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The Hysteria-Based Foreign Policy

By Matthew Yglesias on August 19, 2008 at 1:51 pm

"The Hysteria-Based Foreign Policy"

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McCain Funny Face

Matt Welch has an excellent little reason article putting John McCain’s heated Georgia rhetoric in the context of McCain’s larger record of overreacting to every international event. He wasn’t just worried by North Korea’s nuclear program in 1994, he called it “the most dangerous and immediate expression” of “the greatest challenge to U.S. security and world stability today.” He didn’t just favor military action over Kosovo, he wanted “infantry and armored divisions for a possible ground war” thrown into the mix as part of “an immediate and manifold increase in the violence against Serbia proper and Serbian forces in Kosovo.” But he also thinks that Islamic radicalism is “the transcendent issue of our time” and also that the standoff with Russia is the first “serious crisis internationally” since the end of the Cold War, since Russia is aiming “to restore the old Russian Empire.”

In short, not only is Russia on the march beyond Tbilisi to Ukraine, Finland, and substantial swathes of Poland but that’s not even the transcendent issue of our time. And North Korea’s nuclear program is “the greatest challenge to U.S. security and world stability today” but that’s not the transcendent issue of our time. And Islamism is the transcendent issue of our time, but not a serious international crisis or an especially great challenge to U.S. security and world stability. Now of course there’s no way to make sense of that, because it’s not supposed to make any kind of sense. McCain just thinks that overreacting is the right reaction to everything. It’s a hysteria-based foreign policy.

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