McCain advising Ukraine? It’s totally insane!
He was supposed to join other neocon rejects such as Georgia’s fugitive ex-President (and famous tie-eater) Mikhail Saakashvili and the ex-Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt.
McCain has declined the offer, having tweeted quite positively about it earlier, but the very fact that the offer was made in the first place puts into question just how committed Kiev is to the Minsk II peace process.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 14, 2015
Putting it mildly, John McCain is not the sort of person you call if you want to sort differences out with your opponents peacefully. Even by the hawkish standards of Capitol Hill, the right-wing Republican's record of supporting - and trying to escalate - military conflicts is quite extraordinary.
In 1999, he not only supported the illegal NATO ‘humanitarian’ bombardment of Yugoslavia - but also wanted boots on the ground. He was up - big time- for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and for the Iraq war two years later. He joked about bombing Iran - putting the words “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Iran” to the Beach Boys hit ‘Barbara Ann’, but the joke wasn’t particularly funny as he made it clear that he thought “military action” against the Islamic Republic should remain an option.
In 2006, casting himself as a humanitarian, he called for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Darfur. The same year he supported Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon. In 2011 he was a bellicose supporter of the war against Libya. In April 2011 he visited the country and said of the anti-government rebels “they are my heroes”. (Funnily enough, he’s been less vocal on Libya since the country has become a failed state - and his ‘heroes’ of 2011 have been killing each other.)
After Libya, the next country on his ‘To Do’ list was Syria. In May 2012, he became the first Senator to call for the bombing of “Assad’s forces”.
In May 2013, he did his usual routine and visited ‘rebels’ fighting the secular government. At a time when people of good will were trying to bring the conflict to an end, McCain not only called on the US to arm the “brave fighters” who he was photographed with, but for cruise missiles to be used against Syrian government forces.
This January it was reported that McCain was one of several senior US and French officials who were accused of entering Syria illegally.
It’s hard to disentangle McCain’s obsession with toppling Assad from his Zionism. McCain has described himself as “proudly pro-Israel”- and said, when he was standing for President, that if elected he would “work to further isolate the enemies of Israel such as Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah”. He wasn’t elected, but didn’t let his rejection by the American people hinder his warmongering efforts.
In the summer of 2013 McCain criticized Obama’s planned air-strikes against Syria - on the grounds that they didn’t go far enough. McCain didn’t just want to ‘degrade’ the Syrian government’s military capabilities; he wanted a much larger-scale operation to remove President Assad from power.
For once though, McCain and the other hawks didn’t get their way. Shrewd Russian diplomacy and unexpected opposition from the British Parliament, put air strikes off the agenda. Assad survived. McCain had been angry with Russia in 2008, when Moscow had the temerity to respond to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s aggression against the civilian population of South Ossetia, but now he - and his fellow warmongers - were even angrier.
Time to get back at Putin and support ‘regime change’ in Ukraine! Off to the Maidan to hand out the cookies to the ‘pro-democracy’ protestors! “We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently,” the old ham McCain declared. In his enthusiasm for ‘regime change’ in Kiev it didn’t seem to matter at all to the man who was ‘proudly pro-Israel’, that he was sharing a platform with Oleg Tyahnybok - a far-right ultra-nationalist who had written in the past of Ukraine being run by a “Muscovite-Jewish” mafia and who had written open letters, less than ten years earlier, calling for more to be done to halt the “criminal activities” of “organized Jewry”.
Imagine if a left-wing anti-war figure had shared a platform with someone who had publicly expressed views such as these. But McCain did - and his fellow neocons were strangely silent.
Most people mellow in old age, but McCain seems to get even more aggressive with each year that passes. In 2013, the Mother Jones website put at 13 the number of countries that McCain had wanted the US to attack.
Last summer as Israeli forces pounded Gaza, McCain praised the Israeli government’s “admirable” sense of “restraint” Over 2,000 Palestinians - many of them women and children - were killed.
In October, writing in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, McCain was once again calling for military action against Assad.
He’s predictably attacked the US’s recent rapprochement with Iran- calling Secretary of State John Kerry “delusional”.
He’s also been smearing those who don’t want to join in a new Cold War with Russia over Ukraine. In December, he ludicrously claimed that Hungary, a multi-party democracy, was “on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator getting in bed with Vladimir Putin.”
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban responded angrily, by saying that his country’s “national independence” was at stake - and he was right. But at least the bombs haven’t yet dropped on Budapest - and the country hasn’t been ripped apart by ‘rebels’fighting the government, which usually happens in independently-minded countries John McCain and his fellow hawks don’t like.
This week’s visit to Sochi by John Kerry to meet Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, was interpreted, by my RT OpEdge colleague Bryan Macdonald, as a sign that US policy in relation to Ukraine was beginning to change in a positive direction.
Bryan says Ukraine has had its 15 minutes of fame and I hope he’s right. After months of bloody conflict in which thousands of people have been killed-and more than 2 million displaced, there is a peace - of sorts - in the country today. Minsk II is holding. There are definitely reasons to hope that the worst is over. However, there are worrying signs too. The Russophobic neocon faction in Washington and London don’t want the conflict in Ukraine to be resolved and for things to get back to normal, as they want sanctions on Russia to be extended, not lifted.
McCain himself has strongly criticized Minsk II. Usually so keen to support ‘rebels’ he has repeatedly called for the US to give the Ukrainian government the weapons they need to militarily defeat the rebels in the east.
“In almost every debate in the Senate and public TV he always makes the choice of the most violent response to any challenge facing our country. He wants to go to war in this country and that country,” was the damning verdict on McCain by the former US President Jimmy Carter.
If you genuinely wanted peace in Ukraine, then literally the last person in the world you would offer an advisory position to would be the senior Senator for Arizona. Get Carter perhaps, but McCain in Ukraine? Unless you really wanted war, the idea is totally insane.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.