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What's Worth Sacrificing American Lives For?

Senator Barack Obama
Senator John McCain

Summary

• Believes it is worth sacrificing American lives in defense of American freedom and American interest
• If we can prevent mass killing from happening, we should be prepared to act
• UN approval highly desirable but not necessary for us to take action

Summary

• Believes it is worth sacrificing American lives in defense of freedom and our national security interests
• Aspire to be, as Reagan once said, "A shining city on a hill"
• No other nation has shed its blood in defense of the freedom of others as America has
• Stopping genocide is worth sacrificing American lives

Obama: Well, obviously American freedom, American lives, America's national interests.

You know, I was just with my family on vacation in Hawaii; visited the place where my grandfather is laid to rest — the Punchbowl National Cemetery — and then went out to the Arizona, out in Pearl Harbor. And you know, you're reminded of ... the sacrifices that had been made on behalf of our freedom; and I think that is a solemn obligation that we all have.

I think we also have forged alliances with countries, NATO being a prime example, where we have pledged to act militarily for the common defense. That is in our national interest and that is something I think we have to abide by.

Warren: What would be the criteria that you would commit troops — to end the genocide for instance — like what's going on in Darfur or could happen in Georgia or anywhere else? A mass killing.

Obama: You know, I don't think that there is a hard-and-fast line at which you say: 'okay, we are going in'. I think it is always a judgment call. I think that the basic principle has to be that if we have it within our power to prevent mass killing and genocide — and we can work in concert with the international community to prevent it — then we should act. Now, we have to do so — we have to do so — I think that international component is very critical. We're not — we may not get 100% agreement, but...

[Warren: ... go to war without U.N. approval?]

Oh, yes, absolutely. Yeah. But I — but I — you know, I think you take an example like Bosnia, when we went in and undoubtedly saved lives. We did not have U.N. approval, but there was a strong international case that had been made that ethnic cleansing was taking place. And under those circumstances — when we have it within our power — we should ... we should take action.

McCain: Freedom. Our national security. Our security as a nation.

Wars have started in obscure places that have enveloped us. We also must temper that with the ability to effectively and beneficially cause the outcome that we want. In other words, there's tyranny and there is tragedy throughout the world, and we can't right every wrong, But we can do what America has done throughout our history, and that is: be a beacon of hope and liberty and freedom for everyone in the world; as Ronald Reagan used to quote: "a shining city on a hill."

So there are conflicts that we can't settle. The most precious asset we have is American blood and throughout our history Americans have gone to all four corners of the world and shed that blood in defense of someone else's freedom. No other nation on earth has ever done that.

But we've also succeeded in other ways. We won the cold war, as I mentioned earlier, without firing a shot because of our ideology; and that communism is wrong and evil, and we can defeat it just like we can defeat radical Islamic extremism.

Can we talk ... about the latest in Georgia ?

[Warren: Let me ask you this: what would be the criteria for which you would commit troops?]

American national security interests are threatened.

[Warren: I understand that. What about genocide in Darfur or the mass killings took place in Georgia?]

Our obligation is to stop genocide wherever we can. We all know about Rwanda. No one knows that better than you and the Saddleback Church, who have been so active.

By the way, Cindy was just there with Mike Huckabee and Dr. Bill Frist, and have seen what the women of Rwanda are doing. The women are taking charge of the future of Rwanda, because they are saying "never again". And they are doing an incredible job.

Darfur — our most respected former Secretary of State, Collin Powell, called genocide some years ago. The question is: how can we effectively stop it? And obviously we've got to do more and we've got to try to marshal the forces all over the world to join us.

I think one of the things we ought to explore more carefully is us supplying the logistics and equipment and the aid — and the African countries step forward with the personnel — to enforce a genuine cease fire. It's a very complicated situation as you know, but we've got to be committed to never saying "never again" again. Never.

[Warren: What about … Russia reasserting itself in Georgia and maybe now Poland. What's happening?]

I'm very saddened here to be with you and talk about a Russian reemergence in the centuries-old ambition of the Russian empire to dominate that part of the world; killings, murder, villages are being burned. People are being wantonly ejected from their homes; the latest figure is — from a human rights organization — 118,000 people from that small country. It [Georgia] was one of the earliest Christian nations. The king of then Georgia — in the third century — converted to Christianity. You go to Georgia and you see these old churches that go back to the fourth and fifth century.

My friends, the President — the President, Saakashviliis — is a man who is educated in the United States of America on a scholarship. He went back to Georgia and, with other young people who had also received an education, they achieved a revolution. They had democracy, prosperity and a great little nation.

And now the Russians are coming in there in an act of aggression and we have to not only bring about cease fire, but we have to have honored one of the most fundamental rights of any nation, and that is territorial integrity. ... the Russians must respect the entire territorial integrity of Georgia and there's only 4 million people in Georgia, my friends. I’ve been there. It's a beautiful little country they are wonderful people. They are suffering terribly now.

And there's two other aspects of this.... One of them: don't think it was an accident that the ... Presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Ukraine flew to Tbilisi to show their solidarity with the President of Georgia, because they all have something in common with Georgia: they lived under Russian domination for a long period of time.

Second of all, of course, it is about energy. There’s an oil pipeline that goes across Georgia that, up to now, had not been controlled by the Russians. And, my friend, energy, the Russians are using is a tremendous lever against the Europeans.

So keep them in your prayers. Let's get the humanitarian aid as quickly as possible to them and send the message to the Russians that this behavior is not acceptable in the 21st century.

August 16, 2008
Lake Forest, CA
Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency
Hosted by Rick Warren

Link to Source

August 16, 2008
Lake Forest, CA
Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency
Hosted by Rick Warren

Link to Source

 

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