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McCain Rules Out Military Action Against Russia

By Robert Barnes
BIRMINGHAM, Mich. -- Standing behind a podium and in front of a row of flags, two trusted senators ready to do his bidding, it was easy for John McCain to forgot for a moment he was just running for president.

Asked to respond to criticism that his hard-line attitude toward Russia might result in "less cooperation rather than more,'' McCain responded: "If I may be so bold, there was another president'' -- he caught himself and started again -- "at one time, there was a president named Ronald Reagan who spoke very strongly about America's advocacy for democracy and freedom.

"He was criticized at that time.''

With the man he pops as presumptuous taking R&R in Hawaii this week, McCain did all he could this week to look like President McCain, emphasizing his experience and foreign policy expertise. He repeatedly mentioned how many times he had been to the region, let it be known that he has talked daily with Georgian president Mikheil Saaskasvili since the crisis began and made clear that there had been times when he thought President Bush's response could have been stronger.

He provided a primer for why Americans should care about the "tiny little democracy'' and tried to tie the foreign crisis with a domestic one: oil. Georgia is "part of a strategic energy corridor affecting individual lives far beyond'' the region, he said.

The danger for McCain was to not overdo it. Too much could look too political, and coming off as too tough with Russia could raise scary memories.

McCain waited to be asked by reporters, but then ruled out any military action.

"I don't think we're going to reignite the Cold War here with Russia,'' McCain said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "I think this is a very serious situation but I don't see it as a return to nuclear standoffs, etcetera, etcetera. I want to have a dialogue with the Russians, I want them to get out of Georgian territory as quickly as possible and I'm interested in good relations between the United States and Russia.''

He also was uninterested in comparing his position with that of Democratic rival Barack Obama, although allies and advisers to the two men had done that.

Asked about comments from an Obama adviser that McCain's statements have been "belligerent" and aggressive, McCain took the high road.

"This isn't a time for partisanship, sniping between campaigns,'' he said; thousands of people were either dead, wounded or homeless.

But reporters pointed out that Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.), one of McCain's most ardent and vocal supporters -- and someone who also happened to be standing next to him -- had done just that.

Obama's initial statement of what Lieberman called "moral neutrality'' was another sign that the "inexperience'' of the senator from Illinois, Lieberman had said.

McCain repeated his view that the debate over which candidate had performed better in addressing the crisis should wait.

McCain earlier in the week had said Bush should send Secretary of State Rice to the region. Having no secretary of state of his own, McCain said Lieberman and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), both fixtures on his campaign plane, would be heading to Georgia.

Like McCain, both men are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. But McCain made it sound as if they were his emissaries.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 14, 2008; 12:56 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Issues , John McCain , National Security  
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Comments

For someone to say we are not involved in a current cold war with Russia, they are stupid! It is still going on.

Posted by: dfresh | August 15, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Russia is part of the free world! All of you anti-Russian people have it wrong and are being manipulated by the war mongering American propaganda machine. Russia is a constitutional republic with strong democratic principals like the US. If Russia wanted to rebuild the USSR the situation would be much worse and Putin would be a dictator. Russia is after stability and it is the US's meddling in Russia's back yard that is the problem. How would you feel if Russia was in our back yard? The provocateur in the matter is the US Republican Party looking to continue the war and oil economy. The cold war relics are completing out of touch with Russian progress. Keep in mind that Russia is a constitutional republic with strong democratic principles like the US. Stalin was Georgian and these are tough Mafioso type characters and can not be trusted. This is about US expansionism not Russian expansionism. This ignorance of Americans is overwhelming and this cold war paranoia has made people blind with fear and easy pawns for the Republican Party to garner fear votes. The outlandish assumptions made about Russia and Gerogia are comical. Same old politics.

Posted by: tRussia | August 15, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Our first impression of McCain's hard-line attitude toward Russia.

