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New Europe, brought to you by John McCain

Having long secured the GOP nomination, John McCain has had plenty of opportunity for tacking back to the centre. It was to be expected that he chose to do precisely that in a recent foreign policy speech. In doing so, he has however angered the conservative wing of his party, as a Cliff Kincaid piece on GOPUSA demonstrates:
[I]f the liberals get beyond their differences with McCain on Iraq, they will not only vote for him but promote his agenda as president. Then, as Rush Limbaugh notes, it may eventually be possible to change the name of the United States of America: "We'll call ourselves New Europe." In the process, true conservatism as a political force will be finished in the U.S.

The tragedy of this approach is that it comes from a man who served his country in uniform and risked his life on behalf of the U.S. McCain would have been a natural choice to lead a campaign for restoration of American sovereignty in foreign affairs. He could have been "The American President Americans have been waiting for."
The piece, called 'McCain's Incoherent World Order' reveals yet another split in the Republican party: between sovereignists, or as Steve Clemons disparagingly calls them, 'pugnacious nationalists', and neoconservatives. McCain's politics are a choice for neoconservatism. Although McCain downplayed it in his speech, he still seems eager to go on foreign adventures.

The lesson McCain has drawn from the Bush administration is not that the neoconservative agenda of aggressive democracy promotion is wrong, but rather that the unilateral manner in which this was executed -- through Bush' 'coalition of the willing' and defiance of international law such as the Geneva conventions -- has been both unhelpful and wrong. Principles and pragmatism tend to coincide in McCain's politics. Partially because of that, though, it is difficult to see how he could bridge the gap with liberals with regard to Iraq.

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

• Neocons and Pragmatists Compete over Influence on McCain

40th Anniversary of Senator Fulbright's "Arrogance of Power" Speech


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Joe Noory on :

If you feel that way, then don't vote for him.

David on :

Excellent advice, Joe. I strongly encourage every voter to follow it.

Elisabetta on :

That is the first time anyone has called a naval fighter pilot as dependent on consensus building prior to action. The article seems to build upon the policy disagreements between the Log Cabin Republicans of the Buchanan ilk and and McCain into a fundamentally ideological schism. That is simply not true. It might have been true and had adverse electorate effects in a time of peace, but America will find itself on 'foreign adventures' for the next generation, at least. Moreover, McCain does not have a consistent ideology or doctrine of political governance. John McCain does what John McCain wants and it is impossible, even after the most cursory inspection of his voting record and tabled bills, to devine any over-arching principle or goal. He just finds a windmill and its on. It is not his most reassuring charateristic. Partially because of that, though, it is difficult to see how he could bridge the gap with liberals with regard to Iraq. What gap with liberals? Outside of campaigning and talkshows with the usual no-hopers (Kucinch....), what appropriations bill has ever been approved that does not give the President the money he asked for? not a one. There have been bills that attempted to tighten the strings on the military budget but they got defeated in the house (sometimes due to democratic defections) or were allowed to lapse. The democratic party does not want to be responsible for losing another war in the popular culture. Since Vietnam, there has been only one democratic president (Clinton was more of an opportunistic centrist than anything) and that didnt go to well.

Noory on :

All the better to be nimble. Don't they also call that nuanced? The only thing I see here is the application of a very old motive: the construction of dissent and concent of the very sort. You can count the parties on both side of teh argument on your hand. On the other hand, the balance of Americans who such a story attempts to influence has numbered more than 50% of the population in 5 of the last 8 presidential elections. In other words: the propaganda looks ridiculous. Trust me, I know what that looks like, I lived in the DDR. In fact, I was suggesting that Naane, our good Netherlander to not vote for him based on the very point that perhaps HE has a legitimate basis to not vote for him: the probability that he isn't a US citizen and as such can't do anything other than proudly not vote for him or anyone else running for President of the United States. So by all means, DON'T vote. Feel free to feel good about it, because those of us who want a clean election wish to see it unadulterated by people who have no ligitimate basis to influence it. Imagine it a [i]regime des bananes[/i] if you wish and continue to neglect the grey tint surrounding the Lisbon Treaty being forced upon a larger number of people who also coudn't vote on something they ligitimately SHOULD be able to. In fact, enjoy the notion that you can influence it if you wish as a sort of palliative distraction from that, even though a great many of us won't abide by it in the same way we don't countenance the manipulation of European elections. Knock yourselves out. We'll still be here. We'll maintain something more than a veneer of pluralism and participatory government. It may inspire in the long run, or perhaps just give rise the the same raft of rationalizations used so long to detest us, which will make us care even less about the quality of the invective directed at Americans as a people, however subtle as it's meant to seem. Have a nice day.

