Sunday, May 25, 2008

McCain's Foreign Policy Advisers

There's been a lot of debate on the nature of John McCain's foreign policy, with some observers calling the Arizona Senator "The Militarist" in an effort to impugn McCain's robust vision for America in a world of danger.

Others, like those at the Los Angeles Times, have struggled to find neat ideological labels: "
McCain's Mixed Signals on Foreign Policy."

I see McCain as essentially neoconservative in his basic outlook, but perhaps more from a sense of personal experience and respect for what might be called an objective natural right of goodnesss in the world, something worth defending, even by force of arms when necessary, than from any overarching ideological framework.

In any case,
the Council on Foreign Relations has posted an essay laying out the emerging foreign policy team of the McCain campaign, which gives us some clues to the candidate's likely direction in foreign affairs:

The McCain campaign’s foreign policy coordinator is Randy Scheunemann, a former top legislative aide for Republicans on Capitol Hill, including two former leaders of the Senate, Trent Lott and Bob Dole. Former Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin coordinates economic policy. On national security issues, McCain receives advice from several generations of Republican strategists and former top foreign policy officials such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Armitage, often grouped in the realist camp of foreign policy, as well as William Kristol and Robert Kagan, leading neoconservative voices. The campaign lists Kagan as a leading foreign policy adviser, as noted below, along with State Department veteran Richard Williamson, former top defense and national security official Peter W. Rodman, and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, who advises on national security and energy issues.

Media following the campaign have reported on jockeying for influence between the groups. The New York Times reported in April 2008 about
concerns expressed by pragmatists advising McCain that more conservative Republicans and neoconservatives are gaining increasing influence. But other campaign advisers downplay any schism.

Scheunemann, Kagan, and Kristol are project directors of the
Project for the New American Century, an organization formed when Democrats controlled the White House in 1997 around what many analysts say are neoconservative ideals. The project says on its website it aims to promote U.S. leadership in the world and “rally support for a vigorous and principled policy of American international involvement and to stimulate useful public debate on foreign and defense policy and America's role in the world.” The organization’s statement of principles says the United States needs to “increase defense spending significantly,” “strengthen ties to democratic allies,” “promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad,” and “accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.”

Some observers point to McCain’s embrace of policy issues identified with neoconservatives dating back to his presidential campaign of 2000, when he called for a “rogue state rollback” policy predicated on aiding opposition groups that could then drive from power some regimes seen as threats to the United States. His plan for a “League of Democracies,” envisioned as a group of like-minded nations that would act in lieu of the United Nations against some threats to international security, is also seen as consistent with the neoconservative aims. But Kagan, writing in World Affairs,
challenges the notion expressed in a number of media that in backing such policies neoconservatives have deviated abruptly from U.S. foreign policy traditions.
I love it!

PNAC just drives
the lefties nuts!!

But read the rest of
the article, which includes discussions (with links) of other advisors, as well as a selected bibliography of McCain's writings and policy proposals.