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Is McCain really a perma-hawk?

Is McCain really a perma-hawk?

Responding to Jacob Weisberg’s mournful re-evaluation of Sen. John McCain, Matthew Yglesias writes

I feel like some of the media’s John McCain fanboys should give more consideration to the idea that less here has changed than they think, and they themselves just shouldn’t have been so eager to embrace McCain in the first place. McCain is still a fanatical warmonger who believes in maximal application of military force in all circumstances, a kind of mirror-image Quaker. That his cartoonish worldview has ever been taken seriously tells you a lot about how deep in the grips of militarism Washington, DC is.

I’m not sure what timeframe Yglesias is considering but it’s not true that McCain never met a war he didn’t like. McCain’s early career in congress was actually more defined by opposition to the use of military force.  In 1983, as a freshman congressman, McCain broke with President Reagan and most congressional Republicans to oppose the redeployment of U.S. troops in Lebanon. Regarding what came to be known as Operation Desert Storm, he told the New York Times in 1990:

”If you get involved in a major ground war in the Saudi desert, I think support will erode significantly. Nor should it be supported. We cannot even contemplate, in my view, trading American blood for Iraqi blood.” 

He also opposed U.S. military operations in Somalia, Haiti, and (initially) Bosnia. From Kosovo on, and certainly after 9/11, McCain has been far more hawkish. But at the time of the 2000 election, when the "fanboys" first acquired their McCain infatuation, the senator actually had a fairly mixed record on military force.