Friday, October 08, 2004

Updated October 8, 2004 at 3:35 pm
Obama and Keyes in a “virtual debate.” Morality, Ideology, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Russian roulette, abortion and homosexuality. Who makes you feel safer?
Barack Obama: They [the Bush Administration] made some sound decisions with respect to Afghanistan in dealing with what was admittedly a shock to the system but then they compounded it with a move in Iraq that cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives with no end in sight. So, I think one of the things that the Bush Administration, that the President has prided himself on, is the notion of staying the course, but if the course is wrong, what you want is a mid-course correction and that is something—

WGN’s Bill Cameron: So, if he [Presient Bush] is re-elected, would you anticipate another war, this time in Iran?

Obama: I think right now part of the tragedy of the War in Iraq is that it has hampered our ability to deal with threats like Iran because we are so bogged down in Iraq. Part of what is happening now is that the Administration’s ideology is bumping up against the facts. And, I think the voters of Illinois as well as the voters of the nation when they make a decision about who their next President is going to be want someone who is not driven by ideology but is driven by practical good sense in terms of how we address the challenges of the coming century.
Obama: …I think we also can anticipate what Alan Keyes is going to talk about. To his credit, he has been not bashful about indicating that he thinks the two single most important issues facing the nation are abortion and homosexuality, so I think it is fair to say that that is going to be a topic that he spends a lot of time on…
Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama speaking to the media after the Metropolitan Planning Council Senate Candidate Forum, October 7, 2004
Jeff Berkowitz: Should foreign policy be morality based, too?

Alan Keyes: I think American foreign policy always has to reflect our values, yes. That is one of the reasons why, even though sometimes you have to work with unsavory people to deal with enemies who might destroy you, we also have always had a component in our policy where we try to be on the side of those who are defending human rights, defending liberty, fighting against tyrannies and despotisms that have tried to spread horrific systems, like the Nazi system, around the world, so yes, there has to be a component that respects the fact that what do we share as a people, as Americans? We share a moral identity, a commitment to a certain idea of justice, that respects individual human worth and dignity, and that requires a system of government and laws that also respects that dignity. We can’t afford to operate in the world in a way that ignores that moral basis for who we are.

Berkowitz: Was the decision to go into Iraq, was that morality based, as well? Or, was that based on Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Keyes: The decision to go into Iraq was based on morality in the sense that you have a moral right to defend yourself from death—and [from] those who are threatening this society with imminent death through terrorist attacks. We have a perfect right to defend ourselves and we also need to join with other decent minded people in the world to preempt their activities. And, if you say, well, they didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction, the question isn’t what they found or didn’t find, but what the President had a reason to believe at the time he made the decision, and of course, it is all based on probabilities. If there is going to be an attack against Chicago, that could take, say, a hundred thousand lives, what probability of that attack would we like the President to live with? A 50% probability? 40%? Shall we play Russian roulette and make it about 16 2/3 %? Maybe a 10%? I have a feeling most people who live here would say- I don’t want any chance of that. Do what you have to do to prevent it. And, that’s what the President did.

Berkowitz: Would that same argument lead us to go into Iran?

Keyes: I think that same argument will lead us to take a strong stand and do what’s necessary against any State that makes itself an active part of the terrorist infrastructure, according to our intelligence, and that would therefore pose an imminent danger that they would feed to the terrorists those things that are necessary to do a Holocaust in America. No President has the right to ignore that possibility. In the present environment, he must move to do something about it.
Republican U. S. Senate Candidate Alan Keyes speaking to the media after the Metropolitan Planning Council Senate Candidate Forum, October 7, 2004