Here are eight questions relating to U.S. policy in Iraq that John McCain must answer:
1). John McCain's Republican friend and ally, George W. Bush, lied to the United Nations and violated international law by refusing to seek a use of force resolution prior to invading Iraq. Aggressive war is never "legal" and sovereign governments cannot be overthrown just because a U.S. president desires "regime change." Where does John McCain stand on Bush's behavior regarding international law in the run up to war?
2). The wholesale violation of the Geneva Conventions, the torture, secret prisons, Guantanamo, the suspension of habeas corpus, "extraordinary rendition" of suspects to countries that torture, and the warrantless surveillance of Americans by the NSA and private companies constitute some of the Bush administration's systematic and grotesque violations of the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution. Does John McCain understand that such unlawful and immoral practices, which Bush "justifies" as part of the "Global War on Terror," are moving the United States toward destroying the very values we are told that we are allegedly protecting?
3). Some of our closest allies are aghast at the U.S. belligerence in Iraq. The invasion and occupation have weakened the alliance currently fighting in Afghanistan and has led allied governments to hesitate before joining the U.S. in other multilateral endeavors. The leaders of many nations today fear their own public's backlash against them if they become too closely associated with American foreign policy. How would John McCain reassure our allies that the U.S. has not chosen a path that cares little about world opinion or the interests of our traditional allies?
4). The U.S. occupation of Iraq appears to be permanent. (Indeed, McCain has talked about keeping American troops in Iraq for a century or more.) The illegitimate occupation of Iraq scares off nations that might under different circumstances be interested in investing time and money in Iraq. These parties do not want to be seen as aiding and abetting an illegal military occupation and know that any contracts signed with Baghdad while under occupation are of dubious merit under international law. What would McCain do to change this situation, reassure foreign investors that the U.S. does not intend to control Iraqi resources (in particular, the 112 billion barrels of oil), and lure in vital non-U.S. investment to help rebuild Iraq?
5). The Iraq war has divided the American people. Opinion polls consistently show that the majority of Americans want to see an end to the occupation. A divided nation is a weakened nation and this comes at a time when McCain tells us that we are in the midst of an epic struggle for our very survival against international terrorism. The lies and deceit about Iraq's WMD capabilities leading up to the March 2003 invasion also damaged the credibility of the U.S. government. How would McCain begin to unite the country and restore the government's credibility while he continues the occupation of Iraq?
6). The fear-mongering and neo-McCarthyism of McCain's friends among the "duct tape and plastic sheet" Republicans helped produce extremely bitter and divisive elections in 2002, 2004, 2006, and appear to be ready again for 2008. The Republican scare tactics have undermined rational political discourse by creating a climate designed to play on people's emotions and instincts instead of reasoned debate. What would McCain do to give the American people greater confidence that we can have a healthy debate between the political parties without divisive tactics that ultimately weaken the country?
7). Right now George W. Bush is trying very hard to tie the hands of the next president by cementing "status of force" agreements with the al-Maliki government in Iraq. He is bypassing any role of the Congress in negotiating these binding agreements that if successful will leave U.S. troops in Iraq in perpetuity. Does McCain plan to carry on with this course where Bush leaves off?
8). Finally, how is it that "conservatives" (including McCain) who normally do not trust the government to run a public school down the street, now believe, as McCain clearly does, that federal bureaucrats can transform an entire nation in the alien culture of the Middle East?