Nov 28, 2009

Le Figaro - International: The indictment of McCain against Obama

Le Figaro - International: The indictment of McCain against Obama: "Interviewed in Halifax (Canada) by Laure Mandeville
23/11/2009 | Updated: 08:53 | Comments 110 | Add to my selection
According to John McCain, the indecision of Obama on Afghanistan 'address to our allies and our enemies the message that we hesitate. Photo credits: George Merillon
INTERVIEW - His former rival is a trial without compromising the balance of Bush, after almost a year of power. On Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East, Russia or China: 'Could do better'. 'Given the emergence of China and India, the European Union and the United States will have even closer'

On the sidelines of the first Forum on international security Halifax, Conference organized by Canada and the German Marshall Fund, Republican Senator John McCain, 73, a former rival Barack Obama for president, gave an interview to Le Figaro and three other European newspapers (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Tagesspiegel and Gazeta Wyborcza).

LE FIGARO. - While the decision of President Obama on Afghanistan is now a matter of days, many analysts compare his situation to that of President Johnson during the Vietnam commitment. This comparison seems to you it relevant to you who fought in Vietnam?

John McCAIN. - The comparisons between the wars are rarely relevant, and they depend on your interpretation of the war. But facts are stubborn. When the North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam and they have received massive support from Russia and China, there were more American soldiers in Vietnam. We had completed the withdrawal of our forces. You never learn it through the description given by the American left from the war in Vietnam. In the early days of the campaign in Vietnam, we have implemented the tactics consisting of Westmoreland to 'find and destroy the enemy', which failed. Then General Abrahams arrived, he started the Vietnamization, then withdrew American troops. Consider Iraq: again, the inefficient tactics of Westmoreland has been implemented by General Casey and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Then, President Bush had the courage to call General Petraeus and the surge (troop increase) has occurred. The Vietnamization had worked, the surge worked. The surge can walk and march in Afghanistan if there is sufficient resources and if it convinces the enemy that our mission will end before giving a date of departure. You win a war by breaking the will of the enemy. And this is not announcing that we will leave it succeeds!

You have criticized the president for the slowness of its decision. Why not leave him time for reflection?

The president has the right to take his time. But there are two problems. The first is that a strategy was announced in March. We told the American people that they would engage in a strategy of insurgency-cons. Then, with the postponement of the decision - which is not really his fault - the population is on the grill. A pending aggravated by constant leaks to the press and pierce debates within the Administration. It has even been published a dispatch from our ambassador in Kabul involving the sending of reinforcements! This address to our allies and our enemies the message that we hesitate. Even our military is shaken. During the ceremony that followed the tragedy of Fort Hood, Sergeants came to me and said: 'Senator McCain, our men are dying. Let us go there or go? 'It is not a static exercise and academic. The situation is real and it is deteriorating, according to our generals. This deterioration indicates that losses are increasing, and that we must either reverse this or leave. Postpone for months the decision is something that I would prefer that the President does not. But soon, the delay will be only a detail of history, since they say the president will announce his decision after Thanksgiving (next Thursday, Ed).

What do you think of the Russian policy of the new Administration?

I find it amusing that sometimes we cling to fragments of sentences from President Medvedev to persuade us that there is a major breakthrough in our discussions. We know very well that the Russian government. And we know he (Vladimir Putin, Ed) is a hard line. We know that there continue to be violations of human rights, as lawyers die in prison and that militants are killed in the street.

Is there a form of naivete in foreign policy, Obama on Russia or Iran?

I'm not sure I can describe it as naive. But I can say it did not succeed this time. Many of us had predicted that there would be no serious offers cons-Iranians on nuclear matters. They were actually given a global forum to present their radical views. Similarly, I never thought that Medvedev's remarks in New York on possible sanctions against Iran had real substance. Many of us continue to denounce the attitude of Mr. Putin's autocratic and concern about its ambitions in its 'near abroad', including Ukraine and Georgia. I do not think that a new cold war will start. But I foresee a more assertive Russia in the region and increasing repression of human rights.

Do you think that Europe underestimates the aggressiveness of Russia? Should it be harder with Moscow?

The issue is not to be hard. But to defend the rights of man as we have always done. We must negotiate with the Russians. We have ongoing negotiations on the START disarmament. But the defense of human rights is fundamental as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Wall. Why is this wall fall? One reason is that Reagan said 'Tear down this wall Mr. Gorbachev.' The Russians are on the way to autocracy. We speak aloud. This does not mean that we declare war. Ronald Reagan did not declare war on Russia.

