Why I Can’t Vote For John McCain: International Policy Version (Russia/Georgia, Anthrax/Iraq)

UPDATE 10/21/08: I have made a video version of this argument.  It can be seen here.

Let’s start this off with a fairly average picture of some folks at a McCain speech…

Crowd at a John McCain Speech

Crowd at a John McCain Speech

Sorry for the low-blow, but I’m following McCain’s campaign example and I thought this picture was funny. We’ll get to a bit more substantive arguments below…

As mentioned in this post, the current Russia-Georgia has reached something of a resolution. That came a few days after McCain had this to say…

“Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory,” he said, interrupted by the sound of jets taking off.

Since then, McCain’s rhetoric has become increasingly sharp. On Tuesday, he called Russia an unrepentant combatant against a “brave little nation” and compared Russian “killing” in the “tiny little democracy” to Soviet aggression during the Cold War era.

“We’ve seen this movie before in Prague and Budapest,” McCain said on Fox News. “And I’m not saying we are reigniting the Cold War, but, this is an act of aggression in which we didn’t think we’d see in the 21st century. “

O.k. let’s forget the obvious and ridiculous irony of Senator McCain’s statement (the 21st century has all been about acts of aggression for the U.S.) and look at what he threatened to do. This is put in the context of Obama’s more measured response.

Obama has confronted the crisis in Georgia in more modulated tones, initially sounding closer to Bush than McCain, but later condemning the Russian aggression in strong terms, saying there was “no possible justification” for it. Unlike McCain, he has also taken note of Georgia’s military actions in the breakaway region known as South Ossetia. He supports Georgia’s candidacy for NATO and has called for a review of Russia’s application to join the World Trade Organization, but has not followed McCain in threatening to expel Russia from the G-8.

Note that “McCain threatening” part. That’s a bit much for a candidate in a race for a country that is already deeply involved in two shooting wars. I really, really, really, don’t think we want to put Russia in a situation where they feel justified slipping a few modern anti-chopper weapons to the mujahadeen in Afghanistan.

There’s a lot more to the U.S./Russia situation, including the Poland Missile Shield vs. Cuban Nuke Bombers tradeoff that Bush has pushed us to, but that’s another post. Now I want to move on to a historical look at McCain’s reactions to certain events. In this case, it was the first terrorist attack on U.S. soil after 9/11.

Ya’ll remember the Anthrax Attacks, right? Here’s what McCain had to say about it…

O.k. so forget the fanboy laughing at death, and the horribly wrong prediction/Halloween joke, and how wrong he was about Afghanistan. Let’s focus on the bolded part below…

LETTERMAN: How are things going in Afghanistan now?

MCCAIN: I think we’re doing fine . . . I think we’ll do fine. The second phase — if I could just make one, very quickly — the second phase is Iraq. There is some indication, and I don’t have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may — and I emphasize may — have come from Iraq.

LETTERMAN: Oh is that right?

MCCAIN: If that should be the case, that’s when some tough decisions are gonna have to be made.

Now, this was aired on October 18, 2001.

WASHINGTON – In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda, but investigators ruled that out, the Daily News has learned.

After the Oct. 5, 2001, death from anthrax exposure of Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, Mueller was “beaten up” during President Bush‘s morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide.

“They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East,” the retired senior FBI official told The News.

On October 15, 2001, President Bush said, “There may be some possible link” to Bin Laden, adding, “I wouldn’t put it past him.” Vice President Cheney also said Bin Laden’s henchmen were trained “how to deploy and use these kinds of substances, so you start to piece it all together.”

But by then the FBI already knew anthrax spilling out of letters addressed to media outlets and to a U.S. senator was a military strain of the bioweapon. “Very quickly [Fort Detrick, Md., experts] told us this was not something some guy in a cave could come up with,” the ex-FBI official said. “They couldn’t go from box cutters one week to weapons-grade anthrax the next.”

[full story]

Now, whether or not McCain had been briefed before he went on Letterman is a question best left to the “Justice Department“, but a simple glance at the timeline shows the FBI knew at least 3 days before this that the most recent TERRORIST ATTACK had a domestic source. Somehow I think McCain would have had to have tried to stay ignorant of that information. And he did so to start pimping the Iraq War.

Also note at the end of first part of the Letterman episode, McCain quips…in relation to what’s going to happen after we win quickly…

“They might go back to selling camels or whatever enterprise they might want to engage in.”

The thing is, he’s saying this about pretty much the entire Middle East. I dunno about you, but that, mixed with his consistent inability to differentiate stuff like say Sunni/Shia, and his penchant for going off the trigger, and his history of selling bullshit for wars, all adds up to me as the kind of “experience” and “leadership” we can do without.

Frankly, I think Obama needs to attack him on these points. It’s where McCain assumes himself to be strongest, but personally I don’t think finishing in the bottom of your class, getting shot down and then captured as a young man qualifies a person to run the military as a very old one.


UPDATE: More along the same lines.

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain arrived late at his Senate office on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. “This is war,” he murmured to his aides. The sound of scrambling fighter planes rattled the windows, sending a tremor of panic through the room.

Within hours, Mr. McCain, the Vietnam War hero and famed straight talker of the 2000 Republican primary, had taken on a new role: the leading advocate of taking the American retaliation against Al Qaeda far beyond Afghanistan. In a marathon of television and radio appearances, Mr. McCain recited a short list of other countries said to support terrorism, invariably including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

While pushing to take on Saddam Hussein, Mr. McCain also made arguments and statements that he may no longer wish to recall. He lauded the war planners he would later criticize, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Mr. McCain even volunteered that he would have given the same job to Mr. Cheney.) He urged support for the later-discredited Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi’s opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, and echoed some of its suspect accusations in the national media. And he advanced misleading assertions not only about Mr. Hussein’s supposed weapons programs but also about his possible ties to international terrorists, Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks.

There ya go, all you need to know about his judgement…straight-neocon.

And lest we forget that sense of humor.

2 thoughts on “Why I Can’t Vote For John McCain: International Policy Version (Russia/Georgia, Anthrax/Iraq)

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