Issues '08: The Wars
A US soldier of Duke Task Force patrols outside his base in Asad Abad at a Forward Operating Base near Pakistani border in Kunar province eastern Afghanistan, Monday, Oct 27, 2008.(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

A U.S. soldier patrols outside a Forward Operating Base near the Pakistani border in Kunar province, eastern Afghanistan, on Monday, Oct. 27, 2008. (AP)

War — in Iraq and Afghanistan — was supposed to be the defining issue of the 2008 campaign. Instead, Americans are riveted by Wall Street’s meltdown and global financial collapse. The economy ate the wars.

But the wars go on. Just today, news of fierce Iraqi turf battles. The White House maybe ready to talk with the Taliban. Spillover American strikes into Syria and Pakistan. High costs. No resolution.

John McCain and Barack Obama talk different games on the wars. Either would be seriously challenged by them.

This hour, On Point: With one week to Election Day, a basic, brutal issue: the wars.


From Washington, we’re joined by Tom Bowman, Pentagon reporter for National Public Radio. He recently reported on the U.S. search for a new strategy in Afghanistan.

Joining us in our studio is Joseph Nye, professor of international relations at Harvard University. He served as Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Clinton. He is the author of several books, including “Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics” (2004) and, most recently, “The Powers to Lead.”

And from McClean, Virginia, we’re joined by Robert Kagan, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, columnist for The Washington Post, and contributor to The Weekly Standard. He is an informal adviser to John McCain, and he served in the State Department under President Reagan. His new book is “The Return of History and the End of Dreams.”

More links:

Barack Obama’s campaign website spells out his positions on Iraq and defense; John McCain’s website explains his positions on Iraq and national security.

For differing views on the candidates’ foreign policy positions, see David Sanger’s recent New York Times article “Rivals Split on U.S. Power, But Ideas Defy Labels,” Nicholas Lemann’s New Yorker feature “World’s Apart,” and Robert Kaiser’s Washington Post article, “Iraq Aside, Nominees Have Like Views on Use of Force.”

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