Haditha, Iraq, 16 March 2008. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Erin A. Kirk.
The sudden outbreak of war between Russia and Georgia last Friday was a glaring opportunity for the American presidential candidates to prove their worth in foreign policy. Despite it being one of McCain's strong points, both a Democrat and a Republican tell us that it was Obama who came out on top this time.
The Republican Party has always shown strong support for the small former Soviet state of Georgia, which might explain why, when the Russians responded to Georgian-initiated military action in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, President Mikheil Saakashvili called on the US for help. Unfortunately, the US was busy saving the rest of the world, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy was available and stepped in to broker a peace deal yesterday.
McCain and Obama couldn't miss out on the chance to show their electorate what they would do if their long-term enemy, Russia, started invading Europe. On Monday, McCain spoke about "severe long term consequences" for the country. Later in the day Obama followed suit, with a slightly less threatening speech.
Video © CNN
Speaking from Erie, Pennsylvania, McCain gave this speech on Monday.
Video © CNNObama responded later on Monday, from his holiday in Hawaii.
Stuart Haugen is the vice-chair of Republicans Abroad France.
If people think about it from a shallow viewpoint - which is what might realistically happen - then it will help McCain - "the world is a dangerous place and we need someone strong". But if they think through the implications, then Obama will seem like a much safer option. And they might wonder why Bush and Rice gave more encouragement than they should have had to Georgia anyway.
However, despite all of this, my suspicion is that people in the US are not even thinking about it - they're just watching the Olympics."
Crystal Fleming is an Obama supporter and social researcher at Harvard University. She currently lives in Paris, France.
The average American doesn't even know where Georgia is - they think it's a US state. People are more concerned about the economy and wars that we're currently engaged in - Iraq and Afghanistan."
Nana Sajaia is a Georgian national living in the US. She was hoping to return to Georgia in two weeks but will now wait until the situation is more stable.
Generally I prefer Obama because of his anti-war stance and sticking up for small countries. However, on this subject I don't think he can make a change. For Georgia, only the UN and international organisations can help."