June 17, 2007

Stowe, Vermont Writer Proposes 'The People' Frame the Debate

Note: The link above does not have permanence at the Burlington Free Press. If you're reading this weeks after the original post, the original may not be available. I have quoted parts of it below.

"So here are five questions I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to put to all the presidential candidates:
1. In their Jan. 4, 2007, letter to the Wall Street Journal, a bipartisan group including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn state that reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective. They propose setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Do you agree or disagree and why? Follow-ups: Would you support having the United States take the lead in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban and Anti Ballistic Missile Treaties? Will you support/introduce legislation to eliminate funding for new nuclear weapons programs?
2. Given our history with war, the many costs incurred and the questionable benefits or results, what concrete policies/steps would you take to move the United States in the world community away from war to resolve conflict?
3. Do you support the principle of preemptive war for all countries?
4. The United States is the largest provider of arms to the third world and developing countries. Would you support International Treaties banning small arms sales?
5. How best can the United States help the Israelis and Palestinians achieve agreement on coexistence and do this in a way that builds respect with the Arab world as well as the people of Israel?
As such questions are asked repeatedly, we can sharpen them and come up with effective follow-ups. But unless we push hard for honest dialogue about the values and intentions of our country, we will cede the terms of that dialogue to self-interested powers who will carefully frame the issues merely to get the most votes for one candidate, rather than the best country for 300 million citizens or the best policies for a world that desperately needs help finding non-violent solutions to conflict."
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Missing from the analysis in the Stowe, VT writer's reasoned appeal to readers for citizens to shape the debate for Presidential candidates is the threat posed to the U.S. and Western civilization by the Radical Islamists. Jihadists and those who would toss the world back to the Middle Ages to establish their regimes pose the greatest threat. They must not be allowed under any circumstances to control nuclear weapons. Traditional methods of statesmanship and foreign policy will not work with terrorists. I have no optimism that they can be talked out of that goal because they are on a 'mission from god.' They must be prevented using all means available.

The first question for a candidate should be: To what lengths will you go to keep nuclear weapons from Iran and other terrorist groups who desire them either to use against us or our allies?
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