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Where do the prez candidates stand on war and militarism?

[ Editor’s note: In New York, Cynthia McKinney will be on the Green Party line for President on Row H. Cynthia McKinney’s web-site is: www.runcynthiarun.org ]

from Voters for Peace

There are many things for peace advocates to be concerned about regarding Obama. He has said he admires the foreign policy of Reagan, Bush I and JFK – all strong militarists. Obama also wants to expand the U.S. military by 92,000 additional soldiers, and he pledged to the right-wing Israeli lobby that he will always keep the military option. While Obama gets loud applause when he pledges to begin to end the war in 2009, the details of his withdrawal plan show an ongoing war, not an end to war. Obama has said he will remove “combat” troops, saying that it may mean putting them somewhere else in the region like Kuwait where they can serve as a strike force in Iraq. As to non-combat troops, advisors have estimated between 35,000 to 80,000 remaining behind to protect U.S. interests, fight al Qaeda and train the Iraqi military. And, when asked about the private security forces like Blackwater, fairly labeled mercenaries by some, he said he would leave all 140,000 of them in Iraq. Thus, Obama’s withdrawal plan leaves 175,000 to 220,000 troops and mercenaries in Iraq, threatens to expand the war to other nations by putting combat forces in Kuwait and he keeps the bombing of Iran on the table. Obama, unlike McCain, has said he would negotiate with Iran before using military force but both have been exaggerating its nuclear capability. Obama’s campaign recently released a detailed position statement on Iraq: click here.

Americans got to see the similarities between senators Obama and McCain when they both spoke to the right-wing Israeli lobby last week. (Obama speech here, McCain speech here.) Indeed both the Washington Post and LA Times editorialized about the similarities between McCain and Obama. While there are some differences they both pledge not only complete fealty to Israel, but also a continued effort to build the Israeli military while maintaining U.S. military policy in support of Israel. Furthermore, Obama gave virtually no criticism of the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Ralph Nader put out a critique of Obama and McCain, McKinney has also been critical of the Israeli lobby and the U.S.’s blind support for Israel.

The only spark of debate has been over whether the U.S. should talk to its adversaries. But even on this issue, Obama has changed his position and McCain, according to senate colleagues, is also likely to talk to adversarial nations. When it comes to Iran, both candidates are threatening a military attack as an option.

The three non-duopoly candidates, Barr, McKinney and Nader, are all calling for a rapid end to the Iraq occupation—a position more aligned with the views of a majority of Americans. If any of them gain steam, it could pull the two establishment party candidates toward the view of the American people. Nader and McKinney have been opposed to the military attack on Iraq since before the war began. Both have also spoken at anti-war rallies and worked to end the occupation for the last five years. Barr takes a non-interventionist view of foreign policy, but favors a strong military. He is not as clear about how quickly he would get out of Iraq. Nader and McKinney both described the military budget as bloated and are calling for less military spending. {emphasis added]

Where does U.S. militarism fit into the General Election? The military has become much larger and more deeply embedded throughout the federal government. Neither of the establishment party candidates is calling for shrinking the U.S. military; indeed, both are calling for expanding the military with tens of thousands of more troops. Obama is calling for 92,000 additional troops, while McCain wants even more. The three insurgent candidates are calling for reductions. All three oppose the U.S. having 700 military bases around the world. Nader and McKinney are calling for dramatic reductions of the military budget. Once again, they will be able to pressure Obama and McCain if they start to get some traction.

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