Undoubtedly an important day tomorrow and an important election year (then again, when hasn't it been?)
So what are the important issues that we need to scrutinize the candidates on? Rather than simply endorse a candidate, I'll ask some questions and leave you dear reader to try and answer them yourself, in my stab at being non-partisan for now.
The War on Terror, Operations in Iraq, diplomatic relations with Russia, Pakistan, possible intervention in Sudan, international aid giving, Guantanamo bay, are a few hot button issues which are undeniable interlinked. Although an ad hoc approach is necessary to deal with immediate issues as they arise, a holistic approach is necessary if we are looking to stop the bleeding at its source rather than slap a few band aids on the problems.
The war in Iraq has garnered the most attention from the candidates as a results of voter interest, though we much look beyond the simple statements of get out or stick it out, and see what the greater Middle East and really international relations strategy is. Both Democrats and Republicans can agree that all things being equal peace is preferred to war, and it would be best for US troops to be unnecessary in Iraq. Of course senators and representatives on the left and right side of the aisle will disagree when a pull out can or should occur, though they are in agreement that out is the eventual goal. (Or at least out for the most part). So how will out for the most part be achieved? Pull the troops out now one one side or train Iraqis and pull out only as quickly as continued stability and democracy will allow on the other. Much like the agreement that certainly troops out at some point, democrats and republicans can agree that stability and democracy is preferred to other options. These somewhat at odds goals in the short term are certainly goals to look to in the longterm. And how to achieve them? Diplomacy and military are two broad levers to use, with international aid and covert actions two respective manifestations.
Iraq not an insular problem but an international web of relations with it as the center.
The center of the web deserves attention, though so does the rest of the web too. Diplomatic pressures elsewhere in the world, trade embargoes, military bases in geopolitically strategic places (Iraq for instance...) aid giving, development, trade relations, clandestine interventions, covert action, military buildup, muscle flexing, overt military action, withholding of aid, pressure points... The list goes on. To achieve strategic success (dominance?) in Iraq and elsewhere, the above named tools will be utilized around the world. Does your candidate have a strategy outside of Iraq, or perhaps one of the many suffering from degrees of myopia.
A case study of Iraq: A few of the players
Iran: Remember the Iraq Iran war? Iran looking to increase its reach. Iran looking to be the dominant player in the Muslim world. (think about, what country dominates)
Russia: Why has Russia been flexing? To look gorgeous or increase its sphere of influence. Russia would love to be the dominant non-Middle East player in the region just like the USA
Britain: A long time ally. Wouldn't want to alienate the states. Looking to join NATO. Relations strengthening further.
Saudi Arabia: Iraq could be a buffer between the Kingdom and Iranian aggression.
Israel: Need to understand that dynamic a bit more
European Union: A rival to the US, an ally? Who wouldn't want more influence in the world
Eastern Bloc: US allies, Soviet allies?
Turkey: Kurdistan? No way! certainly strategic interest in how things play out.
Terrorists: Talk about an international network of money and relations. Iraq not a launching pad for caliphate but certainly instrumental in advancing that agenda.
What a grand old mess of interests. Fix Iraq in Iraq? Of course not. Pull out or stick it out? We have to look farther than that. Is your candidate doing that?