John McCain speaks out against Trump’s nationalism and lack of commitment to international accords in speech to European security council.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona has been pulling his punches when it comes to responding to Donald Trump, preferring to take the high road and perhaps preferring to present a united party front. That moment seems to have passed, however, when McCain went after Trump’s policies and tone in a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.
The Washington Post reports that the Republican senator “systematically dismantled Donald Trump’s entire worldview,” not naming Trump by name, but speaking outright about the concerns that the Western world is unwilling to stand by universal principles through international alliances.
In his speech, John McCain told the conference that the West was facing threats to its survival:
“The next panel asks us to consider whether the West will survive. In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism. Not this year. If ever there were a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.”
McCain didn’t name Trump, but referred to many of his policies and campaign rhetoric when naming the dangers facing our relationships across Europe and North America. McCain framed his concerns by reflecting on how the conference’s predecessors would view current world events:
“I fear that much about it would be all-too-familiar to them, and they would be alarmed by it.
“They would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood, and race, and sectarianism.
“They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims.
“They would be alarmed by the growing inability, and even unwillingness, to separate truth from lies.”
McCain also addressed Trump’s “America First” policy: the rejection of immigrants and refugees, the building of walls on borders, and the threats to withdraw support from NATO and the United Nations.
“I know there is profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership. I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe that is the message you will hear from all of the American leaders who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend.”
McCain then lists a number of U.S. government officials who would agree with him that the U.S. still stands by its obligations to work for international peace and accord, including the secretary of defense, the secretary of homeland security, and the new vice president. But his glaring omission of Donald Trump’s name speaks volumes.
Trump and the nationalists who revere him have repeatedly questioned America’s place in the world. Sen. McCain has been paying attention.
Trump is still threatening to reduce the U.S.’s commitment to NATO; and only two days ago, his new defense secretary repeated Trump’s demand that other members of the alliance increase their financial commitment to the organization. According to BBC News, Sec. Mattis spoke out at headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday:
“America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.”
In January, only five days after taking office, The New York Times reported that Trump was preparing orders to reduce the country’s involvement with the United Nations. Along with reducing our commitment to the UN, the order also calls for “ a review of all current and pending treaties with more than one other nation.”
Sen. McCain also spoke to reporters during the conference, telling Reuters that the resignation of Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, amid days of scandal over the general’s likely illegal communications with a Russian ambassador, shows that “this administration is in disarray and they’ve got a lot of work to do.” McCain then spoke openly and quite cynically to reporters, saying:
“The president I think makes statements, on other occasions contradicts himself. So we’ve learned to watch what the president does as opposed to what he says.”
During his speech to the Security Council, John McCain criticized Trump harshly for suggesting that the U.S. didn’t hold the moral high ground against Putin’s Russia–a reign that has seen the mysterious deaths of a number of journalists and political leaders who have opposed him.
When asked by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly why he would want a good relationship with a killer like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump’s response was: “We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
Sen. McCain reinforced the moral stand taken by America and its allies:
“We must take our own side in this fight. We must be vigilant. We must persevere. And through it all, we must never, never cease to believe in the moral superiority of our own values — that we stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair.”
John McCain has tolerated insult after insult from Trump without sinking to the former reality TV show host’s level of childishness. Trump has insulted the Republican senator’s war record and mocked his loss to President Barack Obama, and McCain has taken it with as much grace as any war hero possibly could.
However, it seems that threatening our commitment to international cooperation and insulting our national honor could very well be John McCain’s last straw.
Below is a short exerpt from NBC News followed by the full speech.