Recently, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said that if Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is elected, there will be “an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.” He followed up his comment by saying that Obama will rise to the occasion, because he has “steel in his spine.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) quickly jumped on the first part of Biden’s comments, declaring that the fact that Obama may be tested is actually a sign of weakness:
“I’m gonna test them,” Republican John McCain said at a campaign rally in New Mexico this morning. “They’re not gonna test me.”
Increasingly, national security experts are disavowing McCain’s comments. They agree that an international crisis confronting the next president is not a sign of weakness, but rather a very likely occurrence no matter if Obama or McCain wins:
— “I think the enemy could well take advantage” of the transfer of power in Washington, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, who launched preparations for the transition months ago
— Veteran Pentagon consultant Michael Bayer, chairman of the Defense Business Board, told his fellow panelists that the new president’s inner circle should “set aside time in transition to identify the planning, gravitas and interagency process necessary to respond to a likely first-270-day crisis.”
— Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the federal government is monitoring “dozens” of potential terrorists in the U.S. … Chertoff says there is a risk that some would see opportunity during the transition between administrations.
— In its Administration Transition Task Force Report issued early this year, DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council placed the peak threat period from 30 days prior to the change in administrations, to six months after.
In June, even close McCain confidante Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) predicted that “our enemies will test the new president early.” As all these experts pointed out, preventing such an attack from being catastrophic requires extensive planning and preparation. So far, McCain has dismissed talk of transition planning, and it doesn’t appear that he has prepared anything except tough rhetoric.