In the midst of the obsession of the mainstream media to watch every McCain grimace, and count the number of times that Obama agreed with his opponent, or catch the few McCain gaffes on names and facts, thus far I see that no one has said much about his idea to create a league of democracies that will apparently move across the globe like the Fantastic 4 thwarting evil-doers like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (pronounced AK-Ma-DEEN-ah-JAD, senator McCain).
McCain's idea of international diplomacy seems to sadly be more of "us against them." Okay, so he's not always sure who "us" is, as Obama pointed out when he mentioned McCain's Spain gaffe, or his friend Joe Lieberman had to remind him about which countries in the Middle East are the bad guys.
Obviously McCain staffers are not good students of history, and even though the Senator is 72, he is a little too young himself to have much first-hand remembrance of the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.
The League of Nations was the brainstorm of Woodrow Wilson, the Dem who sat in the White House and re-engineered the political and social map of Europe post WW-I that brought us such greatest hits as combining all of the postage stamp ethnic countries that hated each other into Yugoslavia. and a new device for peace: A place where all of the nations of the world could sit down and talk rather than make war. The League had one fatal flaw, though. Only people who agreed with us were able to join up. It failed because of that, and World War II, the sequel that no one wanted to see, rolled out as a result.
This was exactly what Senator McCain actually advocated at the debate last night, missed by every mainstream journalist in the biz. Shocking.
Obama pointed out, rightly, that we need to talk to Russia and China if we want to be able to reign in Iran. We must find common interests to do so. What he didn't say, what he should have said, is that McCain's call to bypass the United Nations and establish a club of democracies where the two largest nuclear superpowers in the world cannot be represented is some of the most naive and dangerous political thinking to come across the transom in quite some time. More dangerous than even W.'s war in Iraq.
If we allow a man who thinks that dividing the world up into "us" and "them," and using whether the country pulls levers to elect its leaders as a basis for communication, then our nation, and indeed democracy as an ideology are doomed to failure.
Isolating countries with whom we disagree has never worked. Not during the Cold War. Not now. They may have had to count the towels and sheets in the West Wing whenever Richard Nixon left the White House, but his talks with China and Russia set the groundwork up for a lot more freedom in those countries. Even though they are not democratic, they have quietly both embraced a capitalism that continues to put them on the track of improved education and improved living standards that may make democracy sustainable in those countries one day.
I am not sure which I am more concerned about: A McCain campaign run for a leader with supposed foreign policy "expertise" that is so out of touch, or a media so gleefully watching the side-show that they missed the three ton political elephant that McCain dropped into the big top last night.