Candidate McCain: A Risky Choice

Chronique de Rodrigue Tremblay

"I believe that the Iraqi people will greet us as

Sen. John McCain, (March 20, 2003)
"As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are
taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and
they're moving back into Iraq."

Sen. John McCain, 2008 presumptive Republican
presidential nominee, (In Amman, Jordan, March 18,
“Iran obviously is on the path toward acquiring
nuclear weapons." ...“At the end of the day we cannot
allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

Sen. John McCain
“Anyone who worries about how long we [the United
States]’re in Iraq does not understand the military.”

Sen. John McCain
"John McCain will make [Dick] Cheney look like

Pat Buchanan, journalist and political figure
"McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided
missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they
hit. What happened when they [the missiles] get to the
ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the
lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
Many people write to me asking what I think of the
current batch of presidential candidates in the U.S.
—First, let me make a general observation. The
American political process, especially at the
presidential level, is inhuman and inefficient. It is
a gruesome meat grinder where candidates have to
campaign for months in primaries or caucuses in all 50
states, raise tens of millions dollars and see their
private lives exposed and criticized. With such a
system, it is no wonder that few Americans with high
intellect and character are willing to submit
themselves to such an ordeal. The current batch of
presidential candidates is the result of such a
system. You will find no great personalities of the
caliber of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Dwight Eisenhower or John F. Kennedy, even though the
more nutty ones have been eliminated. The three
remaining candidates are not the best of what America
can offer and afford.
Let me begin with the [presumptive Republican
presidential nominee, Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
->] My
appreciation is, on the whole, relatively negative.
On the positive side, Senator McCain has built a long
history of independence in the U.S. Senate, so much so
that he is often referred to as a maverick. For
example, Sen. McCain has displeased many Republicans
by supporting political finance reform, by denouncing
state torture and even by criticizing initially the
way the Bush-Cheney administration launched the Iraq
war. On the last issue, however, it can be said that
Sen. McCain has since backed off and he has aligned
himself more closely with the current Republican White
On the question of torture, Sen. McCain has promised
to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay.
He has declared that he would engage more actively in
climate talks (as long as China and India agreed to
emissions cuts). It can also be said that Sen. McCain
does not consider himself a “religious” candidate, and
I doubt very much that [he will be holding weekly Bible
as George W. Bush is reported having done within the
walls of the White House. These may be inconsequential
differences with the current administration, but I
think they are real.
On the negative side, however, the issues on which
Sen. McCain agrees with President George W. Bush and
Vice President Dick Cheney are much more numerous and
much more important. On most of the important issues,
it would be “more of the same” with John McCain. That
is why [President George W. Bush has said that he is
ready to do anything to have Senator John McCain
elected president and that he is going to raise funds
->] for him. Bush
knows perfectly well that a McCain presidency would be
like a third term for his own failed presidency.
Indeed, people who like what Bush has done or undone
during the last eight years should vote for McCain
with little fear of being disappointed. In particular,
they would love his militarism and his bellicose
character. On the other hand, those who have felt
betrayed or have been the victims of the Bush-Cheney
administration, and that includes the 81 percent of
Americans [who believe their country is on the wrong
should think twice before de facto extending the
disastrous Bush presidency one day further than
Let us look at the situation.
For one, Sen. McCain is expected, as one commentator
put it, to behave as a George W. Bush on steroids.
Some go as far as depicting him as a candidate who
aspires to become President McBush, because so many of his
policies would duplicate Bush's policies. For example,
Sen. McCain is [partisan of the imperial presidency
advanced and practiced in recent years by the
Bush-Cheney administration. As recently as last May 6,
he confirmed that if he were elected President, he
would enthusiastically throw out the restraint on
power established by the constitutional checks and
balances and would embrace [the Bush-Cheney's claim of
near absolute executive power.
McCain is especially worried that the courts could
stick to the letter and spirit of the U.S.
Constitution and reject attempts by the President to
establish a quasi dictatorship while dismissing
Congress' prerogatives. [In McCain's words,
presidential executive power in the U.S.
is too constrained by a judiciary that "show[s] little
regard for the authority of the president." On this
