McCain's Albright Moment


Remember back in the everyone-is-gay old '90s, when then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madaleine Albright, frustrated by Washington's then-inaction in stopping Serbian slaughter in Bosnia, delivered this infamous zinger to then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell?

What's the use of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?

Well, last week Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed some positively Albrightian frustration about Washington's current disinterest in using the military to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya:

"Of course we have to have a no-fly zone," McCain said at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington on Tuesday. "We are spending over $500 billion dollars, not counting Iraq and Afghanistan, on our nation's defense. Don't tell me we can't do a no-fly zone over Tripoli."

"I love the military, I love it, it's been my life, but they always seem to find reasons why you can't do something rather than why you can," he added.

Besides illustrating the rogue-state rollbacker's perpetually itchy trigger finger (since 1995, anyway; he was actually opposed to intervening in Yugoslavia back in 1993), the above juxtaposition is also a quick and dirty demonstration of interventionism's slippery slope. America was still gun-shy about messing about unilaterally into other country's affairs in 1993, but after the precedents and comparative successes of Bosnia '95 and Kosovo '99 (the latter of which arguably had less multilateral legitimacy than the Iraq War), followed by the pre-emptive warmaking of George W. Bush, the 50-yard line on military adventurism has shifted. President Obama's reticence in the Middle East is nudging it backward, but any number of potential conflagrations there, in addition to the ongoing surge in Central Asia, could halt or even reverse that process.