Belligerent McCain is a threat to peace

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 September, 2008, 12:00am

John McCain argues that only he is ready to be US military commander-in-chief. Actually, he lacks the necessary judgment, knowledge and temperament.

Senator McCain served honourably in the military and suffered greatly as a result. But his volatility is an ill feature for the man who would truly be the most powerful person on Earth. His fellow Vietnam POW Phillip Butler writes: 'He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly, that is not the finger I want next to that red button.'

Equally bad, Senator McCain doesn't appear to know much about foreign countries. According to former CIA hand Phil Giraldi: 'When speaking with a genuine area specialist or expert, McCain frequently is primarily interested in stating his own perceptions and is not generally regarded as an attentive listener. Analysts do not like briefing him because he also becomes angry and sometimes personally offensive whenever anyone contradicts a view that he has expressed.'

And Senator McCain has appalling judgment. In recent years, he has rarely found a conflict that he didn't want the US to fight. Though the Balkans was of little strategic relevance to the US, he advocated a bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs to preserve a unified Bosnia against their wishes.

Shortly thereafter, president Bill Clinton took America into Kosovo's guerilla war, featuring ethnic Albanians against ethnic Serbs, another tragic but irrelevant conflict. Senator McCain pushed the Clinton administration to launch a ground invasion. He first favoured bombing North Korea more than a decade ago. He was unconcerned about the prospect of a devastating war on the Korean Peninsula.

Then there was the unnecessary Iraq invasion and botched occupation. Finally, Senator McCain got something right - the US troop surge. Of course, he then wanted a permanent occupation, blocked by the opposition of the Iraqis.

So enthused was he at the prospect of war with Iran that he came up with his famous ditty to the tune of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann: 'Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.' He apparently views the prospect of attacking another country, killing untold numbers and setting an entire region ablaze, as a laughing matter.

During the conflict between Russia and Georgia, Senator McCain wanted to confront Russia, a nuclear power, and bring Georgia into Nato, without explaining how the US was threatened.

'I know how to win wars,' he claims, based on no evidence other than having supported the surge in Iraq. Alas, he apparently doesn't know how to avoid wars, an even more important skill.

Ted Carpenter and Malou Innocent, of the Cato Institute, warn that Senator McCain 'would be a clear and present danger in the Oval Office'. Senator McCain has made the case for why he should not be president.

Doug Bandow is the Robert A. Taft Fellow at the American Conservative Defence Alliance and a former special assistant to president Ronald Reagan