Foreign Policy Also Splits Keyes, Obama

Article excerpt

Byline: John Patterson Daily Herald State Government Editor

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a six-part series running on Mondays exploring the differences on the issues in the U.S. Senate race.

SPRINGFIELD - If Barack Obama had been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he'd have voted against giving the president authority to invade Iraq.

"I don't oppose all wars," Obama said at a Chicago anti-war rally in October 2002. "What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war."

Obama, a Democratic state senator from Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, maintains the case was never made for a U.S. invasion.

On the other hand, Republican Senate nominee Alan Keyes, a former U.S. ambassador, says he would have sided with the president and voted "yes." He believes the invasion was the right thing to do.

"He moved preemptively in Iraq - acting not on the wisdom of hindsight but on the foresight that is required in order to make sure that the American people will not again suffer even worse damage from this kind of insidious attack," said Keyes, a former U.N. ambassador who moved from Maryland to Calumet City to fill a vacant ballot spot.

Their position on the war represents one of many differences between Obama and Keyes over the ongoing fighting in Iraq and foreign policy in general. From funding the fight against AIDS in Africa to requiring America's young adults to serve their country, the two candidates offer vastly differing views.

Troops in Iraq

Keyes said U.S. troops must stay in Iraq until national security, as opposed to political, objectives are met.

"I think they stay there until they get the job done," Keyes said during a recent debate. "I know that (Democratic presidential nominee) John Kerry is preoccupied with an exit strategy, but as I've been telling folks lately, if you get into a battle and the only thing you're thinking about is how to get out, I think we have a word for you - and it's not very complimentary."

Obama opposed sending U.S. troops to Iraq, but now that they're there, he said they shouldn't be brought home until the country is stabilized.

"If it is not stable, not only are we going to have a humanitarian crisis, I think we are also going to have a huge national security problem on our hands - because, ironically, it has become a hotbed of terrorists as a consequence, in part, of our incursion there," said Obama.

National service

Keyes supports a national program under which every citizen would serve two years, possibly in the military, although a variety of domestic or diplomatic assignments would qualify. …