Despite McCain’s standard disclaimer in his press conference today that “now is not the time for partisanship,” it’s very clear that, reminiscent of the way that the Bush administration has wielded U.S. national security policy as a political weapon in a permanent negative campaign, John McCain intends to politicize and personalize the Russia-Georgia conflict as much as he can. His campaign has been relentlessly touting McCain’s personal relationship with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili — this story has McCain foreign policy adviser and former Georgia lobbyist Randy Scheunemann claiming that McCain and the Georgian president are “speaking daily throughout the crisis” — raising the very serious question of whether McCain’s
bonehead straight talk is further inflaming an already tense crisis.
McCain’s response to the Russia-Georgia crisis — and the uniform response of his neoconservative war cabinet — is typical of their deeply ideological approach to foreign policy. Trapped within an outdated “great power conflict” foreign affairs framework, this ideology requires treating each and every international crisis as a potential affront to American dignity, regardless of how that particular crisis actually impacts on America’s national security interests, and going all-in with grandiose statements of principle, with little consideration of or appreciation for how those statements can and do affect events. Senator McCain’s words and behavior, and that of his advisers, suggest that a President McCain’s approach to global affairs would make us long for the deft, sensitive diplomatic touch of George W. Bush.