Here in Washington, DC there are a lot of lobbying and PR firms. These firms do most of their work for businesses or business groups, and that’s what they’re best known for, but pretty much everyone who does corporate work in a serious way also does some similar services for some foreign governments or organizations. After all, one consequence of American near-hegemony is that ability to influence U.S. domestic politics is an important dimension of national power for many countries. So when you do what John McCain’s done and staff your campaign with a bunch of lobbyists, you’re going to wind up having staffed your campaign with a bunch of people with some ties to nasty foreign actors.
That’s what made McCain’s decision to fire a couple of people for being too cosy with SLORC so odd — now everyone else is going to get scrutinized. And here’s a bunch of scrutiny. It seems that Charlie Black, for example, has done work for Mobuto Sese Seko, Siad Barre, and Ferdinand Marcos, among others. There’s also some stuff (less damning, in my view) Peter Madigan and Kevin Fay in there. And I assume that when eager-beaver oppo researchers have some more time to dig, they’ll come up with more stuff. And of course given that McCain has put a hazy, militaristic vision of going bigger than “war on terror” to some kind of vaguely defined quest to stamp out all dictatorships everywhere, it’s hard for him to say this kind of thing is all in the game.