John McCain looks and sounds like the personification of American exceptionalism.
That mindset is particularly conspicuous every time he assails President Obama for not doing enough about Syria, Libya, Ukraine or wherever else the Arizona senator thinks America needs to flex its muscles and exact the United States’ version of justice.
And, to be fair, when McCain makes the rounds on the cable news circuit or takes to the op-ed pages of America’s most influential newspapers to make his case for a more interventionist U.S. foreign policy, his words drip with sincerity. Whether one agrees with him or not, McCain’s authenticity can’t be questioned; he believes with every fiber of his being in the supposedly altruistic nature of the United States.
I don’t single out McCain because I have any deep enmity for the former Republican presidential candidate — he seems to be, despite a few atypical decisions (Sarah Palin comes to mind), a very principled man. However, McCain represents a weakened, yet still influential bloc of politicians and media figures who vigorously promote a more activist United States foreign policy despite the disasters this mindset has engendered in the past. Surprisingly, though, the disastrous war in Iraq undermined this group’s influence, the opinions of the “we must do something gang” are still taken seriously by the serious people in the mainstream media.
So, when Russia illegally invaded Crimea for cynical reasons, the foreign policy hawks were quick to excoriate Obama for not doing enough.
McCain complained that “nobody believes in America’s strength anymore” and his ally U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.” In addition, the hawkish Washington Post, in a critical editorial, warned that “Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.”
The do-somethings don’t seem to understand that the U.S. cannot fix or become deeply embroiled in every conflict in the world. Nor do they ever acknowledge the double standards practiced by our country and some of our allies.
Meanwhile, some on the left have mirrored the do-somethings rigid views by overstating the allegedly fascist character of the Ukrainian revolution. Despite the Kremlin propaganda machine’s claims that Ukraine has been taken over by a fascist or Nazi regime, the truth is that neo-fascist groups represented only a small portion of the people involved in the Maidan revolution against Ukraine’s corrupt and repressive former president Viktor Yanukovych.
The revolution also included Jews, Muslims, Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet Red Army that invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Russians, orthodox Christians, Catholics, college students, gay activists, working class people and feminists.
Where else in the world have so many different groups banded together to overthrow a ridiculously corrupt regime? In a world bloodied by racial, tribal and religious-based conflicts, this diverse coalition should be seen as a model for unity and tolerance.
When segments of the left dismiss the revolution as fascist, they ignore the millions of Ukrainians who risked their lives to go up against a government that was all too willing to use excessive and sometimes lethal force to quell dissent.
While the do-somethings overstate the perpetual need for U.S. global dominance (while ignoring our double standards), many on the left have become so obsessed with U.S. imperialism that they’ve gotten soft on the imperialism practiced by Russia and its nefarious oligarchs.
Andy Heintz is a political commentator. He previously was a Herald staff writer, now a sports reporter at the Ottumwa Courier, Ottumwa, Iowa. Read his blog at http://www.orble.com/just-one-mans-vision/ and follow @heintz23 on Twitter.