August 28, 2018
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
JOHN McCAIN: His Life and Legacy
“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” – Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
As you know, the press has been inundated by glowing tributes to the late Senator John McCain since his death this past Saturday, August 25. Many Democrats—a Senator Chuck Schumer, a House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—and boatloads of Republicans have fallen all over themselves to praise McCain for his “moderation,” his “ability to get along with Democrats and compromise,” his “fierce internationalism,” and his “unwavering commitment to global democracy and equality.” Fellow Arizonan and intractable Never Trump Senator Jeff Flake, his eyes filled with tears (were they real?), rose in the US Senate to make remarks—and continue his own history of oratorical and literary plagiarism.
Fox News, wallowing in its own globalist narrative, through its commentary and its multiple guests, has almost canonized the late senator. Tuesday morning (August 28) Senator Lindsey Graham, appearing on Fox, volubly proclaimed McCain his “mentor, model, and inspiration.” And, no doubt, the irrepressible Graham is correct about that.
For he and McCain—and McCain, in particular—have been perhaps the two most wrongheaded political leaders the Republican Party has given birth to since the years of Ronald Reagan. Indeed, they are the two GOP solons who have wrought more calamity on American foreign policy, which they managed to inflict on the rest of the world, than nearly any other gentlemae in the United State Senate.
I remember many years ago that, on the death of someone whose views I did not agree with, my mother would say: “In death, no ill word should be uttered.” Like most of you I imagine, I was brought up not to criticize the dead, not to “pile on,” as it were, and to find some good things to say about even those I might have disagreed with. At the very least, especially after a cruel or painful death, to at least offer sympathy to the remaining family, or admit that the person held true to his principles (even if those principles I abhorred).
Okay, with respect to John McCain, I do that here and now: we should extend our sympathies to his family. And we can—begrudgingly perhaps—find a certain logic in his praxis and vision of the world and for America. We can also regret the painful way in which he died. And, yes, pray for his immortal soul.
But there, I submit, all sympathy from me stops. For McCain for thirty-five years exercised a nefarious and terrible influence on American foreign policy (in the House of Representatives from 1983-1987; in the Senate from 1997-2018), and almost as bad an influence on American domestic politics (e.g., his vote not to repeal Obamacare, his hatred for the Confederacy, his eagerness to spread the fake “Steele Dossier,” and much more).
McCain was the consummate insider, an example par excellence of all that is wrong and evil about the Potomac Deep State. It was he and others (like Mitt Romney) who incarnated a Republican Party that was corrupt in philosophy, bought-and-paid for by the globalists and international corporate interests, and cowed by and scared to death of those farther Left, an elitist old-boys club that in reality despised those same folks that Hillary Clinton would call the “deplorables.”
And it was he—like Romney and, yes, the Bushes—who continued a blatant and unapologetic betrayal of the sincere wishes and views of those “deplorables,” those conservatives at the grass roots, who finally made their voices known in 2016, and repudiated both McCain and Graham.
Of course, Graham has managed to worm his way back into the good graces of President Trump—the Donald forgives easier that I do!—and many former Never Trumpers have found their way into the present foreign policy establishment. They practice what I call a King Henry of Navarre vision: the king was a Protestant, but when offered the chance to become king of Catholic France, he conveniently converted, supposedly declaring: “Paris is worth a Mass.”
Indeed, the battle—the war between those war hawk, globalist Neoconservatives (ex-Never Trumpers) who had a purportedly “road to Damascus conversion” after Donald Trump’s election and those who actually believe in a “make America great again” America First agenda—continues to rage.
That is part of John McCain’s legacy—that, and a fractious Republican Party still dominated in part by his globalist nostrums, his fanatical desire to impose “liberal democracy” across the face of the world, even if it takes the life of every American boy (and girl) of fighting age, even if it bankrupts the nation in the process.
So, I pray for the repose of John McCain’s soul, but I cannot honor his service nor his accomplishments, such as they were. America—and the world—would have been far better had he not been involved in our politics and our culture.
