An article in today’s New York Times should remind us all of why the neocons preferred John McCain over Bush in 2000: the Arizona senator is even more of a hawk than Bush has ever been. Personnel is policy, and McCain’s choice of foreign-policy advisers shows us exactly where his foreign policy will lead. The Times reports:
concerns have emerged in the weeks since Mr. McCain became his party’s presumptive nominee and began more formally assembling a list of foreign policy advisers. Among those on the list are several prominent neoconservatives, including Robert Kagan, an author who helped write much of the foreign policy speech that Mr. McCain delivered in Los Angeles on March 26, in which he described himself as “a realistic idealist.” Others include the security analyst Max Boot and a former United Nations ambassador, John R. Bolton.
Boot, Kagan, and Bolton are well-known neocons, but the most influential one in McCain’s foreign-policy team is a more obscure figure — Randy Scheunemann, who was founder and president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and a key player in the committee’s parent organization, the Project for the New American Century.
McCain has pragmatists advising him too, and the Times story is framed a struggle between the two camps for mind of the GOP’s nominee. Don’t believe it. (Especially since most the pragmatists the Times cites are as interventionist as Boot and Kagan, anyway.) McCain was the neocons’ pick in 2000, and he’s even closer to them today. A McCain presidency will be more than just George W. Bush’s third term. It will also be Bill Kristol’s first.