12:40 p.m. “Building a Better, Safer World: What Would a McCain Presidency Do?” is the third panel today at the Humphrey Institute’s series of forums entitled, America’s Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by Nina Easton (Washington Bureau Chief, Fortune). The panelists are:
* Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
* Robert C. (Bud) McFarlane (President, McFarlane Associates, Inc. and former National Security Advisor to President Reagan)
* Ambassador Robert Portman (Former Director, Office of Management and Budget, former United States Trade Representative)
* Ambassador Richard Williamson (Special Envoy to Sudan)
12:55 p.m. Easton says there has been a growing consensus that military means have to be complemented by other means to effectuate other U.S. interests around the world, such as trade interests.
1:01 p.m. Ambassador Williamson says the top 3 foreign policy priorities in a McCain administration would be dealing with the growing Iranian challenge in the Middle East and its effect on the resolution of the Iraq War, the growing military strength and trade implications in dealing with China, and the growing threat of Russia.
1:05 p.m. Lieberman jokes that if Hubert Humphrey were still a leader in the Democratic Party he would not be at the (Republican) Convention — as Humphrey also embodied a ‘muscular foreign policy.’ Lieberman believes the role of free trade will help millions grow out of poverty, and thus use this ‘soft American power’ as one of the tools to combat radical Islam. However, Lieberman says there are simply ‘evil’ people in the world and that they can only be dealt with by ‘arousing fear’ or dealing with them head on. Lieberman says McCain will also make diplomacy a priority in his administration.
1:07 p.m. It should be noted McCain received a rousing applause (whether out of appreciation or respect) from the audience after Easton referenced Lieberman’s speech at the RNC last night.
1:10 p.m. McFarlane talks about the problems with the education of young children and adolescents (especially in Pakistan) and that McCain understands that a decent education system is needed in these countries to give more options to these children to be something other than a day laborer or a terrorist. He says we need to spend “more than the pittance we do right now” in these countries.
1:15 p.m. Lieberman says the U.S. has a much better reputation around the world than people think – especially in Asia – where the U.S. serves as a buffer between nations that do not trust each other. As such, American involvement in the education system across the world would not be met with as much resistance or suspicion as one might think, he says.
1:20 p.m. Portman says that trade is ‘the single best weapon we have’ to help our foreign policy interests. Portman emphasizes not only the importance of U.S. trade with Islamic countries, but also opening up trade between these nations. Economic freedom ‘almost always translates into political freedom,’ he adds.
1:23 p.m. Lieberman says the Democratic Party has changed significantly in just eight years on key issues, such as free trade, and that is part of the reason he could be the VP nominee in 2000 and now supporting the GOP nominee in 2008. He adds that McCain knows trade is a very convenient ‘scapegoat.’
1:26 p.m. Ambassador Williamson says giving advice to McCain on foreign policy is like giving advice to Tiger Woods on golf.
1:29 p.m. Lieberman says prior to 9/11 he would have said the foreign policy challenge for U.S. interests in this century would be our relations with Asia and economic and trade interests with that region. China and Russia are following a foreign policy that is mercantilist and frustrating U.S. interests (e.g. their economic relations with Iran).
1:36 p.m. Lieberman says there does need to be an exit strategy in Iraq, but, with regards to what strategy there are two scenarios: 1) if there was nothing more the U.S. could do to achieve our goal of helping Iraq to become a self-governing country and 2) when the United States achieves that goal.
1:38 p.m. Lieberman closes by touting McCain’s extraordinary experience in foreign policy. He says his experience is ‘unmatched.’
1:44 p.m. McFarlane says getting off foreign oil is a top priority for John McCain. He says we need to find a new way to run our cars our trucks – and that we have the technology now to do it.
2:01 p.m. McFarlane says McCain has studied Reagan and how to deal with our enemies. He believes McCain will not be jingoistic and overextend our U.S. military by, for example, sending our fleet to Georgia. But, he adds, McCain will take important steps to try to change Russia’s behavior, such as denying them entry into the World Trade Organization unless it ‘shapes up.’ He will focus on the financial vulnerabilities of Russia as a means of soft power to effectuate positive change. McFarlane says the next generation of Russian leaders will be much better, but that this generation – including Putin – are self-serving ‘thugs’ who act without the interests of the Russian people. He said Russia “is a third world country when you get ten clicks outside of Moscow.”