John McCain, one of the G.O.P. presidential candidates, has made a splash recently by uttering openly Russophobic statements. Frantically, analysts in Moscow began to ponder what the McCain presidency would mean for the future of U.S.-Russia relations.
For those folks, I have a simple message: don’t worry, comrades. McCain won’t be the next president of the United States. This is actually a good news not only for the people of Russia, but also for the citizens of the U.S. because after eight years of the disastrous foreign policies of the Bush administration, we cannot afford four more years of the same.
McCain has been running for presidency since the last century and has eventually become a lame-duck candidate with lame-duck vision of the world. He still sees "K.G.B." in Putin’s eyes and is eager to deploy American missiles in "Czechoslovakia." Never mind that K.G.B. was disbanded in 1995, and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist as a state in 1992. McCain has missed both events because his ability to see the world as it is had not survived the end of the Cold War.
McCain had been locked at Hanoi Hilton for 5 1/2 years, but after his captors let him go, McCain had mentally refused to leave his prison cell. Spiritually, he is still a prisoner. A prisoner of the Cold War. Its images still mesmerize McCain: in a recently published article in the Foreign Affair magazine, McCain expresses his admiration for the President Truman and his efforts "to meet the challenges of the Cold War."
McCain’s grudge against Putin is understandable: after being publicly dressed down by the Russian president in Munich, McCain may have a right to a petty revenge. But his recipe for dealing with what he calls a "revanchist Russia" (Why "revanchist"? Who has "defeated" Russia in the first place?) is pathetic: he calls — yet again — for excluding Russia from the G8. Here is the quote:
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.
I leave it to McCain to explain what is the purpose of having "a club of leading market democracies." But I’m wondering whether McCain realizes that replacing Russia with Brazil and India would make it G-9, not G-8? Yet another case of a "fuzzy math"?
(It is not only math skills that McCain seems to be lacking; his logic does not fare much better. Predictably enough for a presidential candidate, especially Republican, McCain is a great supporter of the U.S. military build-up. However, when it comes, for example, to China, McCain adopts a different approach:
"When China builds new submarines, adds hundreds of new jet fighters, modernizes its arsenal of strategic ballistic missiles, and tests antisatellite weapons, the United States legitimately must question the intent of such provocative acts."
Has it ever occurred to McCain that China’s " provocative acts" could be a reaction to the U.S.’ increased military spending?)
McCain’s Russophobia is not a malaise in itself; it is a symptom of a larger and more serious disease: his inability to correctly identify real threats to the U.S. security.
At first glance, not dissimilar to his more successful rival, Mitt Romney, McCain claims that "defeating radical Islamist extremists is the national security challenge of our time." But Romney believes that "the jihad is much broader than any one nation", whereas McCain describes Iraq as being the "central front" in the "war on terror." Granted, after having invested so heavily in the President Bush’s "surge strategy", McCain has little wiggling room. Nevertheless, his obsession with failed policies in Iraq does not bode well for his claim of being the only presidential candidate with no need for "on-the-job training."
Again, not dissimilar to other presidential candidates, McCain has petty projects of his own to implement should he become president. For John Edwards, it’s reducing the class sizes in schools in poor African countries. For Mitt Romney, it’s keeping in check expenses by government’s contractors and suppliers.
McCain is different. McCain wants to create a new discipline for American military colleges, the one dealing with interrogation of terror suspects. McCain cannot wait until the U.S. military has more interrogators with knowledge in "advanced psychological techniques." Is McCain planning to designate a fellowship in his name for "advanced interrogation?"
McCain’s prescription for solving America’s national security problems, in addition to increasing military spending, is the creation of a bizarre international organization which McCain calls a "worldwide League of Democracies." Not surprisingly, very little detail is provided about the composition of this mythical body (Russia, to be sure, won’t be invited!), but McCain is very specific about its mission: to serve "as a unique hand maiden of freedom" (a list of countries that are pregnant with "freedom" or are about to go to the labor is suspiciously absent in McCain’s piece).
In McCain’s dream, the League will miraculously succeed in what the United Nations had so far so spectacularly failed: combating AIDS, pressuring "the tyrants" around the world (does McCain mean Putin or Musharraf?), and — gotcha! — "uniting to impose sanctions against Iran."
McCain pretends being an "internationalist." In reality, he’s no more than an "isolationist plus." Instead of saying — like many of his fellow "strategists" in Washington, DC — that the United States can confront "the challenges of the twenty-first century" alone, he claims that the job can be done by the U.S. and a handful of its closest allies. The rest of the world — Russia and China first of all — be damned. Whether McCain is too old, too ossified, too mummified, or simply too dumb to realize that the real world is so much different from what McCain thinks of it, is pretty much an irrelevant question.
In the preamble to his Foreign Affairs piece, McCain wrote:
"America needs a president who can revitalize our country’s purpose and standing in the world."
This is exactly why McCain won’t be the next American president.