Flashback: McCain spells out his vision for FP

David McNew/Getty Images We’ve just made this piece by current Republican nominee John McCain from FP‘s Summer 1996 issue available for free. Titled “Imagery or Purpose: The Choice in November,” it was written as an endorsement of ’96 Republican candidate Bob Dole’s foreign-policy platform. (Then Senator Tom Daschle wrote on behalf of Bill Clinton.) What’s ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
595755_080328_mccain2.jpg
595755_080328_mccain2.jpg
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 26: Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gives an address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council March 26, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. McCain spoke on U.S. foreign policy at the breakfast event hosted by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew/Getty Images

We've just made this piece by current Republican nominee John McCain from FP's Summer 1996 issue available for free. Titled "Imagery or Purpose: The Choice in November," it was written as an endorsement of '96 Republican candidate Bob Dole's foreign-policy platform. (Then Senator Tom Daschle wrote on behalf of Bill Clinton.)

What's striking about the piece -- rediscovered deep within the cavernous FP archives thanks to the National Security Network -- is how much of it could have been written today. Among the issues McCain discusses are North Korea's nuclear program, democratic backsliding in Russia, expanding NATO, turmoil in the Balkans, and the threat of an emerging China. McCain attacks Clinton for indecisiveness, inconsistency, and an "inclination to seek solutions to problems that merely postpone their worst consequences."

David McNew/Getty Images

We’ve just made this piece by current Republican nominee John McCain from FP‘s Summer 1996 issue available for free. Titled “Imagery or Purpose: The Choice in November,” it was written as an endorsement of ’96 Republican candidate Bob Dole’s foreign-policy platform. (Then Senator Tom Daschle wrote on behalf of Bill Clinton.)

What’s striking about the piece — rediscovered deep within the cavernous FP archives thanks to the National Security Network — is how much of it could have been written today. Among the issues McCain discusses are North Korea’s nuclear program, democratic backsliding in Russia, expanding NATO, turmoil in the Balkans, and the threat of an emerging China. McCain attacks Clinton for indecisiveness, inconsistency, and an “inclination to seek solutions to problems that merely postpone their worst consequences.”

It’s also worth noting that the piece comes from the period between the interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, when McCain is said to have shifted from an intervention-skeptic to a neoconservative hawk. In light of this transformation, it’s interesting that McCain’s primary criticism of Clinton is the latter’s ideological capriciousness:

The president is quite skillful at discarding one identity for its opposite. His success at reinvention is a testament to the astonishing ease with which he appropriates the arguments of his critics and then lays claim to first authorship.

Spoken like a man who’s never run for president.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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