The First Test
McCain argues that the recent incursion of Russia into Georgia is the first test of his and Obama's foreign policy experience and that their respective responses indicate how they would govern.
If so, McCain's response alarms me. There was McCain's casting his stance as a defense of a Christian nation. A troubling rationale. There was no effort to acknowledge some issues in the conflict. And there was McCain's beligerent language against Russia.
McCain argued for punishing Russia by kicking them out of the G8 nations and developing a more confrontational stance against them. Obama rejected that stance arguing that the US has to have some cooperative relationship with Russia, for our own security needs.
I agree that Russia's invasion cannot be justified and that we have serious differences. But to develop a new cold war with Russia is in no one's interests. And there's an unfortunate history between our two nations since the end of the cold war.
It's consisted of the US ignoring or sidelining Russia on issues that could have brought the two nations together. Since the Clinton and Bush years, we've worked to expand NATO right along Russia's borders without including Russia within a common security arrangement.
Clinton sidelined Russia's potential role to help resolve the Kosovo conflict. And Bush abrogated the ABM treaty. The result has been a Russia who has seen the US as a nation that wishes to contain them, not a potential partner. Is it any wonder that we have no standing?
Bush's pleading with Europe to intervene suggest the power of friends but it also highlights the impotence we face in dealing with Russia. McCain's hostile rhetoric only fuels the problem. Obama measured response show how he passed and McCain failed our first test.