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Comments

Justin Hinchcliffe

I think it's probably time for Giuliani to concede defeat. He was, though, right to enter the race. He would make a wonderful V-P to John McCain. What a ticket! Simon Burns, hang your head in shame!

Malcolm Dunn

Delighted that McCain has won and hope you're right about the momentum to take him to the nomination. With him as the candidate the Republicans have a fighting chance which I don't think they would have had with another candidate.
I must say that what seems to put off the 'base' in some Republican circles makes him attractive to me (climate change agenda and campaign finance reform) and that which they like (a gung-ho foreign policy)makes me question him a bit. But still my favourite candidate.

Jonathan Powell

I'm disappointed for Rudy, but better McCain than Romney. A McCain-Giuliani ticket would be appealing but I think McCain might be better advised to go with Thompson, since he has more street cred with the Republican base. Hopefully, Giuliani would be offered a top job in a McCain administration.

Tony Makara

If McCain is put up against Clinton or Obama he will lose. I am very concerned with McCain's foreign policy. This might resonate with certain voters who are excited by the idea of an aggressive America, but serious voters will see his foreign policy as being bellicose, particularly in relation to dealing with Iran. I fear too that many in the higher echelons of the Conservative party would be too deferential to McCain and back up any future attack on Iran. We would be back to Blair and Bush all over again. Its hard to dislike John McCain. On a purely personal level his is affable and has the bumbling charm that made Ronald Reagan so popular. However beneath the warm disposition there lies a danger. John McCain as president would set the world on a retrograde path, just at the time when the west needs to be building bridges.

Ben Rogers

So, Tony, your preference is to appease al-Qaeda and other Islamists, and all dictators, is it, in the hope of a quiet life?

Sean Fear

"If McCain is put up against Clinton or Obama he will lose"

He will lose, or you want him to lose?

The evidence suggests that he has a fighting chance against either of them.

Louise

Unlike Tony I think only McCain could beat Clinton or Obama. He cannot be characterised in any way as an extreme right-winger and will appeal to many of the non-aligned voters, crucial for the Republicans if Obama is the Democrat candidate.

Tony Makara

Ben Rogers, my preference is to engage groups like Al-Qaeda to try and understand their grievances and work out a solution. The west has allowed the situation in the middle-east to fester and now, propelled by the Iraq war, it has spilled onto our streets here at home. The root cause of all this has been the United States support for Israel. What started as an anti-Israeli movement has now developed into anti-western sentiment. Now I'm not anti-Israel, I want to see the Israeli people able to live in peace and with secure borders. However there has to be a settlement that can win the support of all players in the region. The way forward ultimately has to be through diplomacy and trying to strike up a rapport with groups like Al-Qaeda.

Adam in London

If McCain wins the GOP nomination (still by no means a done deal) he is not going to pick Rudy Giuliani as his running mate. Giuliani brings nothing to the table - even he thought they didn't want him in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, and I would suggest Hillary Clinton has New York and California sewn up in the General. All that would be achieved is leaving the southern GOP base out in the cold - not the best of ideas.

McCain could choose Romney in a 'unite the party' theme, or Huckabee in a deliberate sop to the evangelicals. Romney may make a better fit than Huckabee - his trump cards are sound economics and the unconventional conservatism of bringing universal healthcare to Massachusetts. More likely McCain will pick one of the current crop of Republican Governors, people like:
Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota
Haley Barbour of Mississippi
Sonny Purdue of Georgia
Charlie Crist of Florida

Fred Thompson would make a decent Attorney-General.

Tony Makara

Adam in London, a McCain/Giuliani ticket could also be portrayed as looking too old by a relatively younger and more dynamic looking democrat pairing.

rightsideforum

"my preference is to engage groups like Al-Qaeda to try and understand their grievances and work out a solution."

And that is your problem Tony, you are so very out of touch. The quoted sentence is so very stupid and unrealistic. With no dis respect intended, it could only ever be spoken by a naieve liberal.

Do tell us what we have to negotiate with a group that seeks to destroy our way of life, blow up children, use children to carry out terrorism and spread the islamic flag above our national buildings?

With regard the presidential race - two new polls today both put MCain several points above both Hillary and Obama.

Obama has no chance in the south, and Hillary would be tied down fighting liberal states against a McCain/Rudy ticket.

I have been a long term Rudy fan, and am gutted that he has fallen so short.

