Richard Cohen digresses from his quasi-defense of Susan Rice to make this bizarre claim about John McCain:
This sense of an aimless foreign policy, one lacking any moral fervor (or fiber) irritates conservatives much more than liberals. It certainly enrages McCain, who cannot stomach the big guys kicking little guys around [bold mine-DL].
No doubt this is how McCain likes to see himself–as an advocate for “the little guy”–but it’s mostly nonsense. McCain is a member of the world’s most powerful government, and his chief contribution to public debate and policymaking for the last fifteen years has been to agitate in favor of using that government’s enormous military power to attack vastly weaker states and destabilize entire regions in the process. It is safe to say that McCain can not only stomach “the big guys kicking little guys around,” but that he believes this is one of the main functions of U.S. foreign policy. The interventionist would reply that McCain is constantly agitating for new and unnecessary wars because the U.S. has a unique ability to insert itself into other states’ conflicts, and therefore has the obligation to do so. Of course, this overlooks the thousands and tens of thousands of people displaced, injured, and killed in the wars McCain has supported.
After the last decade of unnecessary and disastrous warfare, the idea that U.S. foreign policy needs more “moral fervor” in the form of a greater willingness to plunge into new conflicts, including Syria, is madness. Our foreign policy might benefit from some genuine moral fervor, but moralistic rhetoric in foreign policy debate is always little more than a cover for claiming the right to dictate political outcomes in other countries, to inflict massive damage on other nations with no regard for the costs or consequences, and to rationalize whatever misdeeds and crimes our government happens to commit along the way.
Cohen faults the administration for failing to articulate a foreign policy that marries “American morality” to American power. That assumes wrongly that most Americans believe that their morality and their values dictate entangling the United States in at least the fourth major foreign conflict since 2001. It never seems to occur to Cohen that not involving America in conflicts in which America has nothing at stake is an expression of American morality as well as the best course of action for American interests.