Posts Tagged ‘John McCain’

Fareed Zakaria on John Mccain’s schizophrenic foreign policy

August 19, 2008

[Fool me thrice. Here we go again.]

Comment: I just came across this article from Fareed Zakaria that’s a few months old, nonetheless I find it a relevant critique of John Mccain’s extraordinarily belligerent and foolish foreign policy — especially in light of his aggressive rhetoric vis a vis Russia following recent events in Georgia. The fact that Americans still obsess over the possibility Barack Obama may meet with enemy foreign leaders (which in fact represents a continuum, not a break with past American foreign policy) rather than fearing Mccain’s highly disturbing vision, proves just how susceptible the American public is on issues of foreign policy. Everybody is afraid to question the judgment of a man who was tortured lest they be labeled unpatriotic — you know the story by now. If America votes this man into office we deserve him.

(Newsweek) — “On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil-but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

We have spent months debating Barack Obama’s suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain’s proposal has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous-that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers.

It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war…

The neoconservative vision within the speech is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale. The approach lacks any strategic framework. What would be the gain from so alienating two great powers? How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?

The G8 was created to help coordinate problems of the emerging global economy. Every day these problems multiply—involving trade, pollution, currencies—and are in greater need of coordination. To have a body that attempts to do this but excludes the world’s second largest economy is to condemn it to failure and irrelevance. International groups are not cheerleading bodies but exist to help solve pressing global crises. Excluding countries won’t make the problems go away.” Click for full article


On Israel, the truce and U.S. presidential candidates

June 18, 2008

(The Nation) — “John McCain says he won’t talk to Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Barack Obama might talk to Syria, but he’s having nothing to do with Hezbollah and Hamas. I guess they know something that the Israeli government doesn’t. Over the past couple weeks, it’s become increasingly clear that Israel is simultaneously, but separately, conducting talks with Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas… Hamas’ prime minister says that he expects the talks to succeed. Though neither McCain nor Obama will endorse the Egyptian-sponsored talks, the Israeli national security cabinet has backed them. I guess it’s a good thing those militant, pro-Israeli Jewish voters in Florida can’t vote in Israel…” Click for full article

Comment: The real experts, who have lived and breathed this conflict up close, have noted for years that American-Jewish supporters of Israel (though well-intentioned) are often more militant, unrelenting and naive about the depths of the Israeli-Arab conflict than Israelis themselves. Fouad Ajami, in his book The Dream Palace of the Arabs, similarly observed that many Arab expats and intellectuals living abroad often latch on to the most radical pro-Palestinian positions as a manifestation of their frustrations about the region they left, the failure of progressive movements (which they had supported) to materialize, and of their dreams which never came true.

The fact of the matter is that AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is a right-wing organization with a more extreme agenda than the Israeli government. When John Mccain and Barack Obama spoke at AIPAC earlier this month they treaded carefully within boundaries acceptable to them.

But Israel is the country at war with Hamas. It fought a brutal war with Hizbullah two years ago, and faced off with the group during the drawn out occupation following the first Lebanon War. Israel fought three wars with Syria (including many more skirmishes and large-scale battles over the years) and the two countries have never been at peace. So as a matter of principle, if talking to these foes is good enough for Israel, why can’t it be good enough for John Mccain and Barack Obama? Somebody should ask them that in their next debate. It’s difficult to talk with such vile organizations, but, unfortunately not talking to them doesn’t make them go away.

Both presidential candidates and “still president Bush” as Jon Stewart hilariously calls him, could learn a lesson in tough love from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who spoke before the Israeli Knesset this week with nothing but love and admiration for the country, but included important criticisms (over borders, settlements etc.) as one friend to another. In the United States the framework for debate is far more limited and lacks sophistication. It’s best summed up by our two choices; whether to align ourselves with Norman Finkelstein or Alan Dershowitz. I’ll take none of the above please. Mild criticism, friendly criticism, constructive criticism i.e. anything less than total support for the Israeli right wing (or to the right of the Israeli right wing) gets warped into being anti-Israel. Sarkozy is (rightly) credited with being the most pro-Israeli French president since pre-Charles de Gaulle days, but he didn’t shy away from criticizing the behavior of the Israeli government, the way Bush did in his pandering speech before the Knesset weeks earlier, which drew widespread condemnation.

