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June 26, 2008

Russia Flip-Floppery
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Matt Yglesias points out that contrary to the McCain campaign's statement that his desire to kick Russia out of the G8 is  "a holdover from an earlier period" really makes little sense.  After all, that "earlier period" would only be three months ago when he made this point in what was billed as a major foreign policy address. 

Matt believes that this is probably inaccurate and that McCain hasn't flipped on this issue.  But let's assume for a second that he has.  This is a man who is running for the Presidency as the experienced expert on national security issues.  Yet here he is dealing with the country that has the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world. A country that is critical to our non-proliferation policy, dealing with Iran, Europe and pretty much every single other major issue facing our foreign policy.  Calling for ousting them from the G8 and then casually reversing yourself through a surrogate is pretty careless and dangerous. 

If McCain hasn't reversed himself than it just shows a willingness to pursue a reckless and dangerous foreign policy.   If he has reversed himself, it still shows a grave error in judgment, cavalier attitude, and lack of knowledge that is quite disturbing.


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It is not just kicking Russia out of the G-8 that is dangerous it is also McCain's desire to build missile defense batteries in Eastern Europe that is also detrimental to having a stable Europe or any arms control agreement. As I have stated before Obama is a much better choice for improving Russian-American relations with his proposal to ban nuclear weapons that would also alleviate Russia's paranoira of the West. It would also be in America's national security interest to work with Russia in eliminating their nuclear arsenal because it would prevent Russian nukes from falling into the wrong hands.

Matt Yglesias points out that contrary to the McCain campaign's statement that his desire to kick Russia out of the G8 is "a holdover from an earlier period" really makes little sense.

This sentence makes little sense.

Neither does all this sticking up for Putin. After all, during the period when Russia had an even bigger nuclear arsenal and was a larger factor in international affairs than it is now, it wasn't part of the G-8. Which, obviously, was called the G-7 then.

The G-8 is not the usual forum for discussing security issues anyway. Russia was admitted to encourage the Yeltsin government, as a token of Russia's progress toward democracy. This progress the Putin government has repudiated, in no uncertain terms. I could see disagreement on whether changing of the G-8's membership was wise or timely; my own views on the question are not set in concrete. But the same kind of language is being applied here to an apparent change in the McCain campaign's position as was used when the original position was announced. If McCain hadn't ever mentioned the subject, this would no doubt be seen here as evidence of his carelessness and near-insanity.

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Everything comes to him who waits

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