In the nonconventional, asymmetrical war against international terrorism, our strongest weapon is international cooperation. The hardest blow to jihadist organizations came immediately after the 2001 attacks on American civilians when nations all over the world froze their assets and united their intelligence agencies in an unprecedented consolidation of international police power. Even America's enemy Iran gave valuable information that helped the international coalition overthrow the Taliban by connecting them with Afghan opposition groups. We all watched this valuable cooperation fall apart when America decided to go to Iraq.
Let’s use Germany as an example. They are western Europeans who live lives similar to ours and denounce violent extremism. After 9/11, we learned that some of the terrorists' planning took place in Germany. The nation then began to take serious action in their homeland, joined the global effort against terrorism, and sent troops to Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power and hunt down al-Qaeda. But when America's focus shifted to Iraq, our NATO allies did not agree, neither did the UN. This has broken down the Germans' solidarity with America, and they have lessened their role in Afghanistan due to growing resentment of America's actions.
We need Germany as a strong NATO ally, and we need their continued intelligence cooperation to protect our homeland from another attack.
Obama's reception in Berlin makes it clear that the German people are excited about the possibility of his presidency. We could also predict that their strong disapproval of George W. Bush would be carried over to John McCain, a fellow Republican and hard-line supporter of the war in Iraq. The same situation exists in many other nations around the globe, nations that are invaluable to the struggle against international terrorism.
When American-supremacists like Sean Hannity scoff at those who show concern about our image overseas, they are overlooking our most powerful tool to combat Islamic extremism. There are many nations that America has no legal military presence in that could become a safe haven for terrorists, even if Iraq becomes a terror-free beacon of light in the middle of the Middle East. I see nothing in McCain's foreign policy plans that would help bring these straying nations to the table and earn back the valuable cooperation that was extended to America directly after the September 11th attacks. He wants to start a League of Democracies that would clearly alienate Russia and China and he continues to stand by the decision to start a war that even our North American neighbors have renounced. His leadership could easily bring about a disastrous loss of international cooperation that would allow jihadism to flourish and embolden America's enemies.
Voters who choose McCain based on the idea that he would make our country more secure should step back and take another look. They may be making a serious mistake based on a fatal misperception of the enemies we face.
McCain himself has repeatedly betrayed his ignorance on the issue he claims to be strongest on. He wants to fight terrorism, but has on several occasions claimed that Iran is helping al-Qaeda, even thought they have fundamentally opposing ideologies. He continues to show a misunderstanding of the risks of civil war between the Shi'as and Sunnis in Iraq by making it sound as if the solution is simply to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq - a seriously weakened entity that no longer has any allies in the nation. His recent statements confusing the sequence of events surrounding the surge and the Anbar Awakening, Iraq and Pakistan bordering each other, and the existence of Czechoslovakia may seem like inevitable campaign season gaffes, but stand out enough to make one question his foreign expertise. His dismissal of Iraq's Prime Minister's statements and continued support for permanent American military bases in Iraq even after Bush failed to form an agreement for America's continued deployment in Iraq show an alarming disconnect from the real situation on the ground, and a loosened grasp on the issue he has built his campaign around.
At the same time, Obama effortlessly completed his overseas trip without making the mistakes that some predicted and proved that the world is hungry for new leadership in America. Those who think that foreign approval shouldn't be an issue in our country's own election are digging themselves further into a bunker that will leave us in no position to confront the threats that are growing in the world around us.