Tuesday, August 12, 2008


John McCain's Foreign Policy Follies

Here's part of John McCain's speech about the situation in Georgia/South Ossetia:
In recent days Moscow has sent its tanks and troops across the internationally recognized border into the Georgian region of South Ossetia. Statements by Moscow that it was merely aiding the Ossetians are belied by reports of Russian troops in the region of Abkhazia, repeated Russian bombing raids across Georgia, and reports of a de facto Russian naval blockade of the Georgian coast. Whatever tensions and hostilities might have existed between Georgians and Ossetians, they in no way justify Moscow's path of violent aggression. Russian actions, in clear violation of international law, have no place in 21st century Europe.
This sounds like lofty rhetoric, but no matter what your view of Russia's actions is, it is laughable coming from an unrepentant supporter of Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq, which carried not even the slightest hint of a justification under international law. Defenders of Russia's actions point to parallels between what Russia's doing in Georgia and what the US/NATO did in Serbia/Kosovo. Needless to say, McCain supported US bombardment of Serbia, but was critical of the Clinton administration for ruling out the use of ground forces in the conflict. It's not clear exactly what the legal justification for NATO's war on Serbia was, but it's safe to say that "clear violations of international law" only appear to bother McCain when they're committed by our enemies or by any power that threatens US hegemony.

Russia's military actions in Georgia are quite reminiscent of what Israel did in Lebanon two year ago, invading Lebanon and bombing targets throughout the country, including Beirut's airport, in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. Like Russia's war against Georgia, Israel's war in Lebanon included massive bombardment from the air, a ground invasion, and a naval blockade. More than 1,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians, died in the war, and 42 Israeli civilians were also killed in cross-border attacks. What was John McCain's response to this disproportionate use of force during the invasion of a sovereign country, a case of "violent aggression" in clear violation of international law?
Rejecting condemnation by some over the extent of Israel's use of force, Sen. John McCain on Saturday called appropriate the country's response to an assault by Islamic guerrillas who crossed over from Lebanon and captured two Israeli soldiers.

During a fund-raising luncheon for Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka, the senator from Arizona — himself a former prisoner of war in Vietnam — insisted Israel had every right to defend itself against Wednesday's attacks by Hezbollah.

Since Wednesday, Israel has bombarded Lebanon's airport and main roads in the most intense offensive against the country in 24 years, while Hezbollah has launched hundreds of rockets into Israel.

"My dear friends, you have probably seen our European friends say, 'Well, the Israelis have got to stop,' " McCain told about 120 people during the fund-raiser at a golf course in this St. Louis suburb.

"What would we do if somebody came across our borders and killed our soldiers and captured our soldiers? Do you think we would be exercising total restraint?"
That's what I like. A master in the art of consistency. This is truly dangerous stuff, when you can look at two almost identical situations and come up with the opposite reaction depending on whether the perpetrator is friend or foe. At that point, your words have no meaning, and your appeals to law and reason are utterly fraudulent. The similarity of this rhetoric to that employed by Cheney and Bush is not surprising, but is this really the kind of nonsense we can expect from a man labeled by the media as the "maverick" and the "foreign policy expert" in the presidential race?

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