McCain’s “gates of hell” talk is leadership malpractice, and he should stop using it immediately. Calling the threat of terrorism “transcendent” is equal parts incoherent and false. Terrorism stands no chance of defeating the United States or the West unless we ourselves collapse the society. Speaking this way about terrorism thrills our terrorist enemies and draws recruits and support to them. Silence would be much better, presidential campaign or no. [...]Leadership malpractice. The wrong thing for a leader to do. It looks like McCain won't be picking up the libertarian vote.
Exalting terrorism - as John McCain does with his “gates of hell” talk - is precisely the wrong thing for a national leader to do. The country will be made more secure by deflating the world image of Osama bin Laden and making his movement less attractive. Our leaders must withdraw rhetorical power from terrorists by controlling their tongues.
Harper makes a good point though when he says our leaders must control their tongues, and in that area McCain fails miserably according to Max Bergmann at Democracy Arsenal.
Thus on almost every crisis or incident over the last decade, McCain has sounded the alarm, ratcheted up the rhetoric and often called for military action - with almost no regards to the practical implications of such an approach. [...]Reckless. That's John McCain's approach to foreign policy, one that puts even more of our troops in danger.
The big concern with a McCain presidency – a concern which I am surprised has not been vocalized more fully – is that the U.S. will lurch from crisis to crisis, confrontation to confrontation, whether it be with Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. The danger is that McCain’s pundit-like rhetoric will entrap the U.S. in descending spiral of foreign policy brinksmanship. Just think about the very likely scenario of McCain giving Iran/Russia a rhetorical ultimatum and Iran/Russia ignoring it. Now we are stuck - either we lose face by not following through on our threats or we follow through and go to war. We can’t afford such a reckless approach after the last eight years. For the next eight we need a president not a pundit.
(Cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan.)