Thursday, March 27, 2008

Senator McCain on Foreign Policy

John McCain gave a foreign policy speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, and now that I've read it, I still don't know whether to be elated or dismayed. I don't know whether Senator McCain believes everything he says, or merely couches things in language he knows will please his opponents. But I do know that people govern how they campaign, generally if not in the specifics.

The biggest problem I have with Senator McCain is that in using his opponent's language, he implicitly accepts their positions. What to do about captured terrorist suspects:

America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model. How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad. We must fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society. 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.
We can't turn lead into gold, grind up children to feed to cats, or yell fire in a crowded theater, either.

Lacking legality is among the many reasons we don't do those things.

By saying that it's wrong, McCain implies that we do it. He gives cover to our foes, and encourages the conspiracy-loving, coverup-seeking, America-hating moonbats at home.

I was very pleased to read this, however:

For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of relying on autocrats to provide order and stability. We relied on the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam Hussein. In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel. The Shah was overthrown by the radical Islamic revolution that now rules in Tehran. The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world produced increasing instability. The autocrats clamped down with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not become its victims. It was a toxic and explosive mixture. The oppression of the autocrats blended with the radical Islamists’ dogmatic theology to produce a perfect storm of intolerance and hatred.

We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-dated autocracies is the safest bet. They no longer provide lasting stability, only the illusion of it. We must not act rashly or demand change overnight. But neither can we pretend the status quo is sustainable, stable, or in our interests. Change is occurring whether we want it or not. The only question for us is whether we shape this change in ways that benefit humanity or let our enemies seize it for their hateful purposes. We must help expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many strengths as a free people. This is not just idealism. It is the truest kind of realism. It is the democracies of the world that will provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an enduring peace.

One of the central failings of our Cold War era policy was its reliance on stable autocrats like the Shah of Iran and Pinochet of Chile. This blind acceptance of stability over ideals was wrong then, demonstrating a lack of confidence in the rightness and power of liberty, and it's wrong now. While we can accept the allegiance of autocrats, we must not curry their favor over that of thei oppressed peoples.

Senator McCain indicated that he's a Global Warming Believer, and that depresses me.

He stopped just short of calling for an American Union, but on the positive side he fully endorsed free trade, at least in this hemisphere. At no time did he call for tariffs, which give me hope that he's a free trader on some level.

As I said, I feel better about it now that I've read it, except for the Gitmo and Global Warming stuff. Unfortunately, I suspect he really believes his own rhetoric there.

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