But there was the war in Georgia and a failure of the West and NATO to prevent it.

With all the respect I owe to President Sarkozy, he has visited, negotiated an agreement for a cease-fire and presented it as a great success. But the Russians still do not respect this agreement. This kind of crisis negotiation requires more than just a photo session. The Russians still occupy territories in violation of the cease-fire and indulge in provocation. They have recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries, in violation of international law.

If it were not for the cease-fire, the Russians could have taken Tbilisi ...

Maybe. But then, why not tell the truth were allowed to have an agreement that has prevented this scenario, but the Russians do not respect the agreement they agreed! President Sarkozy can not just say that the problem is resolved.

Would you prefer a tougher stance on human rights Obama Administration vis-à-vis China?

Yes. This is the first president not to have met the Dalai Lama. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, before his first visit to China, said she did not speak of human rights. The way has been orchestrated visit to China by President Obama is something I would never have accepted. I've never held a press conference where I was not having issues ... I have seen visits to U.S. presidents, I'd never seen one where we simply speak of progress between the two countries, without bringing any concrete agreement.

You criticize many foreign policy of Obama. What are the positives?

President Obama is very charismatic personality. He is very intelligent and exciting. It has launched a message to the world that we wanted to cooperate and was received very warmly everywhere. I appreciate his talent. But I also know that if you tell the Israelis it must freeze settlementsThat they refuse, that Arab countries say they will not come to the negotiations, and then you tell the Israelis that they do not need to freeze the settlements, there is a problem ... I never told the Israelis that they must freeze settlement unless it is sure to keep that line. Understand me. I want to support the President of the United States. If it takes the right decision on Afghanistan, I will be there to support him. But I try to respectfully say that I think is the right path for the country.

The Republican Party faces a wrenching dilemma: to consolidate his conservative base at the risk of remaining minority, or enlarge to the center?

We've lost two elections in a row. Of heavy defeats. After such failures, there is always a period of debate. It's healthy. What attracts the attention of many Republicans is the result Election Virginia and New Jersey. Republican candidates who had conservative credentials have focused on specific problems of their states: jobs! Neither made any comments on abortion. They understood the need to talk jobs, loans to SMEs, aid. They won.

It has long been a tradition of bipartisan work in Congress of the United States. But, given the ferocity of the attacks that fuse, this time seems long gone.

I sincerely regret. But what happens in America is the emergence of an independent movement that is satisfied by neither side. This frustration was expressed during the recent elections. The independent voters of New Jersey who voted Obama did not want the Democratic candidate a year later. Affirmed today a movement of anger, which has not decided where he wants to go. This reservoir of independent votes that we do not know what will happen. In Arizona, my state, the unemployment rate is 17%! One in five children are hungry today in Arizona. The political climate is completely changed.

President Obama he overestimated the mandate given by people to reform the country, health, climate, energy?

Since the president was elected, the number one issue is not only the economy but spending. The budget deficit worries. That is why people are worried when he proposes reform of health which will cost over a trillion dollars. Since his arrival, there is excessive involvement of the state. Nobody would have imagined that the federal government becomes owner of General Motors and Chrysler. It also has a level of anger that I had never seen so far, between Main Street (the real country) and Wall Street. Wall Street makes obscene profits, while Main Street is closing its small business thousands. The anger is real.

If the president spends his health reform as planned, he may bring up the climate legislation in 2010, given the anger?

The chairman will do the only thing he can do. When you have unemployment that reached 10% and economists expect at least a year with the same pattern, you should worry about first. America is very concerned about climate change, but she is deeply troubled by unemployment.

A rising China, an America in decline ... You agree?

China moves towards superpower status. The question is whether this assumption will be peaceful and mutually beneficial or if it will lead to a confrontation. I see two faces of China. A China that involved positively in the international arena. And another China, which still has a particular attitude vis-à-vis Taiwan and continues to repress human rights. Which will emerge, it is not clear. But the Chinese are practical people. In my opinion, they will act peacefully because that is their economic interest. The emergence of conflict in Asia would not be a good thing for China, which has to feed a population of 1.3 billion people.

And the decline of America?

I've heard that many times, such as Carter ... But I think our country has great resilience. We will emerge stronger from this crisis. But I also know that given the emergence of China and India, the European Union and the United States will have to be nearer.


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