McCain is a good man, a real patriot with many years political experience and would be the best candidate to take on the Republican ticket.

Tony Makara

rightsideforum, you have two choices. You either try and engage the groups and find a way to end the violence or you continue with the current approach. You kill some of them, they kill some of you, and the corpses pile up as you go around in a circle. You will not defeat Al-Qaeda. They are not a faction like the Baader-Meinhof gang. Al-Qaeda is a movement. A socio/religious movement with the ability to recruit thousands of activists and millions of passive supporters. The only way forward is to address the reasons why Al-Qaeda exists. Al-Qaeda is not a group of fanatical madmen. Their movement is run by highly intelligent thinkers and clerics. There is no black and white here. George Bush says "you are either with us or with the terrorists" but it isn't that simple. A movement like Al-Qaeda is complicated, its rationale and its objectives are complicated. There is no quick-fix. A movement that can recruit thousands with ease and have those recruits willingly die for its aims cannot be defeated militarily. The only way to end Al-Qaeda is to end the reasons for its existence, those reasons are many and complex. However the west must try to understand Al-Qaeda. Otherwise the killings will continue, without end.

Malcolm Dunn

I also don't think you're living in the real world if you seriously believe the west could have sensible negotiations with Al -queda. They don't want anything we could possibly give them.
If McCain wins I hope he pursues Al-queda with skill and with everything that is available to him but does not get involved in sideshow wars as Bush did with Iraq. The Iranian question is something else. Iran will be an infinitely harder nut to crack than either Iraq or Afghanistan. An engagementy with the more moderate elements within that country appears to me to be the best solution.

Ben Rogers

Tony Makara, you have clearly profoundly mis-understood al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups. I have some sympathy with your opinion in regard to Israel and the Middle East, both in and of itself (we need to seek a peaceful solution, for the sake of all involved), and because I agree that the Palestine issue is used by extremists as a recruiting tool. However, to say that "my preference is to engage groups like Al-Qaeda to try and understand their grievances and work out a solution" and then that "the way forward ultimately has to be through diplomacy and trying to strike up a rapport with groups like Al-Qaeda" strikes me as the most absurd level of naivity imaginable. These are not people who want to strike up a rapport ... they want to impose the Caliphate, their extremist political totalitarian militant brand of Islam on everyone, moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It ultimately has nothing to do with Palestine, Iraq or Kashmir or anywhere else - if these issues didn't exist, al-Qaeda would find others to use as excuses for terrorism and hatred. Read Ed Husain's book The Islamist - that will wake you up. We need to work closely with people like him - not have cocktail parties with bin Laden.

Tony Makara

Malcolm Dunn, its very difficult to undo animosity that has developed over decades. What began as a regional dispute and anti-Israel is now global and anti-western. A movement that has had decades to grow, to develop a philosophy, a lifestyle, a global infrastructure cannot be defeated in military terms. What is needed is a new approach. This will have to happen but can't happen under George Bush and certainly won't happen if John McCain becomes president. The mistake politicians often make is that they deal with the effect of a problem rather than its causes. For sure the military can mop up pockets of Al-Qaeda support but there will always be more, they can damage the operational structure, but it will be replaced. The movement that carries Al-Qaeda is too vast to suffer mortal damage from punitive military action. After this generation has passed another generation of avengers will spring up, the problem will not go away until the reasons for the existence of Al-Qaeda go away. The longer the diplomatic approach is ignored the larger the problem will become. What I say is unpopular because it means accepting that the west has to admit its past errors, but sometimes in life we have to make a mistake to learn from it.

Tony Makara

Ben Rogers, do you believe that the British and American governments does not send feelers out to Al-Qaeda through third parties in a non official capacity? History has taught us that such non official contacts are the beginnings of conflict resolution.

Ben Rogers

Tony, what you propose now is very different to "striking up a rapport" and "engaging" al-Qaeda through "diplomacy". Also, what do you mean by sending out "feelers"? If you mean finding out who might be willing to peel off and switch sides, then yes, good idea - if there are ex-Islamists among them who want to get out, we should try to help them, though difficult. But if you mean talks about talks ... well, al-Qaeda is very different from the IRA. The IRA had a stated political goal that could be conceivably achieved through peaceful political means ... and negotiated. With al-Qaeda, Tony, you appear to be wishing to negotiate away our values of personal freedom, respect for human rights, religious freedom, women's rights, human dignity and the rule of law. If you want to give all that up and accept full blown Shari'a, be tortured if your beard isn't long enough or if your wife (wives) isn't (aren't) wearing a veil, or executed if you convert from Islam or refuse to convert to Islam ... that's your choice, but don't sign all our death warrents.

