- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 6, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

Sen. John McCain should be the next president of the United States. He is wrong on many issues - global warming, campaign finance-reform and immigration (to name a few). But on the central challenges of our time, he has demonstrated the judgment and courage necessary to be the leader of the Free World. In comparison to his Democratic rival for the White House, Sen. Barack Obama, the Republican maverick is clearly the better man - and the better candidate.

Iraq has dominated our politics since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Mr. McCain consistently supported a strategy for victory. President Bush´s mistake was not in waging war; rather, he failed to formulate a policy that would simultaneously achieve our political and military goals. As the insurgency intensified and the American body count increased, antiwar Democrats and even some in Mr. Bush´s inner circle (such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) called for a troop withdrawal.

In the face of this defeatist sentiment, Mr. McCain led the charge to bolster our military presence. He rightly argued that the key to success was to launch an effective counter-insurgency. The goal: cripple al Qaeda and the forces still loyal to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Pacification, combined with a rejuvenated Iraqi army, would establish security and stability - the basic preconditions for a viable democratic society to take root.

The troop surge has been a huge success. It resurrected Mr. McCain´s candidacy, which pundits (including myself) claimed was dead during the Republican primaries. The United States is now on the verge of a historic victory.

If the terrorists are defeated and Iraq becomes a self-governing democracy, the Arab world will be transformed. Iraq is the Germany or Japan of the Middle East - the strategic linchpin to wider reform. Its oil wealth, geographical location, rich cultural heritage and multiethnic, multi-religious character make it a potential model for the region. Its success will inspire people in other sclerotic, authoritarian Arab states - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria - to embrace political and economic modernization.

A democratic Iraq will form the heart of a new Middle East - one that provides a real alternative to the nihilism of radical Islam. A McCain triumph in November will represent a decisive step toward defeating Islamofascism.

More important than Iraq, however, is the issue of abortion. It is the seminal moral question of our time: Do innocent unborn babies have rights - especially the most precious and fundamental of all, the right to life. Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, nearly 50 million babies have been killed. Abortion is state-sanctioned infanticide. Roe v. Wade codified the pernicious principle that an entire class of human beings - unborn children - are less than fully human, and therefore not entitled to equal rights under the law. Just as slavery classified blacks as chattel or the Nazis decreed Jews as “subhuman,” the liberal regime asserts that fetuses can be discarded in the womb.

Abortion is the greatest evil of our time. It represents a cancer on our body politic, eating away at our moral legitimacy and national purpose. It is the most monstrous manifestation of what Pope Benedict XVI has called the “culture of death.” Nothing - not scaling back the size of government, slashing taxes or cutting sweet-heart trade deals - comes close to the need to eradicate the scourge of abortion.

Mr. McCain has consistently voted against abortion rights throughout his career. He is pro-life. More importantly, he has vowed that, as president, he will nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court. As it currently stands, the high court has a 5-4 liberal majority. This, however, can change during the next president´s term. Several liberal justices are on the verge of retiring - the most obvious being Justice John Paul Stevens, who is nearly 90.

Pro-life conservatives are on the brink of what they have worked decades to achieve: repeal of Roe v. Wade. A McCain presidency means conservatives will finally capture the citadel of liberal social activism. For this reason alone, Mr. McCain deserves to occupy the Oval Office.

Mr. McCain is the very opposite of Mr. Obama. The Arizona Republican is a battle-hardened war hero, who spent five years being tortured in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. On the other hand, Mr. Obama is a vacuous, antiwar leftist. He champions appeasement abroad and milk-toast socialism at home. His call for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would snatch military defeat from the jaws of victory. On abortion, he is to the left of many in his own party. Mr. Obama even supports partial-birth abortion. If he cannot honor the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers or defend innocent, vulnerable human life, he is not worthy to lead this great nation.

A contest between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama is no contest. American voters must reach the same conclusion.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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