Saturday, December 06, 2008

Whatshisname again?

It's probably not worth paying attention to John McCain. But he and his fellow musketeers, Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman, are doing a foreign policy tour of South Asia at the moment. And he's saying things, or at least being interpreted as saying things, that would seem to interfere with the conduct of US foreign policy under its current or future directors.

For instance, here's a Pakistani newspaper quoting him as saying that the US would not support Indian military action against Pakistan. Really? If the Indians find a base from which the Mumbai attack was planned and the Pakistani government can't or won't move in, John McCain says the US won't support military action by India against it? This is a recurrence of one of the strangest policies that McCain boxed himself into against Obama, that he would somehow be explicitly ruling out anti-terrorist strikes in Pakistan while doing them in secret. Or something.

Now here's McCain today meeting quasi-leader of the opposition Nawaz Sharif. Did he discuss with Sharif his claim that Pakistan was a failed state under Sharif's pre-coup premiership? Incidentally, if you thought Pakistani news coverage would still be dominated by the Mumbai attacks and its aftermath (or the bizarre prank phone call that nearly escalated into a war), you'd be wrong. Sharif's post-McCain news conference got into a convoluted scandal about a system in which the children of judges get bonus points on exams. So this is a country that could have a real problem focusing on any demands from India.

Finally, the McCain team seems to be closing their trip with a visit to one of America's vital allies in the War on Terror. Malta. Why Malta? Hopefully the island has some intrepid journalists who can figure out what the junketing Senators are up to.

UPDATE: McCain is now making statements in Pakistan about what President Obama's foreign policy will be! Note the difference in the way the remarks are being reported. The US media emphasize what he said about Pakistan. The Pakistani media emphasize what he said about US policy towards Pakistan. Finally note that as Maverick tours the world, he sends Cindy to frigid Philadelphia for the Army-Navy game.

FINAL UPDATE: McCain and Joe Lieberman stopped in Malta and then Ireland, where McCain told the Defence Minister that he would be taking up the issue of the undocumented Irish with Barack Obama. Lieberman has made much of the fact that McCain will be "reporting" to Obama following the trip.

ONE MORE THING [22 AUGUST 2009] -- Was McCain's Malta stopover a cover for a visit to Libya? We ask because he was in Libya during a key week in the al-Megrahi process. And McCain has a history of murky connections to Libya.

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