Hagel on McCain and Russia


Connie Bruck takes a look at Chuck Hagel’s steady alienation from the GOP national security mainstream. Iraq, of course, played a big role but apparently in was John McCain’s decision that he wanted to take neocon policy and start applying it to great powers like Russia that was really the last straw:

Hagel, citing McCain’s repeated calls for Russia to be expelled from the Group of Eight, the association of major industrial democracies, said, “You’re not going to isolate Russia—that’s completely crazy!” He told me that McCain’s approach to Russia was one of the reasons that he could not endorse him. […]

Critics have suggested that McCain’s League of Democracies could diminish the role of the United Nations. When I mentioned this to Hagel, he said, “What is the point of the United Nations? The whole point, as anyone who has taken any history knows, was to bring all nations of the world together in some kind of imperfect body, a forum that allows all governments of the world, regardless of what kinds of government, to work through their problems—versus attacking each other and going to war. Now, in John’s League of Democracies, does that mean Saudi Arabia is out? Does that mean our friend King Abdullah in Jordan is out? It would be only democracies. Well, we’ve got a lot of allies and relationships that are pretty important to us, and to our interests, who would be out of that club. And the way John would probably see China and Russia, they wouldn’t be in it, either. So it would be an interesting Book-of-the-Month Club.”

It’ll be interesting to see where traditional Republican realists go over the next couple of years. At the moment, an awful lot of the most prominent and most committed of them — Hagel, Jim Leach, Colin Powell — are neither de facto or de jure supporting Obama. Will they be able, post-election, to take control of their party again and steer it off the neocon course? At this point, it seems more likely that they’re going to wind up defecting en masse to the Democratic coalition, even as the Democratic Party’s own neocons-lite scramble aboard the bandwagon.