Nanne on :

Joe, You wildly overestimate my influence (or the delusions I would have about it). I do not imagine that I could affect American voters. Insofar as there is no viable consensus in America for contributing to the rule of law on an international level, I think my desire should be to inform Europeans of this so that we can act in accordance to further stability and protect our interests.

Joe Noory on :

"You wildly overestimate my influence (or the delusions I would have about it). I do not imagine that I could affect American voters. Insofar as there is no viable consensus in America for contributing to the rule of law on an international level," Are you high? Since when has "rule of law" meant being able to influence the election in a nation of which you aren't a citizen? You'r an educated man. You should know that what the protesters in the streets think of when they mention International law is their imagining that there is some big book or actual laws, and Officer O'Leary is going to come inforce it if you litter on the gilded sidewalk of International law. International law is the field of study of the interaction between international treaties and domestic law, or soverign laws as they must be interpreted to deal with matters between jurisdictions. If you want to "contribute" to it, you don't tell the Serbs who wanted to try Milosevic that their courts were unworthy of their own laws, and make a circus out of the display in the Hague that tried to prove that it was perfectly okay for laws to be imposed by people by bodies other than the system that a population puts on itself legitimately - functioning or otherwise. In fact I can't see where you can find a greater opportunity for tyranny, corruption and the absolute disempowerment of individuals that the internationalization of any laws. That - is an act of Empiriousness if there ever was one, and certainly beyond the fantastic rationalizations of those who contort America's actions to be unlawful, but take the EU's absorption of states as being entirely free of economic threats of disposession. Even I can see that, and I'm an Architect, not a parasitic IR grad. Indeed if you are so willing to comment on domestic affairs as they pertain to the US, I might believe you. But I have absolutely no reason to.

Nanne on :

Joe, The connection between the two points I wanted to make is perhaps not stated clearly enough. What I meant was that rather than trying to influence American voters, I would like to inform and perhaps ultimately influence European decision-makers (a target that is still far off). International law is almost entirely self-enforced, granted. There is a related saying 'parasitic' IR grads will remember, stating "almost all nations observe almost all principles of international law and almost all of their obligations almost all of the time". This goes into thinking on compliance. I disagree with the thinking behind it, as it ignores that some cases of non-compliance are far more salient than others. To put it plainly: it matters much more that the US follows the rules (call them voluntary, or whatever) than some powerless small dictatorship, and it matters much more that the US follows some of the rules than that it follows others. It's almost trivial to note that foreign policy is also domestic policy, and that the converse can also hold. What this post was about is a domestic disagreement on foreign policy, with domestic implications. It's true that I also took the last part in, but these are thin lines and I don't mean to spend much time worrying about lines and sensitivities.

Joe Noory on :

Actually, you need to understand that International Law isn't a "big holy book 'o law" at all. I know there are a lot of people for life to be oversimplified and quetly and blandly tyranical with a pleasant seeming social system and continental savoire faire, but trust me on this one - I grew up with it, and there ain't no such thing. My old man was a diplomat and a bona fide international lawyer. In fact, when he was 28 he had to go tell Stalin to stuff it... in person and by himself. So yes, what would he think of a raft load of people who loafed around long enough to get PhDs in International Relations, some having not even written a dissertation? He'd think them about as useful as head-lice in the grand scheme of things. The idea of listening to them talking in circles about microcredit for sewing machines, broadly interpreting international law to be a unelected form of global micromanagement, or somesuch even gives ME a headache, and I'm a lot more tolerant of that kind of idiocy than he ever was.

Nanne on :

Of course there is no book of international law, there are just treaties, protocols, a few institutions, etcetera. Like many on the right you seem to suffer from a form of cognitive dissonance on these, on the one hand analytically recognising that international law is not all that it is made up to be, whereas on the other hand railing against it as if it were some existential threat.

Joe Noory on :

