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British Foreign Secretary Derides Russia Policy Backed by McCain

By Glenn Kessler
Sen. John McCain has repeatedly proclaimed that it is time to kick Russia out of the "Group of Eight" organization of industrial powers, even before Russia's recent conflict with Georgia. But the idea has not been embraced by many foreign policy experts, who tend to view it as needlessly provocative.

Today, the top diplomat of one of the U.S.'s closest allies, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, weighed in, calling the notion "knee-jerk," though he did not mention McCain's name.

In a tough speech delivered in Kiev, Ukraine, Miliband said Russia will face consequences for its actions in Georgia. But he added: "In all international institutions, we need to review our relations with Russia. I do not apologize for rejecting knee-jerk calls for Russia to be expelled from the G8, or for EU-Russia or NATO-Russia relations to be broken. But we do need to examine the nature, depth and breadth of relations with Russia."

The Bush administration has also been cool to the idea of kicking Russia out of the G8, which holds an annual summit of leaders. The foreign ministers other seven members -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan -- today did issue a statement condemning the actions of Russia, "a fellow G8 member," particularly its recognition this week of two separatist regions.

In any case, the United States can not kick Russia out of the G8 unilaterally.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 27, 2008; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain , National Security  
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John McCain was known as "John Wayne McCain" while in attendance at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for obvious reasons. His favorite sobriquet of "maverick" is, and always has been, a cover for his inability to follow the rules and his penchant for knee-jerk decisions, both of which are amply evident in his largely unvetted choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. McCain's proclivity to shoot from the hip is a life-long trait, stemming from a pronounced tendency toward rebellion against his naval officer father and a distaste for following prescribed courses of studies when in school. The following transcript from a CNN program called "McCain Revealed" shows how these characteristics almost got McCain killed during a training flight while in naval air school in Texas:

JOHN KING: His next proving ground was one chosen for him--Annapolis. Duty eclipsed desire. The military legacy of his father and grandfather trumped McCain's huge love of literature and his dream of a liberal arts education at Princeton or the University of Virginia.

MCCAIN: I think I knew I was going to go to the Naval Academy, and I'm sure that part of my excuse for being rebellious was that I wanted to go to one of those schools. By the way, it's by no means certain that I could have gotten in.

CHUCK LARSON: He accepted it, although he rebelled occasionally.

KING: Chuck Larson met fellow midshipman John McCain in 1955. Everyone knew both McCain's family lineage and his bad boy reputation. Larson and McCain hit it off. The "Bad Bunch" was formed.

LARSON: A group that liked to have fun, and, of course, we were always looking for dates. Women were very attracted to John.

FRANK AMBOA: Socially, it was very wise to hang out with John because you'd get invited to a lot of parties.

KING: Frank Amboa was John McCain's roommate at Annapolis. Amboa remembers his first encounter with his roommate's father, a highly decorated naval captain, the fall of 1955.

AMBOA: John had gotten up and gone over to the sink and got a glass of water and threw it on us, so that deteriorated into melee and water fight, and in the midst of this there came two knocks on the door. So we come to attention and I see John say, "Dad!"

MCCAIN: That was my dad who walked into the room. It was a ... it was a shocking moment for him.

AMBOA: And then I hear this gruff voice behind me, "This is a gross room. Carry on, gentlemen."

MCCAIN: My father was amazingly tolerant of some of my wild antics while at the Naval Academy.

AMBOA: And the captain said, "Goddammit, Johnny. No wonder you're flunking!"

KING: It was 1958. John McCain graduated Annapolis in the bottom five of his class [894 out of 899, in the .556 percentile], yet at the top of his game.

MCCAIN: I was going to be a naval aviator, and that's what I always wanted to do, and I wanted to fly airplanes by myself off of aircraft carriers. You know, I thought that was the height of glamor and excitement.

KING: Aviator training was rigorous, yet McCain loved happy hour and night life. His old Annapolis pal, now flight school roommate, Chuck Larson says McCain still preferred literature to required reading.

LARSON: John spent a lot of time reading, and he read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

KING: At the expense of maybe ...


KING: ... learning how to eject?

MCCAIN: Yes, at the expense of maybe learning my flight procedures, which I probably should have given a higher priority to.

