I backed President Clinton for two Presidencies, I backed Al Gore; I backed John Kerry; I like and admire Senator Obama, but feel that he is being badly under served and misdirected by the very people who embarrass the Democratic Party.
I have determined to support Senator John McCain as the only Leader in America who can win the war on Islamist terror - it is not Iraq, not Afghanistan; it is a global war on Islamist terror and the Iranian Rerror Leader,its very face, spoke at Columbia on Monday.
Here is how John McCain leads in his own words.
Bolster Troops on the Ground
A greater military commitment now is necessary if we are to achieve long-term success in Iraq. John McCain agrees with retired Army General Jack Keane that there are simply not enough American forces in Iraq. More troops are necessary to clear and hold insurgent strongholds; to provide security for rebuilding local institutions and economies; to halt sectarian violence in Baghdad and disarm Sunni and Shia militias; to dismantle al Qaeda; to train the Iraqi Army; and to embed American personnel in Iraqi police units. Accomplishing each of these goals will require more troops and is a crucial prerequisite for needed economic and political development in the country. America's ultimate strategy is to give Iraqis the capabilities to govern and secure their own country.
Implement New Counterinsurgency Strategy
For most of the occupation, military strategy has focused on securing all of Iraq by establishing bases and conducting short operations from them. Ultimately, this secured only small areas of the country. John McCain believes the current force structure and power vacuum persisting in many areas of the country demands a more robust counterinsurgency strategy. Iraqi and American forces must not only use force to clear areas occupied by insurgents but to stay and hold these areas to deny them as a base for insurgent forces and allow economic and political development to occur in a secure environment. By emphasizing safety of the local population, this strategy will create strongholds in which insurgents find it difficult to operate.
Strengthen the Iraqi Armed Forces and Police
Speech on Iraq at VMI
Watch video from the Speech on Iraq
John McCain on Navy SEAL Mark Robbins
Building a capable Iraqi army is a central requirement for ensuring Iraq's ability to govern and protect itself long after American forces have withdrawn. The U.S. must accelerate the training and equipping of Iraqi armed forces and police to enable them to play a key role in securing Iraq. Only in a secure environment will the development of Iraq's political and economic institutions have a chance to succeed. Ultimately, Iraq's future lies in the hands of its people, government, and armed forces, and strengthening them is an essential requirement for bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq. Until Iraqi forces are ready, however, a precipitous U.S. withdrawal would condemn Iraq to civil war and intervention by its neighbors and energize al Qaeda and other jihadists across the globe. This would gravely jeopardize American security.
Create the security necessary for political progress and stability
John McCain believes that only by controlling the violence in Iraq can we pave the way for a political settlement. But once the Iraqi government wields greater authority, it will be incumbent upon Iraqi leaders to take significant steps on their own. These include a commitment to go after the militias, a reconciliation process for insurgents and Baathists, more equitable distribution of government resources, provincial elections that will bring Sunnis into the government, and a large increase in employment-generating economic projects.
Accelerate political and economic reconstruction in a secure environment
While it is crucial to focus military efforts on insurgents, particularly against Sunni fighters using violence to strengthen their political position, John McCain believes there must be a greater emphasis on non-military components promoting economic development and representative, accountable governance.
In territories newly secured by the "clear, hold, and build" counterinsurgency strategy, many of the critical steps to succeeding in Iraq can begin to be implemented. Massive reconstruction can go forward without overwhelming fear of attack and sabotage. A substantial employment program can begin to give hope and opportunity to Iraqi citizens. Political meetings and campaigning can take place more freely. Average Iraqis will be more secure as militias and terrorists are reigned in and violence reduced. All of this will help civil society to emerge and deepen.
"In Iraq our national security interests and our national values converge. Iraq is truly the test of a generation, for America and for our role in the world. Faced with similar challenges, previous generations of Americans have passed such tests with honor. It is now our turn to demonstrate that our power, ennobled by our principles, is the greatest force for good on earth today. Iraq's transformation into a secure democracy and a force for freedom in the greater Middle East is the calling of our age. We can succeed."
-Senator John McCain
Iraqis need to see tangible improvements in their daily lives or support for the new government will falter. Sunnis need to know that if they abandon violence they will have a role in the political process, and the Shia need to know that security will be provided by coalition and government forces - not by private militias. Kurds need assurance that their gains will not be jeopardized by sectarian violence. All Iraqis must be able to look forward to a future of growing security and prosperity overseen by a competent, representative government free of corruption and sectarian conflict.
Keep Senior Officers in Place
The Pentagon has adopted a policy of rotating our generals in and out of Iraq almost as frequently as the rotating of troops. John McCain believes this to be a deeply flawed practice. If these are, in fact, the best leaders for the task, they should remain on the job as long as possible. These generals and other senior officers with experience possess critical situational awareness and expertise necessary to prevail.
Call for International Pressure on Syria and Iran
John McCain believes Syria and Iran have aided and abetted the violence in Iraq for too long. Syria has refused to crack down on Iraqi insurgents and foreign terrorists operating from within its territory. Iran has aided the most extreme and violent Shia militias, providing them with training, weapons, and technology that they have used to kill American troops.
The answer is not to enter into unconditional dialogues with these two dictatorships from a position of weakness. The answer is for the international community to apply real pressure to Syria and Iran to change their behavior. The United States must also bolster its regional military posture to make clear to Iran our determination to protect our forces in Iraq and to deter Iranian intervention in that country.
Win the Homefront
If efforts in Iraq do not retain the support of the American people, the war will be lost as soundly as if our forces were defeated in battle. A renewed effort at home starts with explaining precisely what is at stake in this war to ensure that Americans fully understand the high cost of a military defeat. The war in Iraq is at a crossroads and the future of the entire region is at stake - a region that produced the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11 and where much of the world's energy supplies are located. Success is essential to creating peace in the region, and failure would expose the United States to national security threats for generations. Defeat in the war would lead to much more violence in Iraq, greatly embolden Iran, undermine U.S. allies such as Israel, likely lead to wider conflict, result in a terrorist safe haven in the heart of the Middle East, and gravely damage U.S. credibility throughout the world.
The American people also deserve to know that the path ahead will be long and difficult. They have heard many times that the violence in Iraq will subside soon - when a transitional government is in place, when Saddam is captured, when elections are held, when a constitution is in place. John McCain believes it is far better to describe the situation just as it is - difficult right now, but not without hope. The stakes for America could not be higher.
John McCain on Leadership
"Increasing U.S. troop levels will expose more brave Americans to danger and increase the number of American casualties. When Congress authorized this war, we committed America to a mission that entails the greatest sacrifice a country can make, one that falls disproportionately on those Americans who love their country so much that they volunteer to risk their lives to accomplish that mission. And when we authorized this war, we accepted the responsibility to make sure those men and women could prevail. Extending combat tours and accelerating the deployment of additional troops is a terrible sacrifice to impose on the best patriots among us, and they will understandably be disappointed when they are given that order. Then they will shoulder their weapons and do everything they can to protect our country's vital interests in Iraq."
- Senator John McCain