The cognitive dissonance is not understanding what it is. As a body of law with jurispruidence and a structure or precedence, it is not the body of law that people on the left either a) want it to be or b) think that it is. To wit, [url=]International law[/url]: [i](n) international law, law of nations (the body of laws governing [b]relations between nations[/b])[/i] In other words, it's about the study of how one abides by treaties and national and local laws whose execution encouter contract, tort, crime problems, etc., that interact with others' national and local laws as they specifically relate to an actual contract or crime problem. In other words, that could not include things like a nation making all war illegal, and having an instrument to enforce it. Can you define it? Because I'd like to hear it. Is it something that is defined as an "attitude of some in the west" that can somehow become applicable to national and local laws? Can you tell me how the phrase can plausibly be bandied about to make, say, the US an "unlawful entity" or a "criminal entity" for invading Iraq, but the UK not one in Sierra Leone, France in the Ivory Coast, all of NATO in the Former Yugoslavia, Australia in East Timor, the inheritors of Soviet action in Afghanistan, etc. and ad nauseum back to the Battle of Hastings. It looks like what the advocates of this strange reinterpretation of international law are looking for are "global laws" which apply to people locally without their consent, or by their societies putting those laws on themselves in a manner that's ligitimate by social concensus of that society. All it does is dispose of legal systems and the right of a people to define their own laws to a "higher" body selected by people other than them. It's ridiculous. All it could ever do is liquidate functioning legal systems and be unenforcable in societies where law doesn't function. The "enlightened communitarians" might be able to bufallo themselves, but the second world, third world, and a great many people in the developed world will see it for what it is: a mechanism for others to impose laws from abroad. It would create a de facto global empirial tyranny with neither an identifiable single leader (but rather an unelected dirigstic class) nor a name, and would resemble the sort of public administration that resembled the herding of cattle, Communism, or Nazism. It will probably evolve to be given a soft image... one of concern for [i]you[/i]... family... the children, the old... etc. I suggest you reread "Brave New World" and keep an eye out for the banality with which this sort of soft tyranny is accepted by the dim. In this case, we're talking about very dim people who think themselves smart and humane - without realizing that without your rights, even if it sometimes isn't easy and comfortable, that one ultimately has been denied the core of their own being.

Pat Patterson on :

Are you sure you wanted to use the Log Cabin Republicans and Patrick Buchanan in the same sentence? The Log Cabin Republicans are generally seen as socially liberal and and support free markets, seeing as how they are one of the largest gay political organizations and the wealthiest in the nation. While Buchanan, at least not recently, has not referred to sodomites, is socially conservative and from some of his latest speeches seems more than content with government interference with the economy. I doubt if either the Log Cabin Republicans or Patrick Buchanan trade fund raising lists and only have each other on speed dial to try to create insults as fast as possible.

Elisabetta on :

Pat: as much as I would love to use 'Log Cabin Republicans of the Buchanan ilk' in a perfect world, I admit I typed true but mis-remembered (must have been those snipers). I meant know-nothings or john birch society. Anyone could make that mistake. I dont see any significance in that cognitive disconnect at all. Nope, nihil, nix, nada, bumpkis...what are you wearing?

Nanne on :

Good point about the Democrats. So far, they have only introduced legislation on withdrawal from Iraq that they knew would be vetoed or filibustered, and have not dared to actually use the one tool that they could use effectively, stopping funding. This might continue in the same way during a McCain presidency (if the Democrats maintain their majorities in Congress). Still, McCain could face larger difficulties with his 'other wars'. McCain does not have the same level of support among some important segments of the Republican party as Bush had in his day. I don't think that Rush Limbaugh is insignificant, or, to talk about another group, that James Dobson is insignificant. On the other hand, McCain does seem to have more support from independents, so he might be able to make up for that loss. Limbaugh and Dobson might also still get religion on McCain.

joe on :

It is always nice to be labeled by a leftist like Clemons. You just know someone is doing something right and it sure is not the David and his fellow travelers.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

[b]@ "Merkel" and "ANONYMOUS" Your comments were deleted because you abused the privilege to express your opinions here by linking REPEATEDLY to some strange Chinese website. [/b] This website is unrelated to your comments. For everybody else who is curiuos why I censored these comments. Merkel wrote comments like this [i]Joe: I have yet to see anyone suggesting that the slave trade wasn't wrong. I do recall you trying to paint Europeans as unique in their opposition to it (easy thing to do 200 years late), and having had nothing to do with it, while trying to paint the America that admitted to it's flaws on slavery as being eternally wrong on the matter. I'd also note that when one sees people weighing Germany down with the burden of their empirial past, it is nearly never an American.[/i] And the entire text was turned into a link to an Anti-CNN website. I don't mind that website, but it is an abuse of the opportunity to comment on Atlantic Review, if you disguise the link behind comments. Repeatedly linking to this site is spam. That is not to be tolerated. Moreover, please do not use the name "Merkel" or "Bush" or some other well-known personality. If you are too afraid to use your real name, then at least be a bit creative when inventing a pseudonym.

Joe Noory on :

Let's deconstruct, shall we? [i]"New Europe, brought to you by John McCain"[/i] In other words, Europeans can deflect responsibility the state of being that it ever finds itself in, because a nation across an ocean from Europe with a population 2/3 of Europe's. Does this line of thinking by some Europeans want anything else from the rest of humanity? Responsibility for, say, economy?, the weather?, to be told that they never burned a brick of coal? cut down a tree? had a factory? Anything else? Room service perhaps? Warm hand towel?

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