Symposium
The Netherlands

Resident Fellow
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
One is black, one is white. One is young, one is old. One is tall, one is short. Such are the differences between Barack Obama and John McCain. Commentators seem to think that the two candidates hold very, very different views of the world. Yet they are one and the same. Their choice of words and their party affiliations distinguish them, but their foreign policies do not. Obama wants to combat "global terrorism," McCain to win "the war on terror." This is a matter of style, not content.

What orders their priorities is continuity with their predecessors (despite Obama's insistence that he wants to "end the mindset that got us into war") and the simple fact of a world where America is the dominant power. This, in turn, means that whoever wins the election will choose from a much narrower range of options than his campaign speeches might suggest. If there is a crisis that directly threatens American interests and this requires military intervention, then either candidate will intervene. In 1991, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, energy flows into the American economy were imperiled, and so there was military intervention. By contrast, there is no military intervention in Sudan to save the people of Darfur because no direct threat or vital interest presents itself.

Short of that, Obama wants to boost the defense budget and so does McCain. Both view the war against terror as an urgent priority (although they refer to it by different names). Both see an America in crisis, its economy in peril at home, its global power tested by China and Russia abroad. Both wish to distance themselves from the policies of the Bush administration. Of course, one always inherits the disastrous policies of one's predecessor. The question, then, is how one deals with this. Obama says that he will withdraw from Iraq "responsibly," but a responsible withdrawal seems to be McCain's goal as well. . . .

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a resident fellow at AEI.

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About the Author

 

Ayaan
Hirsi Ali
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken defender of women's rights in Islamic societies, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992 and served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. In parliament, she worked on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and defending the rights of women in Dutch Muslim society. In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of Mr. van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. At AEI, Ms. Hirsi Ali researches the relationship between the West and Islam, women's rights in Islam, violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments, and Islam in Europe.

     

  • Email: ayaan.hirsiali@aei.org

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

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Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

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