Ignoring McCain’s Record in Favor of ‘Reborn Multilateralist’ Narrative

mccain-speech.JPGJohn McCain delivered a foreign policy address today on nuclear proliferation, in which he stressed the need to work with Russia in securing loose nuclear materials and preventing them from falling into the wrong hands:

While we have serious differences, with the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States are no longer mortal enemies. As our two countries possess the overwhelming majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, we have a special responsibility to reduce their number. […]

I would also redouble our common efforts to reduce the risk that nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists or unfriendly governments.

McCain did not say whether his surge in Russia diplomacy would occur before or after he gets Russia kicked out of the G8, as he has suggested he would try to do.

Given that a New York Times story on McCain’s speech quotes an expert praising McCain’s “references…to multilateralism,” we may be about to witness the same phenomenon as occurred after McCain’s earlier foreign policy speech in late March. After that speech, some analysts seriously surmised that McCain had forsworn American unilateralism, despite a clear past record of advocacy for American unilateralism, and despite having some of the foremost advocates of American unilateralism among his foreign policy advisers.

McCain’s foreign policy spokesman, Randy Scheunemann, has suggested in regard to Russian objections to U.S. missile defense in Eastern Europe, that “there will be no trade-offs,” which are “a relic of a bygone era of power politics.” This is the essence of McCain’s approach to foreign affairs. Like Bush, McCain defines “negotiation” as presenting our enemies with ultimata, and “diplomacy” as laying out for them the terms of their capitulation.

Max Bergmann at Democracy Arsenal isn’t fooled:

Since McCain is not willing to negotiate with Iran or North Korea – what non-military strategies does McCain have to ensure that North Korea and Iran end their nuclear programs? The fact is he has no non-military strategy. His sole approach is to say to them: we demand you to stop doing what you are doing or else we will attack you and destroy you.

The latter approach is what McCain advocated in a 1999 speech on the North Korean nuclear threat, in which he suggested that the U.S. should have taken a harder line much sooner. McCain asserted that “a firmer response to North Korea might have triggered a war, a war we would win, but not without paying a terrible price…North Korea is still inexorably nearing total collapse, and its leaders remain quite capable of launching in their country’s death throes one final, glorious war. But now, they are much, much better armed.”

I think we can safely predict that McCain would follow this advice in regard to Iran, with predictably disastrous results.