In the Huffington Post, Wesley Clark challenges the Conventional Wisdom’s axiom that “John McCain has foreign policy/national security experience”.

While I respect John McCain’s service, I know exactly what he stands for — Bush’s third term. And in national security terms, John McCain is largely untested and untried. He’s never been responsible for policy formulation. John McCain is calculating that he will use the national security debate to his advantage. He’s wrong. Like Bush, McCain has always been for the use of force, force, and more force. In my experience, the only time to use force is as a last resort. When John McCain talks about throwing Russia out of the G8 and makes irresponsible comments about bombing Iran, he reveals his own disrespect for the office of the presidency.

Much of McCain’s experience in international relations has to do with international travel and mingling with the world’s VIPs. In fact, according to a long profile in The New York Times, the jet-setting opportunities seemed to have been one of the reasons for his decision to leave the Navy and choose a career as a law-maker in Congress. Join Congress and see the world:

McCain has often said that he decided to run for office because he felt that his war injuries would make attaining the same rank as his father and grandfather “impossible.” But Lehman, now an adviser to the McCain campaign, and two other top navy officers familiar with McCain’s file insist that was not the case.
Instead, many who knew him say, McCain seemed bored by navy life. “Sitting down with Anwar Sadat or Deng Xiaoping and being treated as an equal – that is pretty heady stuff,” said Rhett Dawson, a former aide to Tower who is now president of an electronics trade group. “It had opened his eyes to a much broader world.”
McCain was captivated, recalled Jeffrey Record, then an aide to former Senator Sam Nunn, the hawkish Georgia Democrat. “He thrives on competition, and he thrives on political combat,” Record said. “He saw the glamour of it. I think he really got smitten with the celebrity of power.”

Indeed, cruising the Geisha bars in Tokyo with Gary Hart and Bill Cohen seemed to have been a defining moment in his career search:

A trip to Asia in late 1978 cemented their bond. McCain and the two senators stole away from official briefings to stroll in Tokyo’s Ginza district of nightclubs and restaurants, visit the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok and take a memorable midnight tour of what Hart remembered as that city’s “light and dark sides.” In a memoir, Cohen recalled drinking beer with McCain at the Hyatt Regency bar overlooking Seoul, watching beautiful Korean women seduce a tipsy traveler.

Interestingly enough, I’ve been surprised by the numerous references to McCain’s foreign travels in the press recently. The guy travels quite a lot (paid for by the tax-payers and business cronies. For example, this is from Wednesday’s article in the Wall Street Journal about financier Raffaello Follieri:

In 2006, Mr Follieri entertained Sen. John McCain on a yacht leased by Mr Follieri and moored off the coast of Montenegro. A spokeswoman for the presumptive presidential nominee has said nothing came of the social encounter, adding that the two met at a dinner party earlier on shore.”

Mmm…La Dolce Vitae… I’m jealous (And BTW, what was the “nothing” that didn’t come of the “social encounter”?)