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McCain or Obama: What the Stakes Really Are

Meditations (Spirituality) - From Martin LeFevre in California

McCain or Obama: What the Stakes Really Are

After the Russian invasion of Georgia, the media in America lathered praise all over John McCain about how right he had been regarding Russia. But before the arguably insane McCain has the laurel of sagacity placed on his cancerous head, let’s consider his true character.

During last year’s commemorations of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, during which, we now know, the world came within a millimeter of all out nuclear war, McCain was asked how he would have reacted.

President Kennedy showed tremendous restraint in refusing to bow to the pressure from the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff to bomb and invade Cuba. No one outside Cuba and Russia knew that tactical nuclear weapons were armed and ready, under local command, and would have been used against invading American troops.

The reporter half-jokingly asked McCain, “If you had been president, you would have invaded, triggering an all-out nuclear war, wouldn’t you?” McCain laughed, and replied, “Yup.”

The West, led by a fickle America that has been patting itself on the back since the collapse of the USSR (denying an equally evident internal collapse of the US that occurred at the same time), has been making one stupid move after another with regard to Russia.

The idea that “we won the Cold War” has kept the NATO alliance going--an alliance that was exclusively designed to contain the Soviet Union Until it became involved in Afghanistan, NATO had no purpose. Now it has a purpose; it has become mired in Afghanistan.

The cartilaginous European Union, following behind America even after the Bush Administration could no longer deny the enormity of its mistake in Iraq, now has its own prestige and coherence at stake after wading into the tar pit of Afghanistan. Of course, if it’s a real war the Americans and NATO want, they might still have one in Ukraine or Poland.

Ignoring the depth of Russian pride, and the importance of zones of influence to empires (especially prostrate ones), the United States embarked on a policy of poking the Russian bear until it reacted in Georgia.

The thought of McCain on one side and Putin on the other does not send chills of a new Cold War down the spine; it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Do people really need to be reminded that America and Russia still have thousands of nuclear warheads aimed at each other’s cities?

Given these two ‘leaders,’ we won’t be so lucky to have a return to the good old days of a stable, predictable Cold War. Not when one of these nationalists thinks that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. And the other is still thinking inside the box he was held in for five years by the Viet Cong, swearing that America will never “surrender” in Iraq

What if the Kenyan-American is elected? Obama answered my question about whether he was a different kind of politician when the first thing he did after clinching the Democratic nomination was come out to the right of the Supreme Court on the death penalty. But he would still be an immeasurably better president than McCain.

Obama says, “I intend to be on the winning side and have more power than the other side in terms of making the best judgments about where I think the country goes.” The flaw in this calculus is that he sees “power as decisive,” when in fact power never leads, but always follows.

If you listened to Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver as an American, he struck all the right chords and covered all his bases. But if you listened to Obama’s speech in the context of the division, conflict, and fragmentation facing humankind as a whole, he failed to inspire, or even inform.

The phrase ‘global village’ used to be a sentimental way of describing a monumental trend. Now it’s a quaint expression describing an overwhelming fact.

Given that reality however, is the path to cohesive nationhood through national identity, or is the path to national cohesiveness in our global society through a political philosophy and architecture based on the unassailable premise that humanity must be put first?

Barack Obama thinks outside the box, but he’s still confined in one, the box of ‘my country first and last.’ And if he thinks he can beat McCain in that shrinking arena, we might as well go back to building bomb shelters.


- - Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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