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Home > India > News > PTI

Obama challenges Bush, Mccain on foreign policy

May 17, 2008 13:54 IST

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Democratic Presidential front-runner Barack Obama has challenged President George Bush [Images] and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain to a debate on the foreign policy, saying they have a lot to explain on issues like Iraq war, Iranian nuclear programme and Middle East conflict.

The challenge came on Friday as analysts said Bush's statement comparing those who want to talk to Iran with politicians trying to appease Hitler [Images] before the Second World War has given a major opening to Obama to inject himself in the debate on foreign policy at a time when the President's approval ratings are at the lowest.

His attempt would be to turn the debate around on the contention of Republicans as also his party rival Hillary Clinton that he is inexperienced in dealing with foreign leaders and policies.

Analysts said that Obama's inexperience is expected to be a major plank of Republicans who have little to show with economy going into recession and stalemate in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia's rejection of Bush's proposal to increase oil production is likely to be exploited by Democrats who could argue that it shows decreasing American influence in the Middle East.

In campaign speeches, Obama sought to blame the policies followed by the Bush administration for increasing trouble in the Middle East including rise of Hamas.

He held unpopular war in Iraq responsible for rise of influence of Iran in the Middle East and asserted that such policies are not going to work.
Obama likened policies advocated by McCain to the failed policies of Bush in his bid to emphasise that election of McCain would mean third term for Bush, a theme which is likely to repeatedly recur in the heated and no-holds-barred campaign expected for November's Presidential poll.

Accusing Bush and McCain of "fear mongering," Obama said that if elected, he would talk with leaders of countries Bush had shunned, stressing that several ex-presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, had talked to Russian and Chinese leaders during the Cold War era. But he would not talk with terrorist organisations, he added.

"I have been adamant about not negotiating with Hamas, a terrorist organisation which has vowed to destroy Israel," he said.

The White House took pains to explain that Bush was not targeting anyone and what he had said is nothing new as he had repeatedly expressed such sentiments. But that did not deter media, including television networks, to highlight the issue which could help Obama rebut the contention by Republican that he is inexperienced.

The Bush administration had avoided talking to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and North Korea's Kim Jong-il.

If Bush or McCain want to debate with him on foreign policy, Obama said, he is prepared to to do so at anytime and at any place. "That is a debate I will win because they have a lot to answer," he added.

After almost eight years, "I did not think I could be surprised by almost anything George Bush said... But I was wrong." 

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