very question, however, Sen. McCain seems to want it
both ways. Is this sincere or is it solely a way to
create confusion? For instance, on May 15, he tried to
distance himself from the Bush-Cheney administration
and professed that he now embraces [the constitutional
concept of checks and balances.
Which McCain is the real McCain? Obviously, further
clarifications are urgently needed.
Secondly, on foreign policy more than anywhere else,
McCain can be expected to be a McBush plus. He can be
expected to be a mixture of a simplistic George W.
Bush and of a rabidly nationalistic and
interventionist Dick Cheney, the last two always ready
to immorally bomb people and ask questions later.
[McCain stands ready to continue the Bush-Cheney's
insane foreign policy.
Therefore, no one should expect that he would be much
different than what this duo has stood for over the
last eight years, which is [aggressive global
disastrous unilateralism and
excessive militarism. Under
McCain, the United States would still be the global
bully of the planet. This will lead to more
geopolitical instability worldwide, more debt for the
United States, and more economic disruptions in trade,
especially for oil and commodities. There will be a
high economic price to pay with a McCain presidency,
make no mistake about it. The current slowdown or
recession may be only a harbinger of things to come.
Indeed, listening to him, [one has the feeling that
Sen. McCain
has never met a war he didn't like. For instance, if
it were only up to him, American soldiers would still
be in Vietnam, where he was a pilot, flying
fighter-bombers that dropped bombs over North Vietnam.
He has also said that he would like to intervene even
more directly in South America. And in the Middle
East, he has said that he would not mind having [an
American military occupation of that region for
another one hundred years.
->] In
McCain's view, Iraq is an American colony forever,
thus making sure [there will be permanent war and
permanent military occupation
->] in
that part of the world. In 1999, McCain even lobbied
the Clinton administration to have the U.S. invade
Yugoslavia with ground troops. America's Founders
would be turning in their graves if they could see
their cherished republic becoming a militaristic
Thirdly, [Sen. McCain does not seem to know or care
about international law.
Indeed, not only is Sen. McCain constantly confusing
the Sunnis and the Shi'ites in Iraq, after all these
years, but he seems to be completely lost as to [the
true meaning of "preemptive" war
->] versus
"preventive" war. A
preemptive war or a preemptive strike is a
self-defensive measure which is taken against a
foreign country that poses an imminent and inevitable
threat because it is about to invade, or is
threatening to attack shortly. A preventive war is
rather a war of choice or a war of aggression that is
launched in anticipation of a loss of security or
strategic advantage in a more or less far away future,
or to gain foreign territories and resources. While a
preemptive war is essentially defensive in nature, a
preventive war is fundamentally imperialistic. In
McCain's vocabulary, the two notions are confused
since he says that [he would not rule out launching
preemptive wars,
when in fact he means launching preventive wars of
aggression “against future enemies” who pose no
immediate threat to the United States.
A preemptive war can sometimes be legal and
justifiable, and be in accordance [with Article 51 of
the United Nations Charter.
But a preventive war, because it is a planned and
overt act of aggression, is never legal according to
international law.
Fourthly, it seems that Mr. McCain is a man who has a
chip on his shoulder, which is also reminiscent of
George W. Bush, and that makes him a dangerous man to
be trusted as leader of a heavily armed country like
the United States. For example, remembering his days
as a Navy pilot and a prisoner during the Vietnam War, nearly
fifty years ago, he now says that [he would like to go
to Cuba to “punish” those Cuban soldiers who hurt his
buddies in Vietnam.
The Cuban government has answered him that there were
no Cuban soldiers in Vietnam, but he keeps the grudge.
Another parallel with Mr. Bush is the fact that Mr.
McCain, who will be 72 years old in August, attended a
naval academy at Annapolis where he ranked near the
end of this class, 894th out of 899 students. Thus, he
cannot be expected to be a "philosopher president,"
and would be expected to lead with his guts rather
than his head.
Fifth, Sen. McCain is a neocon candidate. [The Israel
indeed, and the Neocons, that is to
say the small clique of misguided ideologues
who have whispered advice into George W. Bush's ears
for years, and [who have begun whispering into McCain's
would be delighted to have a militarily hawkish and
neoconservative McCain in the White House. For them,
this would be a dream come true. Their pet project—a
war against Iran—would become a reality.
Sen. McCain was born on a U.S. military base in a
foreign country (Panama), and he is the son and
grandson of military career individuals. That may
explain why he is enamored with anything military.
This is a man who believes there is a military
solution to any political problem. [He would be
expected to follow the necon-inspired so-called "Bush
->] He would
also be expected [to embrace the Neocons' imperialistic
and extreme Right Wing Project for the New American
