John McCain was on a conference call with right-wing bloggers yesterday and boasted:
I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare.
What possible reason would a U.S. President have for turning himself and our country into a "nightmare" for Hamas, let alone its "worst nightmare"? Hamas is a single-issue Palestinian group, focused exclusively on its "territorial dispute" with Israel (and, in light of its victory in the U.S.-demanded election, is also now preoccupied with governing the Palestinian Authority). Is there anyone who thinks that Hamas has tried to, will try to, or ever could attack the U.S.? Hamas is an enemy of Israel, not the U.S. Is that a distinction we even recognize any more?
What exactly is the point of feeding Israel billions of dollars every year in military aid if we're going to deem every one of its fights to be our fight, and every one of its enemies to be our Enemy? Is that actually what Americans want to do: insinuate ourselves even more into other endless, intractable religious and ethnic conflicts in the Middle East?
More disturbingly still, this chest-beating threat from McCain is merely the latest in a long line of adolescent, mindlessly belligerent war cries emanating from the Serious foreign policy candidate. In a GOP debate in May of last year, he bellowed that he would "follow [Osama bin Laden] to the gates of hell" only thereafter, according to ABC News, to then "crack a smile which gave the impression to some viewers that perhaps he viewed his own answer as being over the top." But he's since repeated that demonic formulation on numerous occasions, followed by the same creepy, self-satisfied smirk:
. And here was McCain's sober, Serious prescription in 2006 for ending sectarian warfare in Iraq:
One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, "Stop the bullshit."
Add to that his merry singing of the joys of dropping bombs on the Iranian people, and it's clear that McCain's foreign policy approach seems even more childishly bellicose than the current occupant of the Oval Office. There's a reason that Bill Kristol and Joe Lieberman are such ardent supporters.
Is there anyone outside of Lieberman and John Bolton who thinks that what we need are more cartoon-like imperial threats to the world about how we're going to pummel and smash everyone if they don't step into line? Is that mentality going to reduce complex religious and geostrategic threats or severely worsen them? McCain's foreign policy approach actually seems to be a less restrained and less complex rendition of Bush's "Bring-em-on" swagger that has really worked miracles in Iraq. Whatever adjectives might describe McCain's barren, cliched tough guy decrees, Serious -- or "moderate" -- isn't it.
UPDATE: Also, it would be great to know what McCain plans to do, exactly, to turn himself into Hamas' "worst nightmare." Will he invade Gaza? Bomb targets in the not-yet-settled-by-Israel-parts of the West Bank? Have the CIA engage in covert "regime change" efforts to remove Hamas, the democratically elected government, and replace it with rulers whom McCain likes better? Will we be an even more active participant in the endless Israeli-Palestinian dispute? What are McCain's plans specifically for unleashing new "nightmares" on Hamas?
Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy.