Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What I Liked About McCain's Speech Today

And what I didn't like.

Senator John McCain addressed the Los Angeles World Affairs Council today (26-Mar-08). His address was not open to the public. What I saw of his delivery on C-SPAN demonstrated that he was heavily dependent on reading from the teleprompter, but did well considering his age. What follows are my excerpts drawn from the prepared text of his remarks.

Early on, McCain pointedly put Bush in his place:
I detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation's finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.
That seemed to have been a response to this Bush's lame attempt to serve as cheerleader for our beleaguered troops in the Afghanistan theater: In McCain's address there was some evidence of some new thinking on foreign policy in McCain's camp.
To meet this challenge requires understanding the world we live in, and the central role the United States must play in shaping it for the future. The United States must lead in the 21st century, just as in Truman's day. But leadership today means something different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe and the other democracies were still recovering from the devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic superpower. Today we are not alone. There is the powerful collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the leading democracies. There are also the increasingly powerful nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the international system.

In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone. We must be strong politically, economically, and militarily. But we must also lead by attracting others to our cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized society and by creating the new international institutions necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish.
But that really doesn't constitute new thinking for the rest of us, does it? It's more like traditional thinking before the blot of Busheney's apostasy brought our nation to its knees. There's more in this remedial line:
At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and trust. Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we pay "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies. When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them.
McCain touched on torture and evoked an impatient but robust applause before he finished saying,
... We can't torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured. I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control ...
McCain on global warming:
We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner. We Americans must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest of the world, including most importantly, the developing economic powerhouses of China and India.
Some of McCain's 'fresh thinking' did not go far enough for me. To be fair, I'm not sure any candidate can afford to question this statement this year:
We also need to build the international structures for a durable peace in which the radical extremists are gradually eclipsed by the more powerful forces of freedom and tolerance. Our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are critical in this respect and cannot be viewed in isolation from our broader strategy. In the troubled and often dangerous region they occupy, these two nations can either be sources of extremism and instability or they can in time become pillars of stability, tolerance, and democracy ..... Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region. And whether they eventually become stable democracies themselves, or are allowed to sink back into chaos and extremism, will determine not only the fate of that critical part of the world, but our fate, as well...
But I think the next POTUS will have to begin to question this proposition in 2009. I mean, such is the amount of American military and economic assets that have been squandered in Iraq, I'm not sure the Afghanistan mission, mandated since 11-Sep-01, is affordable or even achievable any longer.

Which really brings me to the nub of my reaction to McCain's great epistle today. There's not a word, of course, addressing his part as a cheerleader in the most ruinous, calamitous, hydra-headed disaster in the history American foreign policy. In the un-provoked, unnecessary, unilateral and deceitful invasion of Iraq, McCain was in on the ground floor. He voted for it and argued for it. McCain swallowed the same Kool-Aid dished out by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, regurgitated it, and spewed it out in turn. He's still spewing it out. He's willing to keep our forces in Iraq until the last dog dies.

Out of all of this unfathomable tragedy brought down upon the unfortunate Iraqis in our nation's name, the one astounding thing which confounds me every day is this: how can any Democrat or Republican, who signed on to this egregiously erroneous project, possibly run for President of the United States? How can any politician who championed such a mistake in 2003, not start off each speech in 2008 without apologizing to the world, to Iraqis, and to Americans for playing his or her part in such a blunder?

To all these presidential poseurs I want to paraphrase Special Counsel Joseph N. Welch:

Let us not assassinate truth any further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

9 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Emily said...

Vigil,

What's up with you? Many of McCain's words read from today's teleprompter are the very words he read from a different teleprompter in 2001. His trite, stale, and vague attempts to invigorate his audience are as bankrupt as his vow to keep our troops in Iraq for the next one hundred years.

And, you want the next POTUS to "question" the proposition?

I don't want our next President to simply "question" the egregious, unilateral, callous actions taken by Busheney. I want our next President to question, yes, but also to consult, to discuss, to carefully and thoughtfully construct a PLAN, and then to speak to his fellow Americans, as only Obama can, with conviction, honesty, and passion, unifying and inspiring us to join with him in righting our sinking Ship of State!

3/26/2008 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Thanks for the link to McCain's text. I found this passage interesting:

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia's nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization's doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

McCain sees a new cold war brewing without its old ideological context. He thinks European-American ties can be strengthened by appealing to Euro's anxiety about non-Soviet Russia. I'm not saying Euro's anxieties are unjustified. Russian heavy-handed LNG blackmail seems ominous to me. Ruskies are being especially mean to the Brits. All very interesting.

3/27/2008 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger Big Yellow Forehead said...

In Obama's speech yesterday, he discussed environmental concerns. It was the first time I'd actually heard him speak on the issue (though it probably was not the first time he did). He spent several minutes answering this question from an older man in the audience, and I think it was a strong response. McCain has the backing of Bush, who has a personal vendetta against the environment, so its hard for me to swallow any of his words on the topic. I don't think McCain likes Mother Nature anyway, especially since he was one of her classmates back in the beginning of time.

The only issue I seem to be in agreement with McCain on is torture/human rights. Through all of my studies on torture and other human rights violations, I've come to a similar conclusion: It doesn't work!

Still, I think the man's an idiot, and if the unthinkable happens and he becomes president, I'm selling myself on the web to the highest bidding Canadian.

3/27/2008 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

There is no political solution to the coming problems.
McCain is a booster boy for Globalism. A common pimp for the Price System. An idiot. As are all the politicians who are flunkies only for business interests.
The real controllers of America.
War is a racket that McCain and his ilk have used to boost the economy. The same method has been used since the second world war.

Profit runs this society... and the lack of it will destroy this society.
Credit collapse. Resource collapse.

3/27/2008 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

B.Y. Forehead:

I hope she's young and beautiful as well as wealthy!

3/27/2008 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

BYF, I'm selling my house to the hightest bider since my body has depreciated over the past thirty years. This too could be the fate of my house. But I will not remain here if McCain gets to be the new War President.

The Repubs hate the U.N. I always loved the U.N. We have a much better chance of getting the world to work together to solve global problems like the coming ecological disaster if we cooperate with one another. But I'm an old lefty idealist.

3/27/2008 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

I'm with Emily, and BYF here. Maybe women should rule the world, just not Hillary.

3/27/2008 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

I heard some of McCain's speech yesterday and I must admit to throughly enjoying the slap he gave Bush for glorifying war and saying that he (Bush) could be out there with them. Later Vigil, I'm off to the beach.

3/27/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Savage.. just like the typical American that you are.. you will do nothing except march off to your wage slave job and wax poetic about abstract nonsense.
Beach Bum you seem to be a resident of Lala land. Do you have to register to vote there ?
McCain and Hillary and Obama are the same person.
Brainwashed Americans. Clueless.

3/27/2008 02:28:00 PM  

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