Hamas is waiting, and hoping, for an Obama victory in November. During the Doha Debates (BBC, May 27, 2008), leading Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Al Zahar categorically implied that the only way out of the current impasse in the Gaza strip would be a neutral and balanced administration in Washington.

Senator Obama can claim that he rejects any endorsement by Hamas; that, however, is not the point. The first relevant question Americans have to ask themselves is this: why are the worst religious extremists in the Middle East waiting for President Obama?

Hamas waiting is not alone in waiting for John McCain to decisively falter. Hezbollah controlled television and radio outlets in Lebanon have been making very sympathetic reference to anti-war speeches made by Senator Obama for many months now. The Ayatollahs in Teheran have not made any serious comment on the Obama agenda for Iraq, but nobody can doubt that any withdrawal of US-led troops at this juncture would only serve as a major longer-term strategic boost for Iran. On that note, it should not be forgotten that Iran has had close historical ties with the leadership of the mainstream Kurdish parties, currently allied with the United States.

The second question Americans must ask themselves relates to the serious security consequences for the West in the event that Islamic fascists begin exercising unrestricted power throughout the Middle East. The related consequences for the oil producing Gulf nations and for Saudi Arabia will be even more immediate, and certainly more dramatic.

Senator Obama rests his thesis of troop withdrawals on the assumption that the fact upon which the Iraq war was predicated have proven to be dubious, at best. That may well be so. That discussion should be left to historians and political analysts who want to write history, or re-write history as the case might be. The point is that more that nearly 200,000-plus foreign troops and military contractors are currently present in Iraq, and that their removal, albeit over 18 months, would be tantamount to an unequivocal victory, politically and militarily, for religious extremists.

Senator Obama wants to direct his focus to the high mountains of the Hindu Kush, to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cohorts. That position is fundamentally flawed on two counts. Firstly, Senator Obama has no idea where exactly Bin Laden is today, and if he is alive at all. Secondly, as American troops are now finding out, many or most of the so-called militants in the Afghanistan theatre are part of robust opium producing and drug smuggling syndicates. Of course, there is no reason for the perpetrators of 9/11 to stay hiding in the mountains if the geographical area stretching from Iran to Lebanon qualifies as an infinitely better safe-haven.

Iraq represents a dual reality: the military reality on one hand and the economic (reconstruction) reality on the other. Both aspects of Iraq deserve high priority. Rather than engaging in discussions on the qualitative nature of the pre-war intelligence, a Washington administration needs to address both challenges.

Given the military situation on the ground, there will be no reconstruction without the presence of 120,000-plus American troops Iraq, at least for the foreseeable future. And, if there is no reconstruction, the dismal state of the Iraqi economy will provide extremely fertile terrorist recruitment windows; the average Iraqi living in the villages and the shanty towns is struggling to maintain a minimum level of human dignity.

An unusually large section of the American media is doing the American voter a major disservice. Rather than repeatedly alluding the wisdom of the pre-war stance adopted by Barack Obama, journalists and anchors must demand specifics which are verifiable in the context of today. Most importantly, what are the facts upon which Senator Obama has concluded that a withdrawal from Iraq will not lead to the absolute domination of Iran for many decades into the future? Nobody should endorse the Democratic ticket without getting an acceptable and verifiable answer.