By Todd Gitlin
The following is the fifth post in my Questions Reporters Should Ask series. My goal for the series is to highlight questions that, to my mind and to the best of my research, the press has not asked (or at least not asked often or insistently enough) of, in this case, the Republican candidate Senator John McCain.
Questions for John McCain
1. You continue to refer to the pre-surge strategy in Iraq as the “Rumsfeld strategy.” Why don’t you call it “the Bush strategy”? Does your reluctance to do so suggest that you would, as president, refuse to take responsibility for your own strategy in Iraq?
2. You anticipate keeping American troops in Iraq for one hundred years “as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed,” in order to fight al-Qaeda. But al-Qaeda and similar jihadist groups, like the train bombers in Madrid and London, have recruited terrorists by exploiting resentment against the American presence in Iraq. Toward what end, then, do you believe that quasi-permanent American bases in Iraq are desirable?
3. More generally, is there any downside for the U.S. guaranteeing the world’s security, spending as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, and maintaining more than a dozen major military bases in other countries? How would you address any such downside?
4. Before President Bush launched the Iraq war, you said: “It’s going to send the message throughout the Middle East that democracy can take hold in the Middle East.” The war “will be brief,” you said. “I have no qualms about our strategic plans.” Why were you sure?
5. In your speech to the 2004 Republican Convention, you agreed with the Democrats that “military action alone won’t protect us, that this war has many fronts: in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence, and in diplomacy,” and that “our alliances are as important to victory as are our armies.” What would you do to mend the U.S.’s frayed alliances?
6. In 2000, you advocated “rogue state rollback,” speaking specifically of Iraq, Libya, and North Korea, and adding: “I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically elected governments.” Do you still advocate rollback in North Korea? If not, why not?
7. You urge cutting Federal spending. One of the measures you advocate toward that end is (quoting your Web site): “Allow the private sector to fulfill the needs it can meet and get the government out.” Specifically, in which areas do you propose to replace government by private programs?
8. In December, you said, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” Then, last week, on the subject of current economic problems, you said: “what we need to do, to start with, before we go any further is stop the out-of-control spending.” Why are you confident that “spending is the reason why our house is in such fiscal disorder”? Which economists advocate spending cuts as a means to fight recession?[Thanks to Michael Meyer, Matt Welch, and Mark Benjamin at Salon.]
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