McCain appeared ready to drag America into a 3rd front the other day with his threatening Russia. Does America need someone who quick on the trigger of war right now? He has already embraced Bush on Iraq? Because of Stop Loss some of our sons and daughters have already served 2 tours in the war zones. Many are now serving their 3rd or 4th tours. We have children now who half of their lives have known nothing but war and in two years will be asked to serve somewhere in a war zone in this world perhaps in Afghanistan, or Iraq and now perhaps fighting Russia. Peace has become a distance memory.

Already China has move ahead of the America in Manufacturing. After a 30 year program on energy savings Germany is in a better position to face the future then we are. Special interests like the Oil company executives need their profits in their lifetime at the expense of America’s future.

It not too late for America. Its not to late to save the future for our children. Thats why I’m voting for Obama.

Posted by: Bobby | August 15, 2008 2:55 AM | Report abuse

Our first impression of McCain's hard-line attitude toward Russia.

McCain appeared ready to drag America into a 3rd front the other day with his threatening Russia. Does America need someone who quick on the trigger of war right now? He has already embraced Bush on Iraq? Because of Stop Loss some of our sons and daughters have already served 2 tours in the war zones. Many are now serving their 3rd or 4th tours. We have children now who half of their lives have known nothing but war and in two years will be asked to serve somewhere in a war zone in this world perhaps in Afghanistan, or Iraq and now perhaps fighting Russia. Peace has become a distance memory.

Already China has move ahead of the America in Manufacturing. After a 30 year program on energy savings Germany is in a better position to face the future then we are. Special interests like the Oil company executives need their profits in their lifetime at the expense of America’s future.

It not too late for America. Its not to late to save the future for our children. Thats why I’m voting for Obama.

Posted by: Bobby | August 15, 2008 2:55 AM | Report abuse

John McCain's first wife lived years of sacrifice for this country - when you defend John McCain because of his service - please remember how he treated this wife. No loyality. No respect. He came back a party boy looking for a good time. People who have had character building experiences dont act that way. Tells me, any goof ball can be in the army, can get shot down in a plane, act like a blow hard which is what the other guys that were there say he was. John McCain is no different that "she was in remission" Edwards.

Posted by: ella | August 14, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Sex, Money and Power

Adultery cast a shadow on a person's ethics. It does not necessarily mean that the offending person is a bad person but it defines the person’s credibility and respect of the political office he/ she holds or aspired for.

John McCain had a well-documented affair on his first wife, former model Carol Shepp with his current wife, formerly Cindy Lou Hensley. Cindy was much young, beautiful and with lots Budweiser money to support his political ambition. The LA Times had reported that McCain obtained an Arizona marriage license on March 6, 1980, while still legally married to Carol. On Friday, February 12, 1999 when questioned about the affair by CNN's Bernard Shaw, the Arizona senator said. "Let me say that I am responsible for the breakup of my first marriage. I will not discuss or talk about that any more than that. If someone wants to criticize me for that, that's fine."

Later on McCain went on to cheat on his second wife Cindy with a much young and beautiful lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Vicki Iseman represented telecommunication companies on the Senate Commerce Committee that John chaired. They contributed tens of thousands of dollars to McCain's campaigns. In return, McCain championed de-regulation for them. He pressured the FCC to uphold marketing agreements that allows television companies to control two stations in the same city and introduced a bill to create tax incentives program for them.

Two times, he tried to advance legislation that would permit a company to control television stations in overlapping markets. If John Edwards' political career is over, why isn't John McCain's? Is McCain credible enough to be trusted to serve as a President? Once a cheater shall always be a cheater. A man that cannot be faithful to his loving, self-sacrificing wives cannot be trusted to be faithful to the American people.

