Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Commentary: Meet John 'Dubya' McCain

Go to Los Angeles Times original
John McCain knows a lot less about foreign policy than he'd have us believe. This, anyway, is the impression that's been growing in recent weeks, not least because of a much-discussed New York Times story published recently that painted a growing divide in his campaign between "pragmatists" and "neoconservatives." The candidate reportedly lacks firm ideological convictions, so a battle for "McCain's soul" may be in the offing.

And it's true: Despite his decades of supposed national security experience, it's difficult to stick an "-ism" on the tail of McCain's approach to world affairs. He's been one of the president's most fervent backers on Iraq, and yet he has also criticized the unilateralist tendencies that led the United States to war without key allies. During the 1990s, he opposed U.S. intervention in Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia, but he knocked President Clinton for his unwillingness to commit ground troops to Kosovo. Even on Vietnam -- the intervention about which one suspects he has thought the most -- McCain has both asserted that the war was winnable and also questioned whether we could have succeeded.

But in truth, McCain's foreign policy is far more consistent than it seems. Much like George W. Bush, McCain sees the world in oppositional terms -- us versus them, and good versus evil. McCain speaks often of taking the lead "in fighting this transcendent issue of our time: the battle and struggle against radical Islamic extremism." To him, it is a "transcendent struggle between good and evil." This alone tells us much of what we need to know.


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