Candidates should tackle Iraq war, international affairs, migration

As the first presidential debate nears, I hope that the foreign policy discussion goes to fundamental issues. On the war, McCain has tried to frame it as a debate about who was right on the military surge. We really need a debate on the entire issue of the war and the U.S. position in the world. The staggering economic and diplomatic costs of violating our principles and any reasonable concept of international law, or just war ethics by unilaterally starting a war on a country that had not attacked us, was no significant threat to us, and, as it turned out, wasn't even developing the weapons we accused them about — that should be a central issue. What is the serious evidence about whether it has diminished or actually increased terrorism?
 
Beyond that, if it is our mission to make our nation and our allies safe in the world and to spread democracy, we must be able to win the confidence of our allies and to convince the discontented around the world not only that we will resist aggression but that we have powerful ideas and values that offer them a better path to realizing their dreams. In that sense, the current administration has thrown away decades of hard-won credibility and bipartisanship, multinational efforts against totalitarian and fascist regimes, and made ourselves seem as a go-it-alone bully that obeys no rules, that is hostile to the world's second largest religion, and thinks it can do whatever it wants wherever it wants. I think that there must be a serious debate over how the U.S. can win back what it has lost in the past eight years and how it can build much stronger international alliances and institutions.
 
The current world financial crisis makes it totally obvious that the world's dominant economic institutions are international and that nation states cannot adequately control them and that the U.S. position as being the world's best market and safe haven for money from insecure economies and political systems across the world have been lost in a period of reckless deregulation that may now cost us and our grandchildren as much as the war and will encourage nations and investors across the world to put their money somewhere else. How can we get rules for business that work internationally and how can we regain the credibility we had as the great center of well-run capitalism, with institutions that can be trusted and regulation that keeps them honest and transparent?
 
The third international question I'd like to see discussed is migration. All over the world there is massive migration and the U.S. would be facing a future of aging and shrinking population like Japan and much of Europe if it were not for massive immigration. Yet we have what can only be seen as a chaotic policy, creating economic union with Mexico and Central America, using undocumented workers in the millions with almost no sanctions on employers, threatening milllions of workers and their families without documents but with American citizen kids, and trying to solve it with a giant wall along one of the world's longest borders , a wall separating people who have millions of close family contacts and where the economic difference on opposite sides of the border are among the most drastic in the world. We've heard a lot of doubletalk and obfuscation about this--what is the long-term vision for immigration policy in a country where Latinos are the largest minority and are interwoven into every aspect of our economic life? What are the domestic social consequences and the effect on our standing in Latin America of the current raids and attacks on immigrant workers?
 
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