Former KGB spymaster turned President of Russia gave his final press conference before relinquishing his position to become Prime Minister.
Russia has been supplying Iran will nuclear and missile technology. In response, the US has offered to deploy a missile shield in countries vulnerable to an attack by Iran. But Putin has decided to take it personally.
"Our generals, our security council, consider these moves a threat to our national security," he said. "We asked our partners to stop but no one listened to us. So if they continue we will have to react appropriately by retargeting our missiles." Mr Putin also made similar threats against Ukraine if it joined NATO.
The question that needs to be answered by the Presidential Candidates is how will they deal with Russia?
There is little margin for error here. Russia is not only supporting and arming our enemies they are growing their own military power. And brazenly demonstrating their capability
And then there is the elephant in the room: Iraq.
When the Surge worked, Democrats who argued against it said, "yeah but..."
"Yeah but there has been no political progress"
Well, I have argued that there has been political progress for a long time; just not the kind Democrats were able to accept. But now there is also political progress that Democrats can't deny.
Iraq's parliament on Wednesday passed three key pieces of legislation that set a date for provincial elections, allot $48 billion for 2008 spending, and provide limited amnesty to detainees in Iraqi custody.
The three measures were bundled together for one vote to satisfy the demands of minority Kurds who feared they might be double-crossed on their stand that the budget allot 17 percent to their semiautonomous regional government in the north.
Parliament cleared the way Wednesday for provincial elections this year that could give Sunnis a stronger voice and usher in vast changes to Iraq's power structure.
The new law — which set the vote for Oct. 1 — is one of the most sweeping reforms pushed by the Bush administration and signals that Iraq's politicians finally, if grudgingly, may be ready for small steps toward reconciliation.
As of the September report, The Iraqi government had fulfilled 9 of the 18 benchmarks. That wasn't enough for Democrats. Now Iraq has moved significantly beyond that.
So the question for the Presidential candidates is what will their Iraq policy be on a go-forward basis?
Perhaps we have the answer to this already
"It's not a matter of how long we're in Iraq, it's if we succeed or not," McCain said to CNN's Larry King.
"And both Sen. Obama and Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal -- that means chaos, that means genocide, that means undoing all the success we've achieved and al Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America.
"I won't let that happen."
Last month, at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, a crowd member asked McCain about a Bush statement that troops could stay in Iraq for 50 years.
“Make it 100 [years in Iraq]. We’ve been in Japan for 60 years, we’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so; that would be fine with me. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me ... if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al-Qaida is training and equipping and motivating people every single day.”
Perhaps it's denial, perhaps it's just politics, but both Democratic Presidential contender have been mischaracterizing McCain's statement
"He said recently he could see having troops in Iraq for 100 years," Clinton said at an Arlington, Virginia, rally last week in a line she's repeated on the campaign trail. "Well, I want them home within 60 days of my becoming president of the United States."
Obama took a similar tack.
"Sen. McCain said the other day that we might be mired for 100 years in Iraq -- which is reason enough not to give him four years in the White House," Obama has said on several occasions.
We need to hear serious responses from the Democratic contenders on serious issues of foreign policy.
Mischaracterizations and platitudes aren't going to cut it for a public that is already suspicious of a Democratic Party that has demonstrated itself to be not just weak, but fickle with regards to matters of national security and defense.
And then there's this
What in the world are advisers to both Senators Obama and Clinton doing in Syria in the middle of a presidential campaign — and why are the two campaigns so unforthcoming about the details of the visits? The same week that a terrorist mastermind harbored by the Baathist regime in Damascus was assassinated by a car bomb, both one of Mr. Obama's foreign policy counselors, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a long-time critic of Israel, and one of Mrs. Clinton's national finance chairs, Hassan Nemazee, were meeting with President Assad...
Where is the sense of reality about who President Assad is and what his regime is all about? To suggest, as the Syrians report Mr. Brzezinski said, that they share some kind of common interest in respect of "stability" is disingenuous. Mugniyah, whom the Syrians had been harboring, has been among the FBI's most-wanted terrorists since 1983, when he authorized the attack on the American Marine barracks in Beirut. Mr. Assad runs a police state. Dictatorships can only thrive if the population is in constant terror and convinced the state itself is all knowing.
The Democratic Presidential contenders need to demonstrate that have a sense of reality.