Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wherein John McCain reveals what he thinks of war

McCain gave his big foreign affairs speech today. Not surprisingly, it was so much like a Bush speech that the absence of “in other words”’s was almost jarring.

He opened with a joke: “I detest war.” No, really, he detests war. “Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.” Is he implicitly calling George “It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger” Bush a fool or a fraud? Or possibly a frool?

But while he detests war (that just keeps getting funnier), he is a “realistic idealist.” “We cannot wish the world to be a better place than it is.” So throw away those wishes for the world to be a better place: vote McCain!

He says, repeatedly, that the US can’t act unilaterally, that we have to listen to the rest of the world. “There is such a thing as international good citizenship,” he says. Which sounds very reasonable of him, until you realize the forum in which the rest of the world will make its opinions known is his proposed “League of Democracies.” He also proposes booting Russia – excuse me, “a revanchist Russia” – from the G-8.

Oh, what else. Latin America is our back yard and our “natural partners.” China would be less of an adversary if it just shared our values. Eradicate malaria in Africa. No nukes in North Korea or Iran.

The “transcendent challenge of our time” is “radical Islamic terrorism.” Indeed, “Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House” (of course McCain has also referred to the use of steroids by professional athletes a “transcendent issue.”)

We must win the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims (yes, he really said hearts and minds, although the phrase was in quotation marks in the prepared text). Indeed, “In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.” Says the guy who doesn’t know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

And of course, we have a “moral responsibility” never to leave Iraq: “It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal. Our critics say America needs to repair its image in the world. How can they argue at the same time for the morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?” Yeah, how can they do that?

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