Barack Obama Election 2008 Foreign Policy McCain National Security Obama Politics

The Scowcroft Conspiracy

Not quite a conspiracy – but Joshua Micah Marshall just reported on the final piece of the puzzle I seem to have been missing  that helps explain:

  • the endorsement of Obama by Colin Powell;
  • the constant chatter about keeping Bob Gates on as Defense Secretary since at least September; and
  • the tacit support of Obama by Chuck Hagel – from his criticisms of McCain during the election to his accompanying Obama on his European tour during the campaign.

The final piece being – Brent Scowcroft (h/t Andrew Sullivan), the former National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush and a former Lieutenant General in the Air Force, and a guy so personally close to George H. W. Bush that he co-wrote Bush’s memoirs with him.

Hagel, Powell, and Gates all have been close allies of Scowcroft, especially in fighting against neo-conservatives in the George W. Bush administration. And he has apparently been working behind-the-scenes with Obama and his foreign policy team since the summer at latest.

Indeed, the roots of this defection of foreign policy realist Republicans to the Obama camp can probably be seen in this April 2008 article in the New York Times in which Lawrence Eagleburger, of the realist camp himself, describes a battle going on for McCain’s “soul” between the realist and neoconservative Republican foreign policy camps. By the summer, it became pretty clear which side had won that battle – as McCain embraced one neoconservative position after another and surrogates claimed he wanted to “kill the United Nations.”

By the summer, Scowcroft had begun to unofficially advise the Obama campaign; there was talk of Bob Gates staying on at Defense; Senator Hagel began to criticize McCain while praising Obama; and Powell decided to endorse Obama publicly.

Election 2008 McCain Obama Politics The Opinionsphere

John McCain’s America

[digg-reddit-me]I’m not sure I agree with Scott Horton’s claim that Powell’s endorsement as brilliant as he thinks it was. But I certainly agree that it’s resonance and it’s place in history comes from this:

Powell made clear that he was opposing a friend of 25 years at some personal cost but for principled reasons. He believed that McCain would make a fine President but he was concerned by McCain’s uneven response to crisis, by his selection of Sarah Palin, and by the tone and tenor of his campaign–framed on an appeal to the baser instincts of the population. Indeed, if one passage of the Powell endorsement is preserved by posterity, it will be the remarkable image he presented of the young mother of a Muslim soldier killed in service to country…

As a college student in a Muslim nation allied with ours told Horton:

Okay, perhaps McCain is not an anti-Muslim bigot, but he seems to think that the best way to be elected president is to whip his fellow citizens into an anti-Muslim frenzy. Our nation is America’s ally, but I can’t avoid thinking, watching the McCain campaign—is this man going to make war on us too?

This is why Osama Bin Laden has a clear preference in this election. It’s not that McCain is a racist or a bad man – it’s that he represents – both in America and in the rest of the world – because of his campaign and who he is facing in his campaign – an intolerant America, an insular America, an America that hates Muslims and foreigners – instead of the America that fights for freedom, that is new and young and refreshing and tolerant – the America Barack Obama represents.