Zakaria on McCain’s Foreign Policy

Fareed Zakaria comes out as highly critical of Republican presidential nominee presumptive John McCain’s foreign policy positions:

I write this with sadness because I greatly admire John McCain, a man of intelligence, honor and enormous personal and political courage. I also agree with much of what else he said in that speech in Los Angeles. But in recent years, McCain has turned into a foreign-policy schizophrenic, alternating between neoconservative posturing and realist common sense. His speech reads like it was written by two very different people, each one given an allotment of a few paragraphs on every topic.

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?

I’ve been critical of John McCain on somewhat different grounds: he’s too confrontational and interventionist for my tastes. Unfortunately, this is very much to the liking of certain quarters within the Republican base who would welcome an attack on Iran and think we’re far too lenient towards China. Even more unfortunately, at least in my view, is that both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are equally confrontational and interventionist. You can hardly interpret Sen. Clinton’s bellicose statements about Iran and her stump speech hostility to China or Sen. Obama’s stated willingness to intervene in Dar Fur or invade Pakistan in pursuit of Taliban and Al Qaeda finding safe haven there in any other way.

However, I do think I can answer one of Mr. Zakaria’s questions for him. The reasoning behind a League Democracies is, as best as I can tell, as another possible place for venue shopping when neither the United Nations nor NATO is agreeable.

It looks very much as though come what may we’re going to have a confrontational interventionist president and we and the world had better get used to the idea. So much for mending fences and restoring the U. S.’s lost credibility.

6 comments… add one
  • Please quote me where Obama proclaims his readiness to invade Pakistan.

    He did say:

    “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” Obama said.

    Basically that he said that he would be willing to strike terrorist targets in Pakistan if Pakistan’s military dictator was unwilling to do so. Which we have actually been doing, if you followed the news out of Pakistan. Also, where did Obama call for an intervention in Darfur beyond what the UN and AU are doing? He’s only called for the UN and AU forces to be made more effective, and for diplomatic pressure to allow this, but not for any sort of forced military solution.

    You also cannot equate Clinton’s willingness to confront China with some sort of militaristic bellicosity – her complaints are almost all trade-related and standard fare for free trade skeptics. Nowhere does she proclaim anything like what McCain advocates.

    This is a silly post.

  • You just quoted it, tequila. I think it’s imprudent to do it now and would be imprudent to do it were Sen. Obama president. “Strike” can mean via ICBM or it can mean invasion or any of a number of other possible forms of military force. You have your interpretation. I have mine.

    Here’s Sen. Obama’s statement on Darfur which includes the following on military intervention:

    Next, the United States should support the immediate deployment of an effective international force to disarm militia, protect civilians and facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance in Darfur.

    Isn’t that a military intervention?

    With respect to China do you believe that isolating China will make military confrontation with China more or less likely?

  • Outis Link

    With respect to China do you believe that isolating China will make military confrontation with China more or less likely?

    On can look back at US policy towards the Imperial Japanese government in the 1930s for a suggestive parallel on this matter.

  • ‘Splain me, Outis. I think that Japan was isolated in the 1930’s and that U. S. policy, while not responsible for the isolation certainly didn’t help. What do you think?

  • PD Shaw Link

    I think Zakaria is right that McCain seems a bit schizophrenic, but this is a complaint that I would levy at all the candidates. I’m trying to figure out what these people would do in an unorchestrated, non-poll driven problem. Though I suppose consistency is only a virtue among the professional and pajama – wearing commentariat.

    I would say that in the wake of the assassination of Bhutto, McCain demonstrated the best poise, the best knowledge and the best policy approach of the remaining candidates. (Edwards gets points, but he’s gone)

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