(PNAC) that calls for American global dominance. Armed
with these two “doctrines”, Sen. McCain, if elected
President, would stand ready to launch future
gratuitous and illegal wars of aggression around the
world to ensure American supremacy. Those who liked
George W. Bush will love John McCain. They will get
all the fireworks and more. Whether this approach is
good for the United States, for its economy and for
its reputation, and for stability in the world, is
another matter.
Sixth, a John McCain as president would be a gift from
heaven to the American military industrial complex.
It's easy to see why. —Sen. McCain is on record for
advocating to increase the size of the U.S. armed
forces from the current 750,000 to 900,000 members.
Under his governance, the Pentagon and [a host of
defense contractors would see the U.S. defense budget,
already bloated to a point of being larger than the
defense spending of all 191 other countries taken
together, would increase even further. Another red
flag is the fact that [McCain has surrounded himself
with a host of far right lobbyists
->] to run
his campaign and raise money. This means that if ever
he is elected, he will be a prisoner of these far
right elements. Not a promising perspective.
Seventh, Senator John McCain has supported George W.
Bush's huge tax cuts for the rich, which have resulted
in large budget deficits and which have contributed so
much to placing the United States in its current
precarious economic situation, that is to say, [being
saddled with a falling currency
and a spreading financial crisis. It
is no wonder that George W. Bush has enthusiastically
endorsed John McCain, although such an endorsement
could prove to be a double-edged sword, since Bush's
approval rating in the U.S. is the lowest of any
American president, while a large majority of
Americans believe their country is heading in the
wrong direction.
Eighth, McCain's personal character is open to
question. He is known, and this from his early
childhood, to be [prone to sudden and uncontrollable
fits of temper tantrums.
It is reported by biographer Robert Timberg (“John
McCain: An American Odyssey”) that right up into his
twenties, he remained a strikingly violent man, "ready
to fight at the drop of a hat". This rage seems to be
at the core of his personality: describing his own
childhood, McCain has admitted to having a quick
temper and a short fuse (see his book “Worth the
Fighting for: A Memoir”) and he has confessed that as
a youngster “at the smallest provocation I would go
off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the
floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath
until I blacked out!” Then, his parents would be
forced to soak him in cold water, clothes and all, to
wake him up.
A man with such a character is a dangerous man to be
entrusted with the responsibility of custody of
nuclear weapons. [Even some of his Republican Senate
say that he is too reckless to be commander-in-chief.
And this is on top of his aggressive militarist stance
in foreign policy and his obvious and avowed lack of
knowledge in economic matters.
Ninth, there is the legitimate question of his age and
personal health. The New York Times has recently been
complaining about the lack of medical information
regarding the presumptive Republican candidate and how
little people know about his health. After all, this
is not a trivial matter, since Sen. McCain will be 72
years old in August and [he is recovering from an
August 2000 surgery for a melanoma cancer,
the deadliest of all cancers. [A recently released
medical report
does not alleviate a bit concerns about this very
And ten: Since the media have criticized Senator Barak
Obama [] for
his close association with an outspoken black
minister, it is worth noting that Senator John McCain
has also been endorsed by probably [one of the worst
religious bigots in the U.S. today, [Texan
anti-Catholic televangelist John Hagee.
Let us remember that televangelist (San Antonio
megachurch) leader John Hagee, has said that the 2005
hurricane Katrina was God's punishment to New Orleans;
he has also referred to the Roman Catholic Church as
"the great whore" and called it a "false cult system"
and "the apostate church." (There are 60 million
Catholics in the U. S. and they could resent such
insinuations.) And to top that, he has also declared
that God sent [Adolf] Hitler [to perpetrate the
in order to force Jews to move to Israel!
Therefore, it is certainly legitimate to ask why there
is all the media attention on Senator Barack Obama's
association with a controversial pastor, and hardly
any directed at Senator McCain's association with
another controversial pastor. Does this not smack of
double standards?
In conclusion, when all the dots are connected, it
would seem to be clear: Senator "100 Years" John
McCain must be considered a man too dangerous and too
unpredictable to be entrusted with the presidency of a
heavily armed country. Do Americans really want a man
whom some call "Senator Hothead", to become
"President Hothead" and place him in a position of
high responsibility? Let's hope that enough Americans
will reflect about all that before the events unfold,
not after. If Americans really believe that their
country is headed in the wrong direction, does it
really make sense to line up behind a candidate who
wants to go even further in the same direction?

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