John McCain: An Act of Belligerency?

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mccain stewart twn.jpg
Doug Bandow has a hard-hitting critique of John McCain over at AntiWar.com. McCain opponents will find it one of the best compilations of tightly wound reasons to agitate against John McCain getting the keys to the White House and the codes to the “football.”
But in the piece, Bandow also notes that McCain used to be a “reluctant warrior.” This is absolutely true. I have known John McCain for years — ever since he served on the Advisory Board of the Nixon Center of which I was the founding executive director. John McCain was not timid when it came to appropriate applications of force, but he also demonstrated a facility for strategic calculation which meant that there were usually never yes-no, bomb-don’t bomb, binary decisions but gray zone and nuanced realities to any decision.
McCain used to be the kind of leader I thought would be Nixonian in his core — and frankly, I’d feel better about Obama or Hillary Clinton if either demonstrated more of the foreign policy skill sets that a Richard Nixon had. But McCain seems to have rejected Nixonian approaches to enlightened American self-interest in the world and has become a crusader for a new phase of neoconservative-inspired interventionism.
Or alternatively, perhaps McCain’s acts of belligerency are all an act?


From Bandow’s provocative McCain critique:

John McCain is a man of experience, courage, and honor, but they are overshadowed by his vices, such as his angry temperament, his tendency to go postal against his Senate colleagues, questioning their intelligence and principles when they disagree with him. We should expect better of someone entrusted with control of the strongest military on earth.
McCain’s sanctimonious certainty is another problem. In one of the Republican debates he declared “I’m the expert” on Iraq. Yet on his most recent trip to Iraq he confused Iraq and Iran, denouncing the latter, a Shi’ite state, for training al-Qaeda, made up of Sunnis, and had to be corrected by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who was standing nearby at the obligatory press conference on the “nonpolitical” trip. Will Sen. Lieberman move into the White House along with the McCains to hover near the phone at 3am?
McCain similarly appears to share George Bush’s simplistic view of the world. Both see America threatened by numerous enemies who are all alike – al-Qaeda members, secular dictators, Palestinian terrorists, Baathist insurgents, Shia nationalists, Hezbollah fighters, Taliban fundamentalists, Hamas activists. McCain told an audience at the Virginia Military Institute last year: The Iraq war “is part of a broader struggle in the Arab and Muslim world, the struggle between violent extremists and the forces of modernity and moderation.” The extremists, he adds, “wish to return the world to the 7th century.”
Actually, most Iraqi insurgents want to drive America out of their country. Most al-Qaeda terrorists want to punish the U.S. government for appearing to wage war on Muslims – in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Most Hamas and Hezbollah fighters want to defend their respective homelands from Israeli intervention, backed by America. Lots of other people simply want the U.S. to stop interfering in their affairs. “They” all hate America, but for very different reasons.
Perhaps McCain sees no need to sweat the small stuff, like the facts. After all, he assures the American people, “the war will be over soon.” Rather like Vice President Richard Cheney’s claim – three years ago – that the insurgency is “in the last throes.”
However, the biggest problem with McCain is his philosophy. Sen. McCain once was a reluctant warrior, balking at intervention in Lebanon, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and even Iraq the first time. Today he is the most belligerent of the original 2008 presidential contenders, except, perhaps, for Rudy Giuliani. If there is a war in the world, McCain can be counted on to join it. And if one doesn’t exist, he is determined to start it.

America should not run from wars it absolutely cannot avoid — but to seek them out is national lunacy.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

10 comments on “John McCain: An Act of Belligerency?

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    John McCain, he who wishes to caveman the world into submission.
    Cavemen would not claim him though. The geico guys would have to form their own 527 just to disown McCain. They grasp nuance better than he does.

    Reply

  2. How Insane Is John McCain? says:

    Your comment made me think of a metaphor for the Bush/McCain worldview, as a board game.
    Bush appears to think of the world as a checkers game. All the pieces are either red or black. You move (invade) in only one direction, taking any piece you can. If you succeed in invading completely, you get to double up your supplies and go crazy. Strategy is simple: kill or be killed.
    Hopefully we will elect someone who views the threats to our nation more as a chess game. Where all pieces are not the same value, where you can’t always be sure of why you opponent has presented such an easy kill, where certain pieces must be protected at all costs, and where momentary diversions, and unnecessary moves can be fatal.
    Tom, this is a really brilliant comment. Very smart.

    Reply

  3. How Insane Is John McCain? says:

    The drumbeat for war with Iran is really horrifying. Not only do McCain, Bush and Cheney really seem to be hankering to start this war, how in the heck do they think we have the resources? What purpose would it serve?
    These people have a seriously distorted worldview.