KING: Both men were on a training mission in 1958 when McCain nearly paid the ultimate price ... for doing things his way.

LARSON: He took off one plane ahead of me, and he had an engine failure and crashed into the [Corpus Christi] bay, and he sunk to the bottom. He was sitting on the bottom of the aircraft, and he said, "You know, I remember there's some kind of a switch here somewhere that blows the canopy off the airplane, but I didn't read that book, and I don't know where the switch is, so I guess I'm dead."

KING: McCain managed to wrench the canopy open and barely survived.

KING: A near death experience. How do you think that changed him, if at all?

LARSON: I don't think it changed him at all. John went back to the room, went to bed for about two hours, got up and said, "Let's go over to the club."

The record shows that McCain lost five planes in all, only two of which were lost in wartime due to circumstances beyond his control, to wit: one was lost when a rocket accidentally slammed into his plane on the deck of the U.S.S. Forestall Aircraft Carrier and another was shot down by the enemy in North Vietnam while he was piloting it. As for the other three, we have already noted the crash in Corpus Christi Bay while attempting to land after an alleged engine failure. While stationed in the Mediterranean, McCain hit power lines and crashed while flying too low over the Iberian Peninsula. Finally, while flying to an Army-Navy football game in a navy training aircraft, he radioed ahead that he had experienced a "flameout," and ejected from the plane before it crashed.

The crash last described was termed "unavoidable" by the Navy (possibly on account of extreme indulgence of his highly erratic behavior due to the fact that his father and grandfather concluded their naval careers as four-star admirals); but was it really unavoidable? According to Wikipedia, a "flameout" simply refers to "the failure of a jet engine caused by the extinction of the flame in the combustion chamber. It can be caused by a number of factors, including fuel exhaustion...." Obviously, "fuel exhaustion" is a euphemism for running out of fuel. You will recall what McCain said about doing extraneous things "at the expense of maybe learning my flight procedures, which I probably should have given a higher priority to." Could it be that McCain simply hopped in a jet without making sure it had enough fuel to reach his destination?

This is what scares me so badly about John McCain. He has flown by the seat of his pants all his life, and continues to do so. If McCain is elected President, I hope he does not wind up at the bottom of the bay (so to speak) with the whole country flying with him as his co-pilot if he makes a fatal miscalculation after failing to give sufficiently careful deliberation to a critical decision. In that case, "Whoops, I guess we're dead," will be a very sad commentary, indeed, on this country's inability to select Presidents who think deeply before they react.

Posted by: Gwain | September 2, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Here is a scary sneak preview of what McCain would be like in the White House. Let's go back to the Cold War and fight with can anyone take this grumpy, loose cannon seriously? No more pain, wasted money, human suffering and multiple war fronts. Don't vote for McCain.

Posted by: laurabunny | August 28, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Robert Cannon -
McCain was a POW? I didn't know that! In which war/"conflict"?

Posted by: SFAW | August 28, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

John McCain - the Bluster of Failure

Posted by: john mccutchen | August 27, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Remember what Pat Buchanan said. McCain will make Cheney look like Ghandi!

Posted by: Mary | August 27, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Now, now, you can't blame John McCain for his temper, or his loss of memory or even his constant changing of his positions on so many issues. He won't tell you because he is shy. But he was a POW. Tell others, pass it along. He was a POW and that tells you why he has so much trouble in so many areas of critical thinking. Give him a break. And let him achieve his foremost selfless desire. To become Mr. War President. He can be better than the one we have.

Posted by: Robert Cannon | August 27, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

"McCain can win wars! He says he can win wars."

He's still fighting the Vietnam war. When he wins that one, we'll sit down and talk about just how good he was at winning it.

Posted by: Moud Dib | August 27, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

enough legacy based affirmative-action. mccain has never achieved his office or positions on his own merit mccain is over his head in som many areas this country cannot afford in capital,lives and time-wasted with 4-8 yrs of policies domestic and abroad that will further damage the country. americans better wake up, mccain is the dangerous and choice.