It’s doubtful whether Israel’s truce with Hamas, set to begin on Thursday, will resolve anything in the longterm, but it seems like a step in the right direction at least. Historically, truces between the two sides have only resulted in temporary lulls in fighting. Then again, if violence could solve this problem there would have been peace years ago. Those opposed to the truce may take comfort in the fact that’s its failure will mean a return to the status quo. For an opposite point of view, Guy Bechor has written a quite convincing op-ed in Ynet in which he examines the geopolitical implications of the truce, ultimately concluding that Israel has made a historic mistake that will keep the burden of Gaza on its shoulders forever. Pessimists like myself don’t expect that there will ever be peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The best we can hope for are long periods of calm. A truce is a good example of that.

John Mccain’s track record on Iraq

June 12, 2008

[A casual stroll to the market, mingling with the locals]

Comment: Who but politically naive Americans (with apparently short memories) take John Mccain for an Iraq expert? Not to be critical or anything, but will somebody please tell me how a man with this track record on Iraq sells himself successfully to almost half of the country as the only candidate with enough foreign policy experience to get us out of the mess he helped create, in addition to being wrong on nearly every one of his predictions? The section below is taken from Mission Accomplished!, by the founders of the Institute of Expertology, a group which surveys expert opinion. They did an in depth study on the Iraq “experts,” and here is what they found from, among others, John Mccain, the “foreign policy expert” of the U.S. Senate… Click here for their full article in The Nation

How would American troops be greeted? “I believe…that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” (March 20, 2003)

Did Saddam Hussein have a nuclear program that posed an imminent threat to the United States? “Saddam Hussein is on a crash course to construct a nuclear weapon.” ( October 10, 2002)

Will a war with Iraq be long or short? “This conflict is… going to be relatively short.” (March 23, 2003)

How is the war going? “I would argue that the next three to six months will be critical.” (September 10, 2003)

How is it going (almost two months later, from the war’s “greatest critic”)? “I think the initial phases of [the war] were so spectacularly successful that it took us all by surprise.” (October 31, 2003)

Is this war really necessary? “Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war.” (August 30, 2004)

How is it going? (Recurring question for the war’s “greatest critic”) “We will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year.” (December 4, 2005)

Will the President’s “surge” of troops into Baghdad and surrounding areas that the senator had been calling for finally make the difference? “We can know fairly well [whether the surge is working] in a few months.” (February 4, 2007)

John McCain’s Crystal Ball

May 16, 2008

[Thus spoke the foreign policy expert of the U.S. Senate]

Yes, let’s trust the “foreign policy expert” of the U.S. Senate that all will be rosy in Iraq in 2013 after 4 years of his presidency, according to his look through the crystal ball. Sounds like a good idea to me.

This week McCain stated, “By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won, Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension.”

McCain’s followers actually think that his war-hero status, his great American story, make him so uniquely qualified for the presidency that things will magically fall into place in Iraq under his leadership even when he enthusiastically embraces the same failed policies as Bush before him. How exactly does that work?

This from the man who doesn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shiite, and had to be corrected by Joseph Lieberman when he publicly stated on visit in Jordan that (Sunni) Al Qaeda operatives were going into (Shiite) Iran for training and then being sent back to the field to fight U.S. troops, when in reality Sunni Al Qaeda extremists and the Shiite groups are fighting on opposites sides of the Iraq war. Then he tried to play it off as a gaffe instead of ignorance, before repeating his mistake again in a radio interview with right-wing talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

The truth is, of course, nobody who knows better would make such a mistake. Not once, certainly not twice. Were it not for Lieberman to whisper in his ear, McCain wouldn’t have even known it was a mistake. So we’re going to trust this guy as the great oracle of Iraq’s future?

There’s a great article from detailing how John McCain has repeatedly used his Vietnam credentials to justify — or oppose any foreign policy venture under the sun. But the grand irony is pointed out on the third page of the Salon article:

“Unlike all previous military engagements during McCain’s tenure as a politician, the Iraq war resembles in length and expenditure the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and thus would seem to provide the clearest parallel for applying the lessons of the earlier conflict. In fact, McCain has applied some lessons to Iraq that seem to conflict with earlier statements about Vietnam. He had previously said, in connection with Somalia, that staying in a war because chaos would ensue on American departure was not a good reason to stay. Last Tuesday, he said the U.S. needed to stay in Iraq because chaos would ensue if we left, as we learned in Vietnam.”