Why McCain? He gets it!

He doesn't suffer from moral relativism in current phase of conflict.

us special 2 224 (photo credit: )
us special 2 224
(photo credit: )
OPINION Now that John McCain's whirlwind visit to Israel is history, it is time to reflect on what was said and what was not. Taking advantage of his recent primary victories that all but assures him of his party's nomination, the Cinderella candidate must now await the outcome of highly personal and not very substantive slugfest between Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In previous columns we have discussed why from a Jewish and Israel perspective, both Democratic candidates are highly problematic. The question remains, "Why McCain?" There are two principal reasons to vote for any candidate: his policies and his persona. In this column we have focused on Israel and the Jewish perspective, both of which militate strongly in favor of a vote for McCain, particularly in the aftermath of his recent visit. The first thing that must be noted is that McCain chose to come to Israel at all. Originally the plan was to go to Iraq and make stops in one or two major European venues. But the very fact that McCain chose to add Israel to itinerary tells you something about the man's perspective on the Middle East and his priorities. Israel is important in his strategic thinking and that is good for Israel. Among the Democrats, and many career foreign service officers in the State Department, Israel is a sideshow that creates many problems and few opportunities for US foreign policy. Many of these people see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the source of instability in the Middle East and predict that were only Israel to make peace with its neighbors, all would be well in the region. Like most of us, McCain wants there to be peace in the Middle East, but he is under no illusions about who are the principal troublemakers in the area. He stated unequivocally during his visit that he views Islamo-Fascism as the main culprit propelled primarily by the Iranians and semi-autonomous terror organizations. He understands as well that the outcome of the war in Iraq will play a central role in determining whether the West or the Islamo-Fascists will prevail here. As one commentator recently noted, "McCain has a deep understanding of the region's strategic problems and publicly supports a nuclear deterrent for Israel." Additionally, McCain stated in a very clear and unequivocal way regarding the threat faced by Israel and the West that "the only thing worse than a military confrontation with Iran was a "nuclear armed Iran," and that the "regime must understand that it cannot win a showdown with the world." Since the dubious NIE report's release last December that cast a cloud over Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, McCain has been in the ranks of those dismissive of it. When have you heard that from either of the Democratic candidates? McCain also made clear that the constant barrage of missiles and mortars against southern Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza is utterly intolerable. He indicated that had the same thing in his native Arizona; there would be little doubt about the American response - swift and brutal. Hamas is part of the crazy-quilt of organizations financed and controlled by the Iranians aimed at weakening, demoralizing and eventually destroying the Jewish State. At the same time, McCain made it very clear that the proper response was Israel's and Israel's alone to make. There would be no dictating to Israel from a McCain White House what is necessary for her national defense and security. That, of course puts the ball squarely in our court here - where it belongs. McCain also comprehends that the struggle of the Muslim extremists against Israel is not merely a matter of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, it is part and parcel of the general struggle between radical Islam and Western civilization as a whole. It is this struggle that America has been leading since 9-11 and which it must continue to lead for the foreseeable future. It was equally significant to many including this writer that McCain did not find time in his schedule to travel to Ramallah and pay homage to Abu Mazzen, the PLO-Fatah leader nominally in control of certain areas of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Almost every world leader visiting Israel has been told that it he or she must give equal time to the Palestinians and the Israelis. While McCain reiterated his hope and belief that Abu Mazen can lead his people to a peaceful settlement with Israel, his actions showed an acute understanding of the facts on the ground. McCain did find the time to visit Sderot and commiserate with some of the victims of the daily outrage that has turned that western Negev community into a virtual ghost town. That he did visit Sderot and did not visit Ramallah is highly instructive about how the Republican candidate sees the balance of equities in this part of the Middle East. There were no laments about the vicious cycle of violence, such as we hear constantly from the U.S. State Department and the Europeans. McCain gets it - he does not suffer from the disease of moral relativism in the current chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. Another important aspect of McCain's visit was the fact that he came along with Democratic Independent Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn). The symbolism of this partnership cannot be overstated. Lieberman has been a lifelong Democrat. He was that party's nominee for Vice President in the 2000 Elections and unsuccessfully attempted to be the nominee for President of the United States in 2004. Notwithstanding his unquestioned loyalty to his Party, the Party leadership targeted him for defeat in the 2006 mid-term elections and succeeded in ousting him as the Democratic candidate for Senator. It was only because of his own courage and determination and the not insignificant support he received in the general election from Republicans and Independents, including the Republican White House, that Joe Lieberman was returned to Senate. Those same Democratic forces are now enthusiastically pushing the Obama and Clinton candidacies. Stating that it was the Democratic Party that moved too far left and not that he left them, Senator Lieberman announced that he strongly believes that John McCain is the best qualified candidate to lead the free world and therefore he endorsed the Republican nominee John McCain for President in November 2008. Lieberman and McCain view the current geopolitical reality and America's role in it in the same way. They understand that we are at a critical juncture in history and that, like it or not, America is the only power on the planet in a position to lead the West in putting down the existential threat of Islamo-Fascism. Yes - existential threat - particularly when the self-proclaimed leader of this movement, the Islamic Republic of Iran is frantically pursuing a nuclear weapons program. It is not only Israel that has cause for concern; the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, the emerging, newly liberated Iraq, the democratic regime in Turkey and the world at large is in Iran's bomb-sites. McCain gets it, it is not clear whether the Democrats do and whether either of them will be able to muster the judgment and leadership so critically needed to confront and manage the manifold threats. In fact Barak Obama stated that he intends to sit with Iran's Ahmadinejad during his first year as President. McCain is the right person for this point in history. His personal courage is unimpeachable, as is his patriotism. But he is no sloganeering jingoist. His analysis and demeanor have earned him the respect of policy-makers around the world, particularly in Europe. His personal style and his skill in negotiation will serve him and the country well during the next four to eight years. His relationship with politicians on both sides of aisle, means that he has the ability to pull the country together and begin to mend the fissures of the past, unity that will be all important as America deals with the threats from without. Unlike the Democratic candidates who are really both neophytes, McCain is a seasoned veteran of the Senate, serving since 1979 and before that serving as an advisor to the late Democratic Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, perhaps the best friend that Israel and the Jewish People ever had in the Senate. John McCain has over 35 years experience in Congress with many of those years on critically important committees such as the Senate Armed Services Committee. Barak Obama on the other hand has been in Congress three years with two of those years he has been running for president. McCain's personal conviction on domestic and international matters has earned him the reputation of being a non-conformist when core values are involved, even at the risk of alienating members of his own Party. McCain is the only viable candidate for the Presidency. As one noted Israeli commentator stated the other day: [A]s far as Israel is concerned, and in view of the candidates' current positions - no one is better than McCain. The Republican candidate is clearly more qualified than his rivals to be commander-in-chief - in theory of the American armed forces only, but in practice also of the international alliance against radical states and terrorist organizations. In the trying times that lie ahead for the United States, Israel, the region and the world, the world needs for the White House to be occupied by a man like John McCain. The writers are Co-chairman Republicans Abroad Israel