Posted by: jacade | August 27, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me there is still a fundamental question here about what exactly the Russians have done wrong. Consider those so-called "separatists" in South Ossetia who are aligned with Russia and supposedly provoking the central government in Georgia. Turns out that these folks are over 90% of the population of South Ossetia:

So how can we argue we're on the side of freedom and democracy when that's exactly what the South Ossetians are striving for by breaking away from Georgia in the first place? They've even held an election to affirm the fact.

Perhaps this is a stupid move on their part, and I doubt Russia is intervening out of purely altruistic motives, but again, how are we increasing the amount of freedom and democracy by backing the Georgians in their ill-conceived crackdown on South Ossetia?

And as for Abkhazia, they're calling for independence too, and asking the RUSSIANS to enter into a security agreement with them:

What exactly are we fighting for, again? And as for the Russian's abrupt use of overwhelming military force, don't we refer to that as "the Powell doctrine" over here?

Posted by: Bill in Chicago | August 27, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

...more Mavericky "straight-talk" friends

Posted by: Straight-Talk | August 27, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Just like Bush. The European diplomat warns against a knee-jerk response to a complicated problem and the American politician thumps is chest, barks "if it wasn't for us you'd be speaking German" and proceeds to insist that America must stand alone in a world full of appeasers!

How'd that work for us last time?

Posted by: thebob.bob | August 27, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Who does McCain really think he's kidding? This man will be sailing down the Alzheimer express in a year and he's completely delusional if he thinks he can rule the world just by trying to look and sound presidential.

McCain is stuck in the past and he's counting on his so called "war hero" status to win the office. He failed in war when he was captured and if he is magically elected he will fail as a president.

Bush was a train wreck, McCain would be a disaster.

Posted by: Bush + Cheney = McCain | August 27, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"Anonymous" wrote:

John McCain spent 5 and a half years in a place where he couldn't kick anyone out of anything. Where were you? Smoking dope and growing your hair long, I'll bet.

Leave him alone!


In the years after the Civil War, American politicians found they had to "wave the bloody shirt" of the War to be re-elected and to be popular. It didn't matter if the issue was where to locate the hitching posts on the main road in town, or whether the wells were drying up, or if the schoolhouse needed a new roof. Always, the answer had to be couched in terms of the war and their service.

And gradually, as the years passed, this no longer sounded logical to voters. It didn't mean the voters hadn't heard of the Civil War or the great sacrifices made. It meant that they didn't see any connection between service in that war, and deciding where the hitching posts should be installed. And they were right.

Today, the imaginary figures you conjure up, smoking dope, etc., are old, just like John McCain. They no longer represent most voters, who are still in the work force, maybe just entering the work force, and raising families. What they did or didn't do in the 1960s does not have any connection today to who has the best way to resolve the credit crisis or to create jobs instead of shipping them overseas, or to make health insurance available to everyone. It's exactly like the old "waving the bloody shirt" tactic. At some point, both through repetition and the passing of previous generations, it loses all power.

That time has long passed for McCain's idea that the answer to every political and moral failing is to say, "but I was a POW." You were. We honor your service. Now what does that have to do with your bellicose, oversimplified, foreign policy views--rejected just today by the UK Foreign Minister on some points--or your combination of blind loyalty to failed Bush economic policies and lack of economic insight to form new ones--or your belief that women cannot be allowed to make medical choices about their own bodies? Not a whole lot.

Posted by: Fairfax Voter | August 27, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's some Mavericky "straight-talk" friends!

Posted by: Bu$h Wacked | August 27, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

McCain has as much brain as a bag of wonder he graduated 994th out of 997 students. If he weren't a successful male gigolo, he'd be on a bender somewhere.

Posted by: playa | August 27, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

John McCain spent 5 and a half years in a place where he couldn't kick anyone out of anything. Where were you? Smoking dope and growing your hair long, I'll bet.

Leave him alone!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 27, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

It's going to be fun tonight! Here's the game: see how many people you can identify whose words are stolen by Plagiarist-Joe and used in his speech - without attribution. If you get:

0-10 right = you are an ignoramus who would vote for anybody, including a liar and plagiarist
11-100 right = you are not a totally brain-dead democrat, and there might be hope for you
101-1000 right = you actually seem to have some discernment and ethics and probably did not cheat on your law school exam
1001+ = you are a winner! you are clearly too smart for the hope-change, change-hope, hopeable-change, changeable-hope BS and will vote for somebody other than sweetie hussein.