Tony Makara

Ben Rogers, its important for people to understand that government is a lot more than the rhetoric of elected officials. Our government, and the US government will certainly be looking to make contact with elements close to Al-Qaeda to see what possibilities there might be for striking up dialogue along non-official channels. This always happens. Granted the situation with Al-Qaeda is different from that of the IRA, however it is a mistake to think that the thinkers and more pragmatic elements within Al-Qaeda aren't open to approach to see if a way forward can be found. Sadly, many in the west, including politicians, believe Al-Qaeda to be driven by fanaticism. This is a mistake. They have zeal yes, but are capable of working with the west as the Mujahideen did during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, for all its vitriol and bloodlust will have an intellectual core who understand that Jihad cannot go on indefinitely. They will talk to the right type of people making the right approach. One thing is certain, if a solution isn't found to resolve the situation things will not improve. There will be continual social entropy and a decline in community relations, a fifth column will develop in Britain and in other lands, in fact we are already well on our way to that now.

Joanna

With all due respect, Tony, (yes, I know that phrase usually prefaces something truly unforgivable:)), Al-Qaeda is an extremist group whose goals are not appeasable. The Mujahideen--both more and less fundamentalist--had a clear goal: let's get the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda also has a goal: to create a new Arab caliphate. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has been attempting to form the new Caliphate in Iraq--or rather they were trying until the Anbaris kicked them out. We can't compromise with them without giving up rights that aren't ours to trade away. This, of course, is ignoring the fact that they are mass murderers, torturers and the scourge of any country they happen upon.

P.S. America was able to get along with the Mujahideen--I don't remember their having any great mercy on the Soviets.

mamapajamas

Tony, as the others have said, Al Qaeda is VERY different from other groups.

After WWI, because they sided with the Kaiser, what was left of the Ottoman Empire was broken up. Numerous studious works by Islamic loyalists immediately began publishing papers and books on the topic of re-establishing the Caliphite. Further, they have every intention of seizing back "Andalusia" (ie: Spain), and from there going on to establish a worldwide Caliphite.

This is not a guess nor is it a political theory, this is what they SAID they are doing.

This movement is called the Muslim Brotherhood in North Africa, and Al Qaeda is a fighting arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

If you will recall, Osama Bin Laden sent a letter to the People of the US via the UK Guardian. They published it, Google it.

Like virtually ALL Arabic "speeches" OBL's letter to the US is loaded with flowery words and the typical "grievances" concerning Israel (although OBL never mentioned a word about Israel or Palestine when he declared war on the US in 1998). The true MEAT of the letter indicates that, in order to have "peace" with Al Qaeda, the US MUST:

Execute all of our elected official (including the local city councilmen)

Convert to OBL's perverted version of Islam

Accept Sha'aria law and destroy the US Constitution

Those terms are what OBL considers "compromise". OBL's one and only goal is to establish a world-wide Caliphite with himself in charge. That was also Saddam's goal. That was made clear in his long-winded speeches during the Gulf War. They had radically different approaches, but the same end goal... re-establishing the Caliphite with themselves in charge. Same situation in Syria... someone there wants to be the Caliph.

Other Muslim countries are not cooperating with this goal because they are set up in nice, cozy shiekdoms where they're getting preposterously wealthy from oil revenues. The reason these fanatics are regarded as "allies" in this mess is because they do NOT want the Caliphite re-established... they'd loose their cushy rulership of their current nations.

The Caliphite is the ONLY dividing factor between those Muslim nations who are allies and those who are not. Pay better attention next time.

Read OBL's letter for yourself... Google it.

Tony Makara

Joanna and Mamapajamas, I think it would be a mistake to believe that Al-Qaeda is totally fanatical. Often language is used to attract the fanatical follower, however within A-Qaeda there will be thinkers and I dare say even pragmatists who would be willing to negotiate with the west. Otherwise the Al-Qaeda strategy is as much a dead-end as the attempts of the west to destroy that strategy. What results is a classic impasse. Al-Qaeda know that they cannot realistically achieve their wider objectives, but this 'grand vision' does pull idealists and radicals into the movement, so it is promoted as a recruitment tool.

