is none-the-less enlightening in that it gives us a sneak peak into how these two, regardless of which enters the oval office, will respond to issues of international crises.
Source (MLA, APA)
Bumiller, Elisabeth. “A Cast of 300 Advises Obama on Foreign Policy.” NyTimes.com. 18 July
Ignatius, David. “Hot or Cool on Russia?” Real Clear Politics.com. 4 Sept. 2008. 4 Sept. 2008