Saturday, March 29, 2008

David Brooks on McCain's speech

David Brooks had a good piece on John McCain's foreign policy speech on Wednesday. Brooks argues that McCain, unlike the Democratic characterization of him, will not be continuing George Bush's foreign policy. Specifically, he cites three speeches has given, the first in 1983, in response to Reagan's decision to send troops to Lebanon. Brooks points out that, true to his reputation as a maverick and a realist, McCain has opposed the use of force when he does believe it can achieve our objectives, opposed his party and President when he thinks they are wrong, and has adjusted to changing realities. All qualities that would be very welcome in a Republican administration. And then Brooks obliquely chastises those of us who are focused on other issues at the present time:
Anybody who thinks McCain is merely continuing the Bush agenda is not paying attention.

I have to admit that I am one of those people who have not been distracted by events in the Democratic race. Feeling slightly chastened, I decided that I should pay attention. So I read McCain's speech.

Brooks is right, there is a great deal of difference between McCain and Bush. McCain almost sounds like a Democrat when he says
"Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we pay "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies. When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them."

That sounds like real humility. And I think there's an excellent chance that he actually believes it.

I am glad that McCain is the Republican nominee, because I agree with him on a lot of this. He obviously will attract some people disillusioned with Bush
But there are a couple of key issues that he does not address, both around Iraq. The first is, was it a mistake to invade in the first place? McCain will, I assume, always answer yes. That is a fundamental point of disagreement between him and Obama. Second, although he talks about staying in Iraq until we achieve victory, i.e. a stable Iraq, he never addresses the cost. He argues that the surge is working, which suggests that he thinks success is just around the corner. But the events of this week are not encouraging. At what point, Senator McCain, is the price too high?

3 comments:

Aaron said...

"The first is, was it a mistake to invade in the first place? McCain will, I assume, always answer yes."

He'll answer "no", but I think that's what you meant to say.

He argues that the surge is working, which suggests that he thinks success is just around the corner. But the events of this week are not encouraging. At what point, Senator McCain, is the price too high?

You won't get an answer to that before he's elected President. And I doubt you'll get an answer even afterward.

How Insane Is John McCain? said...

I think it's telling that Brooks had to go back to 1983 to find reason to argue McCain wouldn't be another Bush. How about what McCain is saying in 2008? Because it sounds like Bush, only crazier.

JohnTEQP said...

Right, I did get the comment on whether or not the war was a mistake wrong - McCain will always answer "no."