The realists in Al-Qaeda know that there must be an end-goal. The west needs to build bridges with the islamic world and that means respecting their religion and culture. All I ever seem to see in the western press is abuse directed at Muslims, these are a deeply religious people who use their faith as a code to live by, so when cartoons appear mocking their faith they feel as if they are under personal attack. The west needs to respect Muslims and work to win the respect of Muslims. Otherwise the world will continue to experience dreadful bloodshed. A way to find peace and a mutual respect must be sought.

Malcolm Dunn

Oh Tony! Who are the moderate realists in Al-queda? I have read a lot about this subject and am about as far from a neo con as it's possible to get but I think you are completely,completely mistaken about these people.

Tony Makara

Malcolm Dunn, as one of the more thoughful commentators on Conservative Home I'm sure you must realise that the moderate elements are unlikely to come forward as long as the west pursues an imperious approach. So long as the Neo-Con ideologues hold sway there is little prospect of any progress. A more reconciliatory approach will give the more pragmatic thinkers in Al-Qaeda an opportunity to state their case. Reaction produces reaction, reconciliation can open the doors to dialogue. Thats why its important to have the right approach.

mamapajamas

Tony, this may come as a surprise to you, but I do NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, think OBL is an "idealist". What he IS is a political opportunist and a fanatic, not much different from Saddam. His goal is to be the Caliph, just as Saddam wanted. If he has to use religious fanatics to accomplish that, that is what he'll do.

He tipped his hand when he declared war on the US in 1998 and never once mentioned Palestine OR Israel.

OBL's original problem was US troops in Saudi Arabia, and the fact that we're "infidels". That was the ONLY things he had against the US when he declared war in 1998.

His little problem was that he was exiled from Saudi Arabia for trying to foment a revolution there (they would have saved the world a lot of grief if they'd followed their usual practice and executed him). The presence of US troops in SA before and after the Gulf War was his Big Complaint because the presence of the troops was protecting SA from his Al Qaeda operations. They were crimping his style.

After the war in Afghanistan got going, there were numerous anti-war rallies in Europe. I clearly remember them. THAT was where OBL got the impression that the Palestinian issue was important in Europe, and THAT was when he added that on to his "list of things to complain about." He cared not one whit about Palestine... never uttered a single word about it... until AFTER the anti-war rallies started up in Europe. Then all of a sudden Israel was his "top" issue.

No, the man's an opportunist who also has a fanatical bent to his religion.

Please try to follow this.

In 1990, Saddam invades Kuwait. The world goes into a hissy-fit, especially the US and MOST especially the Gulf States.

Saddam immediately started doing these two-hour speeches lionizing the UNITY of the Islamic world.

THAT was what stampeded the Gulf oil states into insisting on help from the West. They saw the stamp of a Caliph wannabe in those speeches.

THAT is the real reason the US led the charge into Kuwait, and that is ALSO the real reason the US later led the charge into Iraq. Saddam never gave up his Caliph wannabe ambitions, which first showed up in his invasions of Iran, and he lied through his teeth every time he came into contact with anyone from the West. He lied to diplomats, he lied to the UN inspectors, he lied to the UN... that was 90% of the problem with the "Sanctions"... Saddam was dealing with a marked deck from Day One.

This is ALL ABOUT the Caliphite.

What is the POINT of having diplomatic relations of any kind with people whose religious beliefs tell them that it is perfectly OK to lie to an infidel? That treaties are something you sign in order to get a breather to rest and resupply your troops until the next war? I'm talking about the Muslim Brotherhood fanatics here, not everyday Muslims. The only thing that will be accomplished by diplomats will be a treaty that only one side will feel obligated to adhere to. Period.

Joanna

And, additionally,

There are many moderates in Islam, but the reason they're not speaking up is not because the West is acting imperiously--it's because they don't want themselves or their families to end up dead. It was my privilege this year to study the Qur'an under an expert on Muslim democrats, and he said pretty flatly that moderate Muslims risk death if they come out against Al-aeda and against radical Islam. Call it 15% moderate, 15% radical, and the vast majority unwilling to make a stand--as of now. If anything, America's job in Iraq right now can be characterized (and has been characterized) as "keeping the bad guys from killing the good guys."

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