Follow this link for a video of John McCain speaking about Afghanistan to the Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum on Saturday night.
It’s predictable stuff: Afghanistan is the vital battleground for human rights and democracy; we need more NATO/U.S. commitment; terrorists see negotiation as a sign weakness; we can only deal with the Taliban by winning; we mustn’t give in to “minimalist” temptations on foreign-policy.
What is odd is that, although McCain fulminates against the “minimalists,” it is hard to see who exactly these pesky less-war advocates are. You might find some on the blogosphere and elsewhere; but not, it seems, at the Brussels Forum.
Judging from the video clips, it looks as if all the power-shakers at this important conference agreed with a more-not-less strategy, including, emphatically, Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. McCain’s rousing now-is-not-the-moment-for-doubt rhetoric was merely playing to the gallery. In fact, that’s probably why he was invited as keynote speaker — to provide a little militarist backbone to an internationalist gathering of bureaucrats determined to up the blood stakes in and around the Hindu Kush. (Holbrooke was honest enough, in fact, to say that he didn’t know what “minimalist goals” meant.)