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Thank Goodness McCain Isn’t President

John McCain never tires of supporting useless and dangerous hard-line policies:

He wants to see Obama revive the Bush era missile defense plan, which would have placed U.S. missiles in the Czech Republic. He also believes that speeding up Georgia accession to NATO would send a strong message to Putin.

Whatever else one wants to say about the current situation in Ukraine, these policy recommendations made no sense in the previous decade and they still make no sense today. As a matter of fact, no interceptors were supposed to be placed on Czech territory, but most Czechs didn’t want the related radar installation in their country. There was popular opposition to Bush’s scheme in both Poland and the Czech Republic, and scrapping it was the right thing to do. There’s no reason at all to try to revive it five years later.

Bringing Georgia into NATO remains the obsession of a dwindling band of hard-liners, but it makes even less sense now than it did six years ago. At least in 2008, there was still the remote chance that Georgia would resolve its outstanding territorial disputes, but now that seems even more unlikely, and unless it can do that there is no chance that NATO would extend a security guarantee to it. NATO has no reason to expand into the Caucasus, it gains nothing from doing so, and it creates an unnecessary point of contention between Russia and the alliance that could lead to new conflict. Nothing could be worse for the alliance than to make security guarantees it can’t or won’t honor, and bringing Georgia into NATO does exactly that. These policy ideas are every bit as outdated and bankrupt as they were when McCain defended them as a presidential candidate, and it would be folly to pursue them once again. We should be very glad that Ukraine has not been on track to become a member of NATO for several years, or else the current crisis would be much more dangerous for international peace and stability than it is.

Overall, McCain’s lack of awareness is truly impressive. There has been no one more active in pushing for U.S. military interventions around the world or more contemptuous of the protections of state sovereignty than he, and yet he reacts to these events as if they vindicate his reckless and aggressive foreign policy views. Russia’s incursion in Crimea is unfortunate and wrong, and Moscow would be wise to withdraw whatever forces it has inserted onto Ukrainian territory, but almost everyone most scandalized by this in the West has favored every illegal invasion or bombing campaign of the last 20 years. The complete inability to see that their own policies have prepared the way for other states to use military force in this way is pitiful and deplorable. That is just one more reason why we should heed nothing that they have to say about this or other foreign policy issues.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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