At least Bush claimed that he wanted a “humble” foreign policy back in 2000. Apparently John McCain was gung-ho about adventures like the Iraq War and willing to say so publicly. Here’s McCain in a February 2000 Republican debate:
“I’d institute a policy that I call ‘rogue state rollback,'” said McCain. “I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically- elected governments.”
“As long as Saddam Hussein is in power,” he added, “I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security.”
He would “arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow” governments that we don’t like? That’s a recipe for chaos, and you shouldn’t need the Iraq War to tell you so. In my view, the fact that McCain was ever this much of an out-and-out hawk is more scandalous than the fact that he slept with a lobbyist or that he was involved in the Keating Five. Holding positions this extreme and this dangerous ought to be considered worse than ethical or moral transgressions. After all, sleeping with a lobbyist doesn’t get people killed.
McCain is now denying that this was his position. Specifically, his recent statement on “rogue state rollback” was: “I wasn’t saying that we should go around and declare war.” If you look at his quote, though, it sounds pretty much like he was suggesting we go around and declare war. Or at least we train and equip people who declare war for us.