Huffpost Politics

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Max Bergmann Headshot

When the Last Resort is the First Resort

Posted: Updated:

One thing becomes clear in John McCain's speech -- if he becomes president, war with another country will be inevitable.

McCain made clear today that the United States will not talk to Iran or North Korea. Instead, he will pursue the Bush administration's policy line toward Iran, which has shunned diplomacy and, as the Washington Post explains, he will "return to Bush's original demand of a complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament of North Korea's nuclear programs."

So John McCain has made clear that he will continue Bush's policy approach. But John McCain does seem to differ with Bush. He seems much more willing to use force.

McCain insists that:

"While the use of force may be necessary, it can only be as a last resort not a first step."

But what is the first step? Since McCain is not willing to negotiate with Iran or North Korea -- what non-military strategies does McCain have to ensure that North Korea and Iran end their nuclear programs? The fact is he has no non-military strategy. His sole approach is to say to them: we demand you to stop doing what you are doing or else we will attack you and destroy you.

But does John McCain really think that saying this will lead to Iran and North Korea magically giving up their nuclear programs? Almost no one else does. And the fact is that such a confrontational and disengaged approach will essentially trap the U.S. into going to war - because when Iran or North Korea or insert country of your choosing, fails to comply with our demands, the only response left - ie the last resort - is military action.

The fact is that negotiations haven't tried and failed in the case of Iraq, as McCain bizarrely alleged; they simply haven't been tried. And this is what is particularly scary about McCain's policy approach toward Iran and North Korea - he is willing to go to war again without negotiating with them. So When McCain says that the military option is the last resort. In fact, for McCain, it's the only resort.