Posted by: Jesse | August 14, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Ok....Anonymous

TO GUNGHO

It doesn't matter to me who you favor for president. When you start denouncing Sen. McCain's military service and his time as a P.O.W, I have to speak up. It really shows your true colors....not to mention your lack of understanding of where to put a comma. You should be ashamed of yourself. That man was tortured in such a manner that to this day, he cannot raise his arms over his head. It makes my blood run cold to see the horrible and hateful remarks that the "enlightened" liberals make. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: GerryHudson | August 14, 2008 2:13 PM


I'll respond in typical GOP fashion. He volunteered didn't he? So he was just doin' his job, not any different than the thousands of others. He's no more heroic than the others that served. Of course he had a built in advantage - nepotism. Whine all you want Gerry - McCain isn't a god.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 2:51 PM


I never likened McCain to a "god". That was your word. I also do not think that anything in my comment can be construed as whining. I would feel the same way no matter WHAT American War Veteran that the barely literate GUNGHO was denouncing. At least you, anonymous, can put together a coherent sentence.

buh bye

Posted by: GerryHudson | August 14, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Hell, let him "play President" all he wants. Poor guy, doesn't really understand how all this election stuff works. We'll take him back to the "home" on November 5th.

Posted by: pedestrian | August 14, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad McCain has ruled out military action, he was soundining a little presumptuous, in fact "like he was President".

Posted by: OhNo | August 14, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

This is blowback from the Iraq war. Bush needed some token nations for his "coalition of the willing," so he armed and trained the Georgian military, while McCain's adviser and lobbyist Randy Scheunemann made crazy promises to them about NATO membership. The Georgians felt cocksure enough to invade South Ossetia, believing that we'd have their back if the Russians intervened.

Posted by: McBain | August 14, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Saakashvilli's attack more and more seems to be well prepared and politically motivated. Just read this:

http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSLE696364

Posted by: John | August 14, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure Obama is the right guy, but I am certain that McCan is the wrong guy for this time.

Posted by: Rick | August 14, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh lord..it's like Deja vu...please oh please vote for Obama.

Posted by: Chris | August 14, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

It's a good thing he's ruling out military action, otherwise I'd think he'd be flying over there himself - who else could we send with our troops tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan? Not to mention, of course, that Sen. McCain can't send them anyway.
This kind of fist-thumping in place of foreign policy and diplomacy is what got us in Iraq in the first place. Do we really need to do it again?
There is also the plain and simple truth that nothing we do short of military action will have much effect on the Russians.
Economic sanctions, political sanctions? With Europe held hostage to Russia and Georgia's oil and gas, we would stand alone.
It took long enough for McCain to come to this realization, far longer than it took Sen. Obama. We will need to work long and hard to rebuild our standing in the world and with Russia, before they will do more than laugh at us.

Posted by: Baycat57 | August 14, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gerry....

TO GUNGHO

It doesn't matter to me who you favor for president. When you start denouncing Sen. McCain's military service and his time as a P.O.W, I have to speak up. It really shows your true colors....not to mention your lack of understanding of where to put a comma. You should be ashamed of yourself. That man was tortured in such a manner that to this day, he cannot raise his arms over his head. It makes my blood run cold to see the horrible and hateful remarks that the "enlightened" liberals make. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: GerryHudson | August 14, 2008 2:13 PM


I'll respond in typical GOP fashion. He volunteered didn't he? So he was just doin' his job, not any different than the thousands of others. He's no more heroic than the others that served. Of course he had a built in advantage - nepotism. Whine all you want Gerry - McCain isn't a god.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

His attempts to look and act presidential this week have convinced me not to vote for McCain. He's got one track thinking and diplomacy doesn't appear to be much of a consideration. He proved to me that he doesn't have the temperment or intellect to be president. Maybe if it was still 1970, but he's not equipped to lead in 2008. His reaction to the georgia situation - and knowing his foreign policy directors role in the country all have an awful stench to it. I'll pass on McCain - I much prefer Obama's measured and well thought out approach.

