McCain's Policies Were Questionable, but His Prescience Was Not

By Gehrke, Joel | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, September 15, 2018 | Go to article overview

McCain's Policies Were Questionable, but His Prescience Was Not


Gehrke, Joel, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


In death, John McCain received the honors reserved for a president, departed from the public eye a generation ago or more. McCain never left the arena, before the often tacky bloodsport of American politics paused to observe the passage of his hearse.

It must have been jarring to watch, for Americans who have spent years disliking him for one reason or another. His most “maverick” stances brought him a reputation as a “warmonger” among liberals and the enmity of social conservatives. But the Arizona Republican was wiser in his most controversial moments than people cared to admit. More importantly, McCain was one of the few federally elected officials to respect the office that he held — with its power and responsibility — and, also, to respect himself enough to believe that he could perform those duties, even when it was difficult.

McCain was elected to the Senate in 1987, giving him a role in all the most tumultuous domestic and international storylines of the past generation. His first Supreme Court confirmation battle was that of Robert Bork, the judge whose defeated nomination initiated our current era of total political warfare over the judiciary as part of an increasingly high-stakes culture war.

Beyond American shores, the Soviet Union was unraveling, rendering obsolete much of American grand strategy of the previous 40 years.

It was on these two issues — foreign policy and judicial conflicts — where McCain would be most willing to defy presidents and short-term political trends. He might have made his own mistakes, but at least he foresaw where the great game would be played in the post-Cold War era.

'Warmonger'

While some intellectuals watching the fall of the Berlin Wall fell in love with the idea of “the end of history,” McCain saw scary ways that American history might still end, at the hands of rogue nuclear states or rising new powers. His doomsaying contributed to his reputation as “a warmonger”, but that was a caricature. The inaccuracy of that charge can be seen from, of all things, a polemic against the 2008 GOP presidential nominee written by a vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute.

The author acknowledged that McCain had opposed President Ronald Reagan’s deployment of Marines to Lebanon, backed President George H.W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq “only after an initial period of agonizing reluctance,” and proved “unrelentingly hostile” to Bush and later President Bill Clinton’s intervention in Somalia.

But McCain drew criticism for many other aggressive proposals: He wanted airstrikes against North Korea’s nuclear program in 1993 and derided Clinton’s 1994 deal with the Kim regime as “all carrots and no sticks.” He supported multiple interventions in the Balkans. He voted to invade Iraq and played a lonely leading role in advocating for the surge of 2007. The Cato critique also faults McCain for “lumping [Iran, Syria, and North Korea] together as rogue states” and for his “confrontational positions” towards Russia and China.

Stipulate, for argument’s sake, that McCain was wrong about the Balkans, if only because it helped Russian President Vladimir Putin argue to his domestic audience that Western powers intend to dominate and perhaps destroy Russia. (Although, to be fair, the man who displayed, in his post-Soviet office, a portrait of Peter the Great at the height of his imperial power probably didn’t need much encouragement to take a confrontational posture towards the West.)

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was also a major strategic error, albeit one driven by intelligence community failures that ensnared most American and British leaders.

Ten years on, his assessment of threats, unfortunately, looks correct: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can strike any city in the United States, in part because successive administrations made up-front concessions in exchange for breakable and soon-broken promises. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

McCain's Policies Were Questionable, but His Prescience Was Not
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.