My main worry with John McCain is foreign policy. What do I worry about? That everything that has been awry with this administration would be made worse by his. Seeing the world as a series of enemies to be attacked rather than as a series of relationships to be managed and a series of foes to be undermined has proven of limited use. Even the successful removal of the Taliban has led, six years later, to a long and grueling counter-insurgency with no end in sight and a reconstituted al Qaeda in a nuclear-armed, unstable state. The invasion of Iraq - in the abstract, a noble cause against an evil enemy - has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the displacement of millions, the price of $3 trillion ... all for a less despotic Shiite government in league with Iran, making contracts with China. And that's if it turns out as a success. Along the way, the US has lost a vast amount of its moral standing and its legitimacy as a global power-broker. Insofar as neoconservatives do not understand this, and cannot understand this, they are a clear and present danger to the security of the West. Their unwillingness to understand how the US might be perceived in the world, how a hegemon needs to exhibit more humility and dexterity to maintain its power, makes them - and McCain - extremely dangerous stewards of American foreign policy in an era of global terror. They are diplomatically and strategically autistic.
McCain's response to the calamities of the past eight years has been to compound them all.
It has been to propose a "surge" in Afghanistan, to aggressively embrace open-ended commitment to Iraq (if the Iraqis can be pressured hard enough), and to launch one new hot war against Iran and another cold one - and hot, by proxies - against Russia. And the way in which the question is debated - around asinine concepts of "toughness" or "sissiness" - leads to facile decisions. It also leads to ads like this one: fear-mongering as an argument. It should be noted that Obama's statement that Iran is "not a serious threat" is so out of context as to be a lie. He said it was "not a serious threat compared to the Soviet Union." That is a critical, historical point - a way of actually looking at foreign policy outside a box crafted by morons.
Aside from the reference to "morons," I believe that Sullivan makes some incisive points. I believe that he's also spot on in his criticism of a fearmongering John McCain ad that distorts Obama's position on communicating with hostile leaders. In contrast with McCain's misrepresentation, here is what Obama actually said on the matter:
Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union [italics are mine]. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us [italics mine]. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, 'We're going to wipe you off the planet.' And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war and over time allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall.
Sullivan asks, "What does McCain disagree with in that?" I ask, What do YOU disagree with in that?