Foreign Policy

When Greatness Began

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The New York Times this weekend ran a pretty good primer on the development of John McCain's foreign policy over the past 13 years. The basic frame won't come as a surprise to readers of my book, but the reporters harvested some fresh quotes regarding the influence of the William Kristol/David Brooks National Greatness project on the late-'90s McCain:

It was during the Balkan wars that Mr. McCain and his advisers read a 1997 article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page by William Kristol and David Brooks of The Weekly Standard—both now Op-Ed page columnists at The New York Times—promoting the idea of "national greatness conservatism, defined by a more activist agenda at home and a more muscular role in the world.

"I wouldn't call it a 'eureka' moment, but there was a sense that this is where we are headed and this is what we are trying to articulate and they have already done a lot of the work," said John Weaver, a former McCain political adviser. "And, quite frankly, from a crass political point of view, we were in the making-friends business. The Weekly Standard represented a part of the primary electorate that we could get."

Soon Mr. McCain and his aides were consulting regularly with the circle of hawkish foreign policy thinkers sometimes referred to as neoconservatives—including Mr. Kristol, Robert Kagan and Randy Scheunemann, a former aide to Mr. Dole who became a McCain campaign adviser—to develop the senator's foreign policy ideas and instincts into the broad themes of a presidential campaign.

One of the many reasons to admire former reason editor Virginia Postrel is that she, along with James Glassman, blew National Greatness out of the water within days of the Kristol/Brooks joint setting sail.

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  1. I like the part about John McCain agitating for the invasion of Iraq on 9/12.

  2. So “national greatness” = we’re so awesome we (the gov) can do anything we want?

  3. We’re soooooo much greater now than we were in 1999. Thanks, guys!

  4. National Greatness was better when Virginia Postrel was blowing it out of the water.

  5. @ktc2
    The term fascism was already taken by the Italian government.

  6. Think about the implications of this i/r/t Georgia and Russia, and McCain’s statement about surrounding Russia (aka, “NATO from the Baltics to the Black Sea.”)

    Is he trying to restart a cold war with Russia because he believes we are a better country when we’re in a cold war than when we are not?

  7. “The Baltics to the Black Sea” does not constitute surrounding Russia. NATO already borders both.

  8. I’m sure the Russians see it exactly that way, Nigel, and I’m sure McCain’s desire to so expand NATO has nothing whatsoever to do with Russia.

  9. To “surround” Russia, wouldnt we need some pacific NATO members? And some arctic ones too. I guess Canada covers the polar escape path?

  10. We need a combined line of the West against a revanchistic Russia, whose leaders apparantly returns to an old policy they are likely to cause in conflicts, unlike to join the democratic peace of the West. We should to make-sure, that the G8 will be again a club of market-oriented democracies. This club should absorb India and Brazil, but should reject Russia.

    Western countries should straighten out, that NATO solidarity is inextricably from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and that the alliance to leave open the door for further negotiations with all democracies, who wants to defend the freedom.

    Not really a whole lot of doubt about his intention there.

  11. We need to get the Chinese to join NATO. That’ll get them Rooskies surrounded.

  12. NANPCCAEATO?

    North Atlantic North Pacific Caucasus Central Asian East Asian Treaty Organization?

    Somebody PLEASE think of the letterhead.

  13. Is he trying to restart a cold war with Russia because he believes we are a better country when we’re in a cold war than when we are not?

    I’m beginning to think that, as a nation, we define ourselves by our enemies.

  14. Somebody PLEASE think of the letterhead.

    Greater Eastern Hemisphere Co-Prosperity Sphere? (GEHCoPS)? (NTTAWTT)

  15. Damn, screwed it up:

    Greater Eastern Hemisphere Yankee Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    GEHY CoPS.

  16. Someone should ask the candidates an int’l affairs question about a “co-prosperity sphere,” just to see if either of them recognizes the term.

  17. National Greatness was better when Virginia Postrel was blowing it out of the water.

    Didn’t she support the Iraq adventure? Has she ever apologized or admitted being wrong to do so?

    first link on the google tubes for “virginia Postrel iraq”

  18. We should to make-sure, that the G8 will be again a club of market-oriented democracies. This club should absorb India and Brazil, but should reject Russia.

    Sounds good to me.

    And, for that matter, is “it will piss off Russia” a bug or a feature when it comes to expanding NATO? Seems to me that doing Russia’s bidding on this once (by keeping Georgia out) didn’t work out so well.

    Perhaps we should tell Russia that, if they are willing to meet the membership requirements, we can make them a NATO member too, someday. Might come in handy, what with their long border with China and all.

  19. I have asked it before, and I will ask it again: when is Reason Magazine going to endorse Barack Obama for president?

  20. the greatness began. every first step of a new policy will regard as a dangerous try.

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