Posted by: ALEX H. | August 27, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

McCain can win wars! He says he can win wars. How? He hasn't even won any of the ones he's been a part of.

Answer: Start a few more! He's sure to win at least one if there's five or six going on at once! Good job Johnny! Go Johnny Go! Win those wars like only you can Daddy-o!

Posted by: George's Rug Cat, WV | August 27, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse


WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain arrived late at his Senate office on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. “This is war,” he murmured to his aides. The sound of scrambling fighter planes rattled the windows, sending a tremor of panic through the room.

Erik Jacobs for The New York Times
John McCain said he had consulted Henry A. Kissinger on foreign policy before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Within hours, Mr. McCain, the Vietnam War hero and famed straight talker of the 2000 Republican primary, had taken on a new role: the leading advocate of taking the American retaliation against Al Qaeda far beyond Afghanistan. In a marathon of television and radio appearances, Mr. McCain recited a short list of other countries said to support terrorism, invariably including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

“There is a system out there or network, and that network is going to have to be attacked,” Mr. McCain said the next morning on ABC News. “It isn’t just Afghanistan,” he added, on MSNBC. “I don’t think if you got bin Laden tomorrow that the threat has disappeared,” he said on CBS, pointing toward other countries in the Middle East.

Within a month he made clear his priority. “Very obviously Iraq is the first country,” he declared on CNN. By Jan. 2, Mr. McCain was on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, yelling to a crowd of sailors and airmen: “Next up, Baghdad!”

Now, as Mr. McCain prepares to accept the Republican presidential nomination, his response to the attacks of Sept. 11 opens a window onto how he might approach the gravest responsibilities of a potential commander in chief. Like many, he immediately recalibrated his assessment of the unseen risks to America’s security. But he also began to suggest that he saw a new “opportunity” to deter other potential foes by punishing not only Al Qaeda but also Iraq.

“Just as Sept. 11 revolutionized our resolve to defeat our enemies, so has it brought into focus the opportunities we now have to secure and expand our freedom,” Mr. McCain told a NATO conference in Munich in early 2002, urging the Europeans to join what he portrayed as an all but certain assault on Saddam Hussein. “A better world is already emerging from the rubble.”

To his admirers, Mr. McCain’s tough response to Sept. 11 is at the heart of his appeal. They argue that he displayed the same decisiveness again last week in his swift calls to penalize Russia for its incursion into Georgia, in part by sending peacekeepers to police its border.

His critics charge that the emotion of Sept. 11 overwhelmed his former cool-eyed caution about deploying American troops without a clear national interest and a well-defined exit, turning him into a tool of the Bush administration in its push for a war to transform the region.

“He has the personality of a fighter pilot: when somebody stings you, you want to strike out,” said retired Gen. John H. Johns, a former friend and supporter of Mr. McCain who turned against him over the Iraq war. “Just like the American people, his reaction was: show me somebody to hit.”

Whether through ideology or instinct, though, Mr. McCain began making his case for invading Iraq to the public more than six months before the White House began to do the same. He drew on principles he learned growing up in a military family and on conclusions he formed as a prisoner in North Vietnam. He also returned to a conviction about “the common identity” of dangerous autocracies as far-flung as Serbia and North Korea that he had developed consulting with hawkish foreign policy thinkers to help sharpen the themes of his 2000 presidential campaign.

While pushing to take on Saddam Hussein, Mr. McCain also made arguments and statements that he may no longer wish to recall. He lauded the war planners he would later criticize, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Mr. McCain even volunteered that he would have given the same job to Mr. Cheney.) He urged support for the later-discredited Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi’s opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, and echoed some of its suspect accusations in the national media. And he advanced misleading assertions not only about Mr. Hussein’s supposed weapons programs but also about his possible ties to international terrorists, Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, Mr. McCain’s supporters note that he became an early critic of the administration’s execution of the occupation, and they credit him with pushing the troop “surge” that helped bring stability. Mr. McCain, though, stands by his support for the war and expresses no regrets about his advocacy.

In written answers to questions, he blamed “Iraq’s opacity under Saddam” for any misleading remarks he made about the peril it posed.