Posted by: jdb | August 14, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Military Donors Back Ron Paul & Barack Obama:


The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign cash, looks at the 2007 money-raising and finds the following:

"In 2007, the 2008 presidential candidates raised $582.5 million and spent $481.2 million."

"In the 4th quarter of 2007, individuals in the Army, Navy and Air Force made those branches of the armed services the No. 13, No. 18 and No. 21, contributing industries, respectively. War opponent Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, received the most from donors in the military, collecting at least $212,000 from them. Another war opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, was second with about $94,000."

Full story here:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/02/military-donors.html

Posted by: casey | August 14, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Thank god we have President McCain in these hard times to jump in and interfere in the sticky situation that the State Department is facing. I'm sure they greatly apprecaite his constant speeches on the subject, and the fact that he's "talking to the President of Georgia every day." I'm sure the State Department welcomes McCain sending a "delegation" of two other ineffectual boobs to have absolutely no productive impact over there what-so-ever.

Thanks President McCain for bravely leading us during this tough time.

Here's another headline from this morning that might interest you:

"Study: Troops Deployed Abroad Gave Six Times More To Obama Than To McCain"

I wonder why.

Posted by: BB | August 14, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Standing behind a podium and in front of a row of flags, ..."

Wait a second. McCain isn't tall, so why was he standing behind the podium instead of standing on top of it? Or is it possible that Mr. Barnes has confused the words "podium" and "lecturn"?

Posted by: Writer | August 14, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

What a presumptuous, opportunistic, belligerent panderer this guy is! Oh cute - he's going to send his own 'diplomatic team' there! Wait a minute, he doesn't have any lobbyists working for Georgia on his staff does he?

Posted by: L. Oser | August 14, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Who died and made McCain the President?

McCain has come off sounding like a buffoon over the whole Georgia/Russia dust up. His beligerent bloviating has made him look like a "presumptuous","arrogant" dumbarse, of course most of us here already knew that about him.

Posted by: astral99 | August 14, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

TO GUNGHO

It doesn't matter to me who you favor for president. When you start denouncing Sen. McCain's military service and his time as a P.O.W, I have to speak up. It really shows your true colors....not to mention your lack of understanding of where to put a comma. You should be ashamed of yourself. That man was tortured in such a manner that to this day, he cannot raise his arms over his head. It makes my blood run cold to see the horrible and hateful remarks that the "enlightened" liberals make. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: GerryHudson | August 14, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Mccain, living in a fantasy world.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

McShame, always running around,talking about we can't surrender,he's the guy
who surrender,he gave up,when he was a p.o.w he did'nt get tortured like the rest
of the guys,he was the son of brass,all the VC had to do for McRat, was to give him cigarettes,and he song like a parrot.

OBAMA (08)

Posted by: GUNG HO | August 14, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

He's not The President. He never will be The President. Is this the Press anointing him The President. Consider the uproar over Obama's so-called Presidential pretensions by the so-called "liberal press". I think he looks like a tottering, wrinkled old white haired dude.
Bush\Cheney\McCain! No More Years!!

Posted by: thebob.bob | August 14, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I think the whole thing was a set-up by Cheney and the repug machine while Shrub was out of the country. Where the wheels came off was when we all learned that Georgia, or more importantly Saakashvili was "paying" McCain as a set-up lobbyist. Obviously, something like this would kill a Democrat, but it is par for the course in repug poly. .

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 14, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

McCain is exploiting the Georgia crisis for political gain and making amateur mistakes along the way. This man is not fit to be president.

http://nahnopenotquite.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/mccain-exploits-georgia-for-political-gain/

Posted by: Nah Nope | August 14, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I know McCain is long in the tooth, but you don't think he believes he is President, do you? I hope not.

Posted by: steveboyington | August 14, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you mention those reports that a McCain aide is still working as a lobbyist for the government of Georgia? This might explain part of this so-called maverick's enthusiasm for this region. I don't believe that McCain has denied these ties.

Posted by: gpbrown | August 14, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

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