Here follows Pat Buchanan’s view.
Are the Interventionists Now Leaderless?
By Patrick J. Buchanan Tuesday - August 28, 2018
"McCain's Death Leaves Void" ran The Wall Street Journal headline over a front-page story that began: "The death of John McCain will leave Congress without perhaps its loudest voice in support of the robust internationalism that has defined the country's security relations since World War II."
Certainly, the passing of the senator whose life story will dominate the news until he is buried at his alma mater, the Naval Academy, on Sunday, leaves America's interventionists without their greatest champion. No one around has the prestige or media following of McCain.
And the cause he championed, compulsive intervention in foreign quarrels to face down dictators and bring democrats to power, appears to be a cause whose time has passed.
When 9/11 occurred, America was united in crushing the al-Qaida terrorists who perpetrated the atrocities. John McCain then backed President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, which had no role in the attacks.
During Barack Obama's presidency, he slipped into northern Syria to cheer rebels who had arisen to overthrow President Bashar Assad, an insurgency that led to a seven-year civil war and one of the great humanitarian disasters of our time.
McCain supported the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic, right up to Russia's border. When Georgia invaded South Ossetia in 2008, and was expelled by the Russian army, McCain roared, "We are all Georgians now!"
He urged intervention. But Bush, his approval rating scraping bottom, had had enough of the neocon crusades for democracy.
McCain's contempt for Vladimir Putin was unconstrained. When crowds gathered in Maidan Square in Kiev to overthrow an elected pro-Russian president, McCain was there, cheering them on. He supported sending arms to the Ukrainian army to fight pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass. He backed U.S. support for Saudi intervention in Yemen. And this war, too, proved to be a humanitarian disaster.
John McCain was a war hawk, and proud of it. But by 2006, the wars he had championed had cost the Republican Party both houses of Congress. In 2008, when he was on the ballot, those wars helped cost him the presidency.
By 2016, the Republican majority would turn its back on McCain and his protege, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and nominate Donald Trump, who said he would seek to get along with Russia and extricate America from the wars into which McCain had helped plunge the country.
Yet, while interventionism now has no great champion and has proven unable to rally an American majority, it retains a residual momentum. This compulsion is pushing us to continue backing the Saudi war in Yemen and to seek regime change in Iran.
Yet if either of these enterprises holds any prospect of bringing about a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East, no one has made the case.
While the foreign policy that won the Cold War, containment, was articulated by George Kennan and pursued by presidents from Truman to Bush I, no grand strategy for the post-Cold War era has ever been embraced by a majority of Americans. Bush I's "New World Order" was rejected by Ross Perot's economic patriots and Bill Clinton's baby boomers who wanted to spend America's peace dividend from our Cold War victory on America's home front.
As for the Bush II crusades for democracy "to end tyranny in our world," the fruits of that Wilsonian idealism turned into ashes in our mouths.
But if the foreign policy agendas of Bush I and Bush II, along with McCain's interventionism, have been tried and found wanting, what is America's grand strategy? What are the great goals of U.S. foreign policy? What are the vital interests for which all, or almost all Americans, believe we should fight?
"Take away this pudding; it has no theme," said Churchill. Britain has lost an empire, but not yet found a role, was the crushing comment of Dean Acheson in 1962.
Both statements appear to apply to U.S. foreign policy in 2018.
We are bombing and fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, partly John McCain's legacy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sent a virtual ultimatum to Iran. We have told North Korea, a nuclear power with the world's fourth-largest army, either to denuclearize or the U.S. may use its military might to get the job done.
We are challenging Beijing in its claimed territorial waters of the South China Sea. From South Korea to Estonia, we are committed by solemn treaty to go to war if any one of dozens of nations is attacked.
Now one hears talk of an "Arab NATO" to confront the ayatollah's Iran and its Shiite allies. Lest we forget, ISIS and al-Qaida are Sunni.
With all these war guarantees, the odds are excellent that one day we are going to be dragged in yet another war that the American people will sour upon soon after it begins.
Where is the American Kennan of the new century?