The Sept. 11 attacks “demonstrated the grave threat posed by a hostile regime, possessing weapons of mass destruction, and with reported ties to terrorists,” Mr. McCain wrote in an e-mail message on Friday. Given Mr. Hussein’s history of pursuing illegal weapons and his avowed hostility to the United States, “his regime posed a threat we had to take seriously.” The attacks were still a reminder, Mr. McCain added, of the importance of international action “to prevent outlaw states — like Iran today — from developing weapons of mass destruction.”

Formative Years

Mr. McCain has been debating questions about the use of military force far longer than most. He grew up in a family that had sent a son to every American war since 1776, and international relations were a staple of the McCain family dinner table. Mr. McCain grew up listening to his father, Adm. John S. McCain Jr., deliver lectures on “The Four Ocean Navy and the Soviet Threat,” closing with a slide of an image he considered the ultimate factor in the balance of power: a soldier marching through a rice paddy with a rifle at his shoulder.

“To quote Sherman, war is all hell and we need to fight it out and get it over with and that is when the killing stops,” recalled Joe McCain, Senator McCain’s younger brother.

Vietnam, for Senator McCain, reinforced those lessons. He has often said he blamed the Johnson administration’s pause in bombing for prolonging the war, and he credited President Richard M. Nixon’s renewed attacks with securing his release from a North Vietnamese prison. He has made the principle that the exercise of military power sets the bargaining table for international relations a consistent theme of his career ever since, and in his 2002 memoir he wrote that one of his lifelong convictions was “the imperative that American power never retreat in response to an inferior adversary’s provocation.”

But Mr. McCain also took away from Vietnam a second, restraining lesson: the necessity for broad domestic support for any military action. For years he opposed a string of interventions — in Lebanon, Haiti, Somalia, and, for a time, the Balkans — on the grounds that the public would balk at the loss of life without clear national interests. “The Vietnam thing,” he recently said.

In the late 1990s, however, while he was beginning to consider his 2000 presidential race, he started rebalancing his view of the needs to project American strength and to sustain public support. The 1995 massacre of 5,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica under NATO’s watch struck at his conscience, he has said, and in addition to America’s strategic national interests — in that case, the future and credibility of NATO — Mr. McCain began to speak more expansively about America’s moral obligations as the only remaining superpower.

His aides say he later described the American air strikes in Bosnia in 1996 and in Kosovo in 1999 as a parable of political leadership: Mr. McCain, Senator Bob Dole and others had rallied Congressional support for the strikes despite widespread public opposition, then watched approval soar after the intervention helped to bring peace.

“Americans elect their leaders to make these kinds of judgments,” Mr. McCain said in the e-mail message.

It was during the Balkan wars that Mr. McCain and his advisers read a 1997 article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page by William Kristol and David Brooks of The Weekly Standard — both now Op-Ed page columnists at The New York Times — promoting the idea of “national greatness” conservatism, defined by a more activist agenda at home and a more muscular role in the world.

“I wouldn’t call it a ‘eureka’ moment, but there was a sense that this is where we are headed and this is what we are trying to articulate and they have already done a lot of the work,” said John Weaver, a former McCain political adviser. “And, quite frankly, from a crass political point of view, we were in the making-friends business. The Weekly Standard represented a part of the primary electorate that we could get.”

Soon Mr. McCain and his aides were consulting regularly with the circle of hawkish foreign policy thinkers sometimes referred to as neoconservatives — including Mr. Kristol, Robert Kagan and Randy Scheunemann, a former aide to Mr. Dole who became a McCain campaign adviser — to develop the senator’s foreign policy ideas and instincts into the broad themes of a presidential campaign. (In his e-mail message, Mr. McCain noted that he had also consulted with friends like Henry A. Kissinger, known for a narrower view of American interests.)

