Six days to go until we elect the man who will have to deal with the inevitable crises of the next four years.
Senator Joe Biden was not off the mark when he pointed out that world will test the next president. The world’s intent to challenge the United States is already clearly evident. These tests will not even be manufactured, as Biden suggested, except for, perhaps, the test caused by the consequences of retreating from Iraq before that country is ready to care for itself without our help. Instead, these tests will be the natural extension of the forces at play in the world as it already is.
In Iraq, the test will be whether we do what is necessary to ensure the stability and longevity of that fledgling Arab democracy that just now possesses the tools to properly care for itself. This test will involve continuing to balance the religious and ethnic tensions that threatened to plunge Iraq into civil war as well as dealing with the continued meddling by nations like Iran and Syria in Iraq’s internal affairs. Further, this test will involve the world watching to see if we can finish something we started for the first time since Vietnam.
In Iran, the test will be how the next administration deals with a nuclear armed Iran. I believe that Iran will demonstrate its nuclear capability within the next 24-36 months unless its development program is preempted by Israel. This test will inevitably involve armed confrontation as well as dealing with the delicate sensibilities of the Muslim world. This test could very well involve the first use of nuclear weapons since World War Two.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan–I include them together because they are now inexorably linked– the test will involve preventing the collapse of both countries into fundamentalist despotism after the government of Pakistan is overthrown by fundamentalist forces. Central to this test is Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons and the potential for immediate conflict with India. Further, this test could also involve tens of thousands of Western military personnel being trapped inside Afghanistan when it occurs.
These test are but three of the many the next president may face. Other tests will come from China, North Korea, and Russia, each with the potential for explosive consequences if they are mishandled. The next president will have to be a foreign policy president whether he is ready on day one or one-hundred-one.
The question on November 4, then, is who do we want in the White House to face these tests on January 20, 2008. Would we rather have a president whose preoccupation seems to be with socializing our way of life or a president who has already demonstrated his resolve to fulfill the presidency’s primary Constitutional calling of defending the Republic against its enemies.
Without a doubt, my vote is for the latter. My vote is for McCain.