Obama and McCain discuss the use of force in humanitarian crisis

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain discussed the role of the United States in humanitarian crisis at last night’s debate.  The holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur came up.

Highlights from Senator Obama

We may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake…

So when genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us.

Let’s take the example of Darfur just for a moment. Right now there’s a peacekeeping force that has been set up and we have African Union troops in Darfur to stop a genocide that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

We could be providing logistical support, setting up a no-fly zone at relatively little cost to us, but we can only do it if we can help mobilize the international community and lead. And that’s what I intend to do when I’m president.

Highlights from Senator McCain

The United States of America, Tom, is the greatest force for good, as I said.  And we must do whatever we can to prevent genocide, whatever we can to prevent these terrible calamities that we have said never again.

… you have to temper your decisions with the ability to beneficially affect the situation and realize you’re sending America’s most precious asset, American blood, into harm’s way.

And I may have to make those tough decisions. But I won’t take them lightly. And I understand that we have to say never again to a Holocaust and never again to Rwanda. But we had also better be darn sure we don’t leave and make the situation worse, thereby exacerbating our reputation and our ability to address crises in other parts of the world.


Watch the entire debate on CNN.

Read the debate transcript.

Joe Biden – A Champion for Darfur

I was excited to hear that Barack Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate. Biden has been a great advocate to end the genocide in Darfur. He is one of the few members of the Senate who has actually been to Darfur. According to darfurscores.org, he was “instrumental in passing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in 2006.”

This past April, he chaired a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on “The continuing crisis in Darfur.” Below is his opening statement.

For five years, the people of Darfur have suffered death, deprivation and destruction. Government forces, janjaweed militia, and rebel groups have all preyed upon civilians and the aid workers trying to help them. When the United Nations finally assumed joint control of the peacekeeping mission, hopes rose that it would make a real difference to the people of Darfur. Those hopes have not yet been fulfilled. I truly want to know: why not and what will we do to change this?

DarfurScores.org gives him an A+ on Darfur. For those curious, Obama too gets an A+. John McCain on the other hand gets a C.

Look up the Darfur score of your legislator.


UPDATE: Michael Crowley at The New Republic has a source that told him that Biden, after ending his primary campaign “vowed that he would use his Senate Foreign Relations Committee perch to hound a president Clinton or Obama into real action on Darfur.”

This is very encouraging. I’m really pleased with the Democratic ticket this year. We need this kind of leadership in the world to live up to “never again”. I wonder who John McCain will pick as his running mate…

Obama and McCain in Orange County

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain will be appearing for the first time together in Orange County. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church will be hosting a Civil Forum on Compassion and Leadership featuring the two presidential candidates.

Saturday, August 16 2008
5:00 – 7:00p

Saddleback Church
(in main auditorium)

I’m excited to hear their views on the crisis in Darfur and other major pressing issues of the day. Barbara, Carol, Patty and I will be attending. I hope you will join us.

Tickets are available starting Monday, August 4th. Visit saddlebackcivilforum.com for more details.

Tickets will now be available starting Wednesday, Aug 13th.