Description: Internet Question #2 - Russia
Candidate: Sen. Obama
Question: How can we apply pressure to Russia for humanitarian issues in an effective manner without starting another Cold War? ]
BROKAW: Senator Obama.
MCCAIN: It will not be a re-ignition of the Cold War, but Russia is a challenge.
BROKAW: Senator Obama? We're winding down, so if we can keep track of the time.
OBAMA: Well, the resurgence of Russia is one of the central issues that we're going to have to deal with in the next presidency. And for the most part I agree with Senator McCain on many of the steps that have to be taken.
But we can't just provide moral support. We've got to provide moral support to the Poles and Estonia and Latvia and all of the nations that were former Soviet satellites. But we've also got to provide them with financial and concrete assistance to help rebuild their economies. Georgia in particular is now on the brink of enormous economic challenges. And some say that that's what Putin intended in the first place.
The other thing we have to do, though, is we've got to see around the corners. We've got to anticipate some of these problems ahead of time. You know, back in April, I put out a statement saying that the situation in Georgia was unsustainable because you had Russian peacekeepers in these territories that were under dispute.
And you knew that if the Russians themselves were trying to obtain some of these territories or push back against Georgia, that that was not a stable situation. So part of the job of the next commander-in-chief, in keeping all of you safe, is making sure that we can see some of the 21st Century challenges and anticipate them before they happen.
We haven't been doing enough of that. We tend to be reactive. That's what we've been doing over the last eight years and that has actually made us more safe. That's part of what happened in Afghanistan, where we rushed into Iraq and Senator McCain and President Bush suggested that it wasn't that important to catch bin Laden right now and that we could muddle through, and that has cost us dearly.
We've got to be much more strategic if we're going to be able to deal with all of the challenges that we face out there.
And one last point I want to make about Russia. Energy is going to be key in dealing with Russia. If we can reduce our energy consumption, that reduces the amount of petro dollars that they have to make mischief around the world. That will strengthen us and weaken them when it comes to issues like Georgia.