Friday, August 20, 2021

Like a Stopped Clock

He was right once or twice a day, depending on whether it was military or civilian time. Stacy McCain, John McCain Was … Right?

Everybody who knows me knows I was not a fan of the distant relative I called “Crazy Cousin John.” The whole point of naming this blog “The Other McCain” was to ensure nobody confused me with the Arizona senator, whose advocacy of amnesty for illegal aliens I abhorred.

So it was interesting to see my late kinsman “go viral” this week:
A recently resurfaced video showing late Senator John McCain warning colleagues of an “unqualified” and “dangerous” Antony Blinken, who served as deputy national security advisor under President Barack Obama at the time, specifically blasting Blinken’s desire to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The nearly two-minute clip, which comprises excerpts from December 2014, depicts McCain approaching the Senate floor to oppose Blinken’s nomination as deputy secretary of state.
“Madam President, I rise to discuss my opposition to the pending vote concerning Mr. Anthony ‘Tony’ Blinken, who is not only unqualified, but, in fact, in my view, one of the worst selections of a very bad lot that this president has chosen,” McCain began.
“I hope that many of my colleagues will understand that not often do I come to the floor to oppose a nomination of the president of the United States because I believe that elections have consequences,” he continued.
McCain is also seen slamming Blinken, deeming the then-deputy national security advisor a danger to the United States.
“In this case, this individual has actually been dangerous to America and to the young men and women who are fighting and serving it,” he said.
McCain also noted Blinken’s role in “conceptualizing and furthering” a failed foreign policy.
“U.S. foreign policy is in shambles,” he said. “It’s at best a strategic, and at worst, anti-strategic.”
Quoting Blinken himself, McCain then described his concerns that the then-Obama official would push for a complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, leading to a “replay” of war-scarred Iraq:
“I’ll move on to Afghanistan. Mr. Blinken said, ‘We’ve been very clear, we’ve been consistent. The war will be concluded by the end of 2014. We have a timetable and that timetable will not change.’ This is why I’m so worried about him being in the position that he’s in because if they stick to that timetable, I am telling my colleagues that we will see the replay of Iraq all over again. We must leave a stabilizing force behind of a few thousand troops or we will see again what we saw in Iraq.”
Seven years after McCain’s opposition to Blinken’s nomination, the latter serves as Secretary of State, with many claiming the events from this week proved the necessity of McCain’s warning.
OK, so you may be among those conservatives who don’t like the idea of the U.S. playing global policeman, with our troops deployed hither and yon to prop up weak “allies,” but we’ve still got 36,000 troops in Germany, some 30 years after the end of the Cold War, and I don’t think it would have been too much to leave 3,000 or so in Afghanistan.

A friend who was in planning at the Pentagon once explained to me on a fishing trip why he favored continuing troops in Afghanistan (he had been on two tours there, and hated the place). Just look where Afghanistan is, he said, between  China, Pakistan, Iran, and remnants of the Russian Empire, most of our current foes (yeah, I know, Pakistan isn't officially a foe, but for all practical purposes it is.)

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