One result was a series of speeches in which Mr. McCain called for “rogue state rollback.” He argued that disparate regional troublemakers, including Iraq, North Korea and Serbia, bore a common stamp: they were all autocracies. And as such, he contended, they were more likely to export terrorism, spread dangerous weapons, or start ethnic conflicts. In an early outline of what would become his initial response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. McCain argued that “swift and sure” retribution against any one of the rogue states was an essential deterrent to any of the others. But Mr. McCain’s advisers and aides say his “rogue state” speeches stopped short of the most sweeping international agenda put forth by Mr. Kristol, Mr. Kagan and their allies. Mr. McCain explicitly disavowed direct military action merely to advance American values, foreswearing any “global crusade” of interventions in favor of relying on covert and financial support for internal opposition groups.

As an example, he could point to his 1998 sponsorship of the Iraqi Liberation Act, which sought to direct nearly $100 million to Iraqis who hoped to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The bill, signed by President Bill Clinton, also endorsed the ouster of Mr. Hussein.

Mr. McCain said then that he doubted the United States could muster the political will to use ground troops to remove the Iraqi dictator any time soon. “It was much easier when Saddam Hussein was occupying Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia,” the senator told Fox News in November 1998. “We’d have to convince the American people that it’s worth again the sacrifice of American lives, because that would also be part of the price.”

Hard Calls

Mr. McCain spent the afternoon of Sept. 11 in a young aide’s studio apartment near the Capitol. There was no cable television, nothing but water in the kitchen, and the hallway reminded him of an old boxing gym. Evacuated from his office but stranded by traffic, he could not resist imagining himself at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. “There are not enough Secret Service agents in the world to keep me away from Washington and New York at a time like this,” Mr. McCain told an adviser.

Over the next days and weeks, however, Mr. McCain became almost as visible as he would have been as president. Broadcasters rushed to him as a patriotic icon and reassuring voice, and for weeks he was ubiquitous on the morning news programs, Sunday talk shows, cable news networks, and even late-night comedy shows.

In the spotlight, he pushed rogue state rollback one step further, arguing that the United States should go on the offensive as a warning to any other country that might condone such an attack. “These networks are well-embedded in some of these countries,” Mr. McCain said on Sept. 12, listing Iraq, Iran and Syria as potential targets of United States pressure. “We’re going to have to prove to them that we are very serious, and the price that they will pay will not only be for punishment but also deterrence.”

Although he had campaigned for President Bush during the 2000 general election, he was still largely frozen out of the White House because of animosities left over from the Republican primary. But after Mr. Bush declared he would hold responsible any country condoning terrorism, Mr. McCain called his leadership “magnificent” and his national security team the strongest “that has ever been assembled.” A few weeks later, Larry King of CNN asked whether he would have named Mr. Rumsfeld and Colin L. Powell to a McCain cabinet. “Oh, yes, and Cheney,” Mr. McCain answered, saying he, too, would have offered Mr. Cheney the vice presidency.

Even during the heat of the war in Afghanistan, Mr. McCain kept an eye on Iraq. To Jay Leno in mid-September, Mr. McCain said he believed “some other countries” had assisted Osama bin Laden, going on to suggest Iraq, Syria and Iran as potential suspects. In October 2001, when an Op-Ed page column in The New York Times speculated that Iraq, Russia or some other country might bear responsibility for that month’s anthrax mailings, Mr. McCain interrupted a question about Afghanistan from David Letterman on that night’s “Late Show.” “The second phase is Iraq,” Mr. McCain said, adding, “Some of this anthrax may — and I emphasize may — have come from Iraq.” (The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it came from a federal government laboratory in Maryland.) By October, United States and foreign intelligence agencies had said publicly that they doubted any cooperation between Mr. Hussein and Al Qaeda, noting Al Qaeda’s opposition to such secular nationalists. American intelligence officials soon declared that Mr. Hussein had not supported international terrorism for nearly a decade.

But when the Czech government said that before the attacks, one of the 9/11 hijackers had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence official, Mr. McCain seized the report as something close to a smoking gun. “The evidence is very clear,” he said three days later, in an Oct. 29 television interview. (Intelligence agencies quickly cast doubt on the meeting.)

Frustrated by the dearth of American intelligence about Iraq, Mr. McCain’s aides say, he had long sought to learn as much as he could from Iraqi opposition figures in exile, including Mr. Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. Over the years, Mr. McCain often urged support for the group, saying it had “significant support, in my view, inside Iraq.”

