McCain Speaks to Europe

John McCain
photo: Chris Dunn

Spiegel has a typically aggressive (and aggressively European) interview with John McCain today. In many ways it’s an interesting yet disappointing exercise, due to its focus on the perceived past sins of the Bush administration. While much ground is covered, a little too often Spiegel essentially asks “Bush did XYZ, which is bad. How will you differ?” That comes at the expense of examining many questions about the future Atlantic partnership.

However, the responses are interesting…particularly in tone. McCain gives Europe answers that in many ways will not conform to their desires in practical terms. But in a way, may be answers which seem more palatable to them. After all, the European adoration of international negotiation, consultative diplomacy and multilateral consent for its own sake, is on a certain popular level a superficial partiality for words and handshakes. One that by nature is always highly susceptible to the rephrasing of any given position to achieve acquiescence.

A few key responses from McCain:

On German resistance to operations in Southern Afghanistan:

We need more Germans in Afghanistan. There is a great deal at stake — for all of Europe and the US — including the export of the poppy crop products into Europe as well as the threat to stability in entire the region.


I would like to see more German [military] participation obviously, but those decisions are made by the German government and people.
(John McCain in Spiegel)

On American unilateralism in foreign policy:

Well, we all hope that America will be multilateral again in the future. There were times when the United States acted unilaterally, but I think we would all prefer to work in concert with our friends and allies.
(John McCain in Spiegel)

On the Kyoto Treaty:

I believe America is going to enter into negotiations to try to reach a global agreement. But, as I said, that agreement must include India and China, two of the emerging economies of the world. We would be foolish not to do so.

In prelude to the Iraq issue, Speigel asks a question that could only be seriously entertained in Europe, existing as it does under the aegis of American military protection. Spiegel asks if war is a “legitimate instrument of politics.” McCain responds that in self-defense of course it is. Then come the true stakes in this election

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will withdraw our forces from Iraq based on an arbitrary timetable designed for the sake of political expediency and which recklessly ignores the profound human calamity and dire threats to our security that would ensue. They will not recognize and seriously address the threat posed by an Iran with nuclear ambitions against our ally, Israel, and the entire region.


I intend to win the war, and I trust in the proven judgment of our commanders there and the courage and selflessness of the Americans they have the honor to command. I share the grief over the terrible losses we have suffered in its prosecution. There is no other candidate for this office who appreciates more than I do just how awful war is.


But I know that the costs in lives and treasure we would incur should we fail in Iraq will be far greater than the losses we have suffered to date. And I will not allow that to happen.
(John McCain in Spiegel)

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