John McCain: “Hillary Clinton is an international star” *updated*
It’s not often (ie. never) that I agree with John McCain, particularly now that he’s been pandering to the far, far, far right of the political spectrum (ie. Tea Party and evangelicals).
From the Christian Science Monitor:
Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, calls Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton an “international star” but sharply criticizes the Obama administration’s policy on Libya.
At a [Christian Science] Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday, Senator McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate for president, was asked to rate President Obama’s national security team. “I think the international star is Secretary Clinton,” McCain said. “She has done a really tremendous job.”
Good for him.
Here’s a video of his criticism of Obama’s foreign policy. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have the quote about Secretary Clinton, which is strange because it was on the Christian Science Monitor website accompanying the story about his remarks about Clinton:
I don’t agree with how he frames our overall foreign policy, particularly with respect to Iran. In fact, he totally misrepresents the administration’s take on Iran. Is McCain actually expressing the belief that we use military force in every single place where there are humanitarian abuses? Because if that’s the case, here are just a few countries that Senator McCain might want to invade or bomb:
1. Saudi Arabia
2. Ivory Coast
3. Democratic Republic of Congo
7. Institute a no-fly zone over Gaza
I could go on but you get the picture. Would McCain be willing to put his money where his mouth is and advocate for a draft? While the GOP is trying to slash every social program in the budget they don’t like (while giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires) and refusing to not only cut one penny from the defense budget, but actually demanding it be increased, I find all this war talk to be disingenuous.
In other news, Defense Secretary Gates is doing some hand-holding with the House of Saud because being the oppressive, authoritarian regime that they are (see list above), they see U.S. support for democracy in the region as a threat. This demonstrates yet another reason to decrease our dependence on oil from the Middle East. We are far too dependent on these tin-pot dictatorships. Of course, the same could be said of our economic dependence on China. *sigh* Yet none of these problems are being addressed by our Congress, who as we speak are striking yet another blow to the middle class via their slash and burn budget proposals.
One thing the above article mentions is that the United States is very willing to blame much of the unrest in Saudi Arabia (and Bahrain) on Iran. This seems a bit too politically convenient. It may very well be that Iran is taking advantage of some of the unrest in the region but lets not forget that every single Arab autocracy has blame “outside influences” and “foreign interference” as the cause of the upheaval. Because you know, it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with their citizens being sick and tired of having no jobs, no voice in the government, paying outrageous prices for food and housing and having few legal rights, all the while the leaders live in gold-plated palaces, place their friends and family members in cushy, high-paying jobs all the while raiding the public coffers. No, it couldn’t be that. It seems that the U.S. is using Iran as an excuse to exempt Bahrain and Saudi Arabia from our belief that governments shouldn’t kill their own people in an effort to suppress pro-democracy movements.
~One more news item of note: While Israeli President Shimon Peres was visiting with President Obama and Secretary Clinton, guess what announcement the Israeli government made? They will expand the settlements and build upwards of 1,000 [Jewish-only] homes beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem. The timing of that announcement is interesting, isn’t it? Whenever an Israeli President of Prime Minister is meeting with Obama, these announcements have a funny way of coming out- it’s sort of like rubbing our face in the fact that we are apparently helpless to stop this gross violation of international law and outright provocation of the Palestinians. Well, actually, we are not powerless to stop the settlements, we just refuse to use all the diplomatic and economic tools in our toolbox to get them to stop.
UPDATE:If you are interested in the issue of the federal budget and international affairs, development funding, please consider dropping a line to your member of Congress and tell them that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget is a disaster for many reasons but increasing defense spending while slashing the State Dept. budget is idiotic and short-sighted. From Josh Rogin over at The Cable:
The long-term budget announced on Tuesday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would cut the budget for international affairs and foreign assistance by 29 percent in 2012 and 44 percent by 2016 — while increasing the defense budget by 14 percent over the same timeframe.
Ryan’s proposal would increase the budget for national defense (the 050 account) $22 billion to a total of $583 billion in fiscal 2012 and would provide defense increases each year, leading to a $642 billion defense budget in 2016.
The House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee is responsible for filling in those details over the next couple of weeks as they write their fiscal 2012 appropriations proposal, the first draft of next year’s spending legislation. That document will be the basis of what are sure to be protracted and grueling fights over the State Department and USAID budgets throughout the summer and fall.
The House also passed a spending bill that would cut the State Department’s fiscal 2011 budget by 16 percent compared to the president’s request, a step that USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said would kill 70,000 children. The negotiations over that bill are going on right now, in an attempt to head off an April 8 government shutdown.
Talk about screwed up priorities. If the GOP were to get its way on everything, they’d succeed in running this nation right into the ground. It says a lot about the United States that our leaders (and some voters) are willing to write blank checks for defense spending while slashing funding for environmental, health, education and diplomacy, development and foreign aid (except Israel of course, which will see it’s financial aid increase). Think of all the stories you’ve heard about private contractor abuse, spending on weapons systems that a) don’t work or b) aren’t even needed. Nobody is saying the defense budget should be reduced to a level that puts us at risk but to not only not trim anything from defense spending, but to increase it, is truly stupefying (and short-sighted). Bernie Sanders seems to be one of the few members of Congress who is diligently fighting this. What’s incredible is that in many cases after the government finds massive fraud, those same companies often get REHIRED for more government contracting work. It’s called failing upwards but the U.S. taxpayer pays the bill.
Read this unbelievable article about how defense contractors seem to get preferential treatment, even after they have been found to be bilking U.S. taxpayers for hundreds of billions of dollars.
Of course, the Democrats are so afraid of being labeled “weak” on national security that they aren’t putting up enough of a fight over this defense spending issue.