After Sept. 11, Mr. Chalabi’s group said an Iraqi emissary had once met with Osama bin Laden, and brought forward two Iraqi defectors who described terrorist training camps and biological weapons efforts. At times, Mr. McCain seemed to echo their accusations, citing the “two defectors” in a television interview and attesting to “credible reports of involvement between Iraqi administration officials, Iraqi officials and the terrorists.”

Growing Impatient

But United States intelligence officials had doubts about Mr. Chalabi at the time and have since discredited his group. In 2006, Mr. McCain acknowledged to The New Republic that he had been “too enamored with the I.N.C.” In his e-mail message, though, he said he never relied on the group for information about Iraq’s weapons program.

At a European security conference in February 2002, when the Bush administration still publicly maintained that it had made no decision about moving against Iraq, Mr. McCain described an invasion as all but certain. “A terrorist resides in Baghdad,” he said, adding, “A day of reckoning is approaching.”

Regime change in Iraq in addition to Afghanistan, he argued, would compel other sponsors of terrorism to mend their ways, “accomplishing by example what we would otherwise have to pursue through force of arms.”

Finally, as American troops massed in the Persian Gulf in early 2003, Mr. McCain grew impatient, his aides say, concerned that the White House was failing to act as the hot desert summer neared. Waiting, he warned in a speech in Washington, risked squandering the public and international support aroused by Sept. 11. “Does anyone really believe that the world’s will to contain Saddam won’t eventually collapse as utterly as it did in the 1990s?” Mr. McCain asked.

In retrospect, some of Mr. McCain’s critics now accuse him of looking for a pretext to justify the war. “McCain was hell-bent for leather: ‘Saddam Hussein is a bad guy, we have got to teach him, let’s send a message to the other people in the Middle East,’ ” said Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts.

But Mr. McCain, in his e-mail message, said the reason he had supported the war was the evolving threat from Mr. Hussein.

“I believe voters elect their leaders based on their experience and judgment — their ability to make hard calls, for instance, on matters of war and peace,” he wrote. “It’s important to get them right.”

Posted by: Anonymous | August 27, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

McCain is a dumb old war mongerer who disguises nationalism as patriotism, for those that still support Bush/McCain I'll translate it into American for you:


There, now your brain cell can carry on pretending America is great and wonderful

Posted by: Chester | August 27, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | August 27, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

'Bizarre' is one word for McCain's hyper-nationalistic chest-thumping. He is insisting that oppressed people around the world "do not resent or resist America's democratic influence in the world".

Nope, no resentment at all - especially not in the insane neocon proving ground for exporting democracy...IRAQ!

Posted by: McBush | August 27, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

You're a financial planner and you want to invest my retirement savings in scratch tickets?"
"Trust me. I was a POW."

"You're a plumber and you're going to fix my clog with a stick of dynamite?"
"Trust me. I was a POW."

"You're a firefighter and you're going to put out the flames with gasoline?"
"Trust me. I was a POW."

"You're a jeweler and you're going to fix my Rolex with a hammer?"
"Trust me. I was a POW."

"You’re a nuclear physicist and you're giving out 'free samples' of enriched uranium to children?"
"Trust me. I was a POW."

"You're a surgeon and you're using a rusty hacksaw?"
"Trust me. I was a POW."

"You’re John McCain, the Republican candidate for president and you want to fix the country's problems even though you don’t know much about the economy,

-You McCain, don’t know how to use the internet,

-You McCain, don’t know how many houses you own or what kind of car you drive,

-You McCain, admit you don’t think clearly when you’re tired,

-You McCain, make frequent gaffes on foreign policy,

-You McCain, think offshore drilling is a short-term solution to high gas prices,

-You McCain, support torture and keeping the Guantanamo prison open,

-You McCain, make rash decisions and statements from which you have to quickly backtrack,

-You McCain, have an explosive temper on a hair trigger,

-Your idea of health care reform McCain, is 'wear more sunscreen,

-You're for stem cell research McCain, except when it's done on stem cells because you consider them all American citizens,

and you McCain, voted to support the policies of the worst president ever (Bush) 100 percent of the time this year?"

"Trust me, my friends. I was a POW."

Only in rightwing lunitic fringe Republicanland....

Posted by: McCain = Bush/Cheney | August 27, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

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