    Reply

  4. Winghunter says:

    Steve;
    Why doesn’t Doug Bandow, or you, know what the definition of the term ‘Insurgent’ is?? Just for the record, an Insurgent is a combatant who traveled from some OTHER country into Iraq to fight. Therefore, the mental midgetry of his statement “Actually, most Iraqi insurgents want to drive America out of their country.” is positively mindnumbing…why didn’t you catch it?
    Why also didn’t Doug write a similar article in December when most of the stone-ignorant voters needed to know McCain’s record and past??…Of course, there were several other factors of influence but, this is a day late and a president short;
    How the Republican Party Committed National Suicide By JB Williams
    http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_19227.shtml
    Who Hijacked the Primaries? by Brett Winterble
    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=24726
    The Death of Conservatism? 43 Mistakes and the GOP’s Dobson’s Choice
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1961546/posts
    GOP Leads Astray
    http://gopleadsastray.blogspot.com/
    Further, what piece of lint in Doug’s navel was he contemplating on when he also wrote; “…but they are overshadowed by his vices, such as his angry temperament, his tendency to go postal against his Senate colleagues, questioning their intelligence and principles when they disagree with him.”
    The redundancy of this is only surpassed by its complete lack of detail.
    Does McCain demonstrate a severe lack of interpersonal skills? Yes.
    Should we show ourselves capable of our own governance in demanding candidates possess a superior level of communication skills the position clearly demands? Without question yet, none of the three have half an ounce put together.
    Then, do we throw out any semblance of reason to offer the waterboy or cheerleader be put in the game because a fourth-string quarterback is all that’s left to call on?? Not HARDLY.
    Look, both of you clowns have demonstrated a severe lack of knowledge in the myriad of correct reasons we rightly brought Hussein down wherein we then had to deal with our moral commitment to stabilize the population from their oppressive existence under genocidal tyranny as well as our strategic defense from terrorism…it takes time and resources but, you whining about it is approximately 15 years, three inept presidents and 100 points of IQ too late.
    AND I shouldn’t walk away in disgust without also thanking you for making me defend McCain, there wasn’t a thimble-full of pleasure in it.
    Finally, just in case my suspicions are correct;
    “At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child – miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill disciplined, despotic, and useless. Liberalism is the philosophy of sniveling brats.” – P.J. O’Rourke

    Reply

  5. JohnH says:

    McCain is desperate for money. He went with hat in hand to the White House to beg Bush’s support. He has adopted Bush’s rhetoric. And he’s hoping that Bush’s warmongers (read: energy/security industries) will deliver the big bucks, even though legally he’s required to limit himself to public financing.

    Reply

  6. Carroll says:

    Actually, most Iraqi insurgents want to drive America out of their country. Most al-Qaeda terrorists want to punish the U.S. government for appearing to wage war on Muslims – in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Most Hamas and Hezbollah fighters want to defend their respective homelands from Israeli intervention, backed by America. Lots of other people simply want the U.S. to stop interfering in their affairs. “They” all hate America, but for very different reasons.
    >>>>>>>>>
    And anyone who doesn’t understand the above is ignorant and those in congress who deny it are lying.
    The sight of Lieberman whispering in McCain ear in Iraq should send chills down the spine of every American. Lieberman to me is the embodiment of evil, on par with his fellow travelers, Feith, Perle,Gaffeny, Cheney and the rest of the chickenhawk and Israeli cabal.
    I console myself with the fact that if by some chance McCain is elected he will drop the last straw on our American heads and we will finally get serious about BWTTGASO.

    Reply

  7. Carroll says:

    How can we tell if McCain’s act is an act?
    Or if Hillary is an act?
    Or Obama?
    Since PANDERING to and governing for special interest became the main stragety of political candidates it’s almost impossible to tell isn’t it?
    The only thing I can figure out to do is to look for some statements they have made about their policy positions or about their beliefs or vision for and of this country (not things they promise to give to us) that have drawn fire from special interest groups and that appeal to Americans who aren’t in any single issue special groups.
    The politicans started this “electing by pandering” to special groups instead of appealing to the entire nation. So let their “acts’ fall where they may.
    They have rotted the system to the core anyway. If we happen to elect the right person it will be a miracle.
    I am disgusted with it, as are most people that I know.

    Reply

  8. Jim says:

    This expresses the problems with McCain quite succinctly, I think.
    Belligerence for the sake of belligerence as policy, “If we bomb
    them, they will fear us, and then they will see it is in their interest
    to be our friends”; combined with and fueled by an inability or
    unwillingness (again, one fuels the other in a downward
    intellectual spiral) to recognize the complexities of the world,
    particularly in regard to the geo-politics of the ME.
    It’s kind of odd that his “al Qaeda in Iran” moment sparked this
    mini-debate (mini, because his fanboys in the televised media
    refuse to recognize the importance of it), because anyone paying
    attention to McCain’s views and pronouncements on Iraq has
    known for years that the man simply has no idea what he’s talking
    about.

    Reply

  9. David T. says:

    Just thought I would point to an interesting piece by David Broder on the McCain trip. Given that Broder is still a leading establishment voice and tends not to be especially partisan, his point that however you come down on the Iraq War, the surge, and McCain’s role, he could have much more firmly established his “this is a war worth fighting for” bona fides by both publicly and privately criticizing the Iraqi government for making so little progress on self-government and reconciliation and establishing that even he would not be infinitely patient with the leadership’s inability to work out compromises and establish more Sunni and Kurdish independence in their locally dominated regions.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/19/AR2008031902778.html

    Reply

  10. tomj says:

    Your comment made me think of a metaphor for the Bush/McCain worldview, as a board game.
    Bush appears to think of the world as a checkers game. All the pieces are either red or black. You move (invade) in only one direction, taking any piece you can. If you succeed in invading completely, you get to double up your supplies and go crazy. Strategy is simple: kill or be killed.
    Hopefully we will elect someone who views the threats to our nation more as a chess game. Where all pieces are not the same value, where you can’t always be sure of why you opponent has presented such an easy kill, where certain pieces must be protected at all costs, and where momentary diversions, and unnecessary moves can be fatal.

    Reply

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