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Walking away is unrealistic

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By John Barnhart

John McCain isn't a crazy man, as Rick Howell suggested in last week's Liberal Agenda. Unlike the "Democratic" Party's far left, John McCain is a realist.

We can't simply walk away from what we've gotten ourselves into without consequences. This is something that McCain understands, something that the lefties can't grasp.

Maybe they can grasp it, but just don't want to. Mr. Howell, for example, has advocated twice this year that we walk away from military commitments in East Asia as well as in Iraq.

We keep a significant force in South Korea because North Korea is ruled by a wacko. This boy could decide to reunify the Korean peninsula by force and we need to keep a sufficiently powerful force there to stop him. This force makes it highly unlikely that he will try.

Of course, we could just abandon South Korea to its fate. We could also abandon our commitment to Japan's defense and let them fend for themselves. North Korea greatly disturbs Japan, especially with its nuclear pretensions. Japan has the technological capacity to quickly develop nukes of its own, along with the missiles necessary to deliver them, should the country feel threatened.

This, in turn, would greatly alarm China. A look at relations between China and Japan during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th makes it clear why China's leaders feel that way. Anything that Japan does that looks even remotely militaristic upsets them. Imagine what effect a Japanese nuclear arsenal would have.

China would most likely react by taking actions that would alarm Japan. What a recipe for disaster two nuclear powers, fearful of each other, would make! We, in turn, would be deeply and negatively affected, if these guys ended up turning their part of the world into toast.

Our presence in South Korea and our commitment to Japan's defense are key to stability in the area.

A few weeks back, Mr. Howell, in writing about military commitments that he believes unnecessary, mentioned Iran, stating that Iran can take care of itself. Yes, Iran can take care of itself and that is precisely the problem.

Iran is still a diplomatic, rather than a military, issue. Christopher Hitchens recently wrote an article that appeared in World Affairs and was reprinted, in a shorter form, in the February 19 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Hitchens notes that Iran is prone to devastating earthquakes, with multiple fault-lines running under Tehran. He suggests that we make a public commitment to help Iran protect its population centers. We would offer technical expertise along with an offer to inspect nuclear facilities that would pose a radiation threat if damaged by a major quake.

Whether or not this works, we are still at a point where there is a chance to persuade that country's leaders that a recklessly assertive foreign policy coupled with nuclear weapons development could be a disaster for them.

Iraq is a military situation. We broke Iraq and we have a moral duty to fix it as best we can, something that will probably take years to accomplish. Meanwhile, we are in a war there that requires combat boots on the ground, lots of combat boots. There is no high tech zap the bad guys from a safe distance way to fight it. McCain knows this and that is what prompted his comment to which Mr. Howell referred.

It's unfortunate that this means that there will be more headstones in Arlington marking the final resting place of a fallen warrior. McCain understands this too ? better than most of us because he's been in combat himself. He suffered permanent physical injuries as a result. To this day he can't comb his own hair because he can't raise his arms above his shoulders.