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McCain Vs Obama: In Defense

By James Donahue

In this series of articles examining the platforms of the two presidential candidates, we examine what the two parties are offering in the area of national defense. This is especially significant since the Bush Administration has extended our present military to its limit and beyond while fighting two wars in the Middle East.

Republican John McCain boasts that his experience as a Navy pilot and a former prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict, and his work on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, make him the most qualified to succeed George W. Bush as Commander in Chief. But McCain supports a continuation of the wars and makes it clear that he will not bring American troops home from Iraq until we have assumed a clear “victory” in a three-sided civil war in Iraq that many military experts agree cannot be won.

McCain supports building a stronger military, going on with the Bush plan for developing a costly and outdated missile defense system to protect America from “rogue states” like Iran and North Korea, and supports an independent 9/11 Commission “to identify how to best address the terrorist threat and decrease our domestic vulnerability.” He boasts that he was an early supporter of the Department of Homeland Security and creation of the U.S. Northern Commission.

McCain gives no plan for finding the money needed to accomplish all of the above, except for “reforming the defense budget.” And his website offers no details for carrying out his plan, other than continuing in the same rut the Bush Administration has been following for the past seven years.

Obama lays out a detailed plan, but like McCain, and because of the Bush Administration’s costly spending spree for the past eight years, appears to lack the resources to accomplish it.

He maintains that America’s national security structure needs to be updated from the old one designed after World War II to meet the demands of the Cold War with Russia. He correctly asserts that our present military is stretched and strained to the maximum and lacks the resources needed to provide the defense it is being called upon to provide.

Obama proposes increasing the size of the army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by another 27,000 troops. He also calls for restoration of the National Guard and Reserves. The rebuilding of the armed forces, he says, should be a complete remodeling of special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations and other units and capabilities that include foreign language training, cultural awareness and intelligence capabilities. He also calls for providing the equipment needed to fight in wars at home and abroad.

His plan would include the creation of a Military Families Advisory Board to provide “a conduit for military families’ concerns” and end the Bush Administration’s “stop-loss policy” of keeping troops in combat indefinitely.

Obama also would create a Civilian Assistance Corps of 25,000 professionals that would include doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agricultural specialists and others to offer a pool of volunteer experts willing to deploy at home or abroad when their services are needed.

And finally, Obama’s platform calls for strengthening our alliances with NATO and other allied nations for provide a common goal of suppressing terrorism and working collectively for world peace.