Reuters uncritically reported McCain adviser's assertion that McCain no longer believes Russia should be excluded from G-8

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Reuters falsely suggested that Sen. John McCain most recently called for Russia to be excluded from the Group of Eight major industrialized nations (G-8) in October 2007, and uncritically quoted an anonymous McCain adviser's assertion that McCain no longer holds that position. In fact, McCain again called for Russia to be excluded from the G-8 in a March 2008 speech.

A June 25 Reuters article falsely suggested that Sen. John McCain most recently called for Russia to be excluded from the Group of Eight major industrialized nations (G-8) in October 2007, and uncritically quoted an anonymous McCain adviser's assertion that McCain no longer holds that position. The article reported that analysts cite "McCain's call for Russia to be excluded from the Group of Eight major industrialized nations as a neoconservative position that could inhibit his more moderate call for arms reduction talks with Moscow" and later stated that the McCain adviser "dismissed McCain's comment last October on Russia and the G-8 as 'a holdover from an earlier period,' adding: 'It doesn't reflect where he is right now.' "

However, McCain proposed excluding Russia from the G-8 in a March 26 speech on foreign policy before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, in which he stated: "We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia."

The blog Think Progress first flagged the Reuters article and pointed to McCain's more recent remarks on excluding Russia from the G-8 in a June 25 entry.

From McCain's March 26 speech:

The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the world. The bonds we share with Europe in terms of history, values, and interests are unique. Americans should welcome the rise of a strong, confident European Union as we continue to support a strong NATO. The future of the transatlantic relationship lies in confronting the challenges of the twenty-first century worldwide: developing a common energy policy, creating a transatlantic common market tying our economies more closely together, addressing the dangers posed by a revanchist Russia, and institutionalizing our cooperation on issues such as climate change, foreign assistance, and democracy promotion.

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia's nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization's doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

From the June 25 Reuters article:

"If I were Obama's people I would just say: 'Neocon, neocon, neocon.' That would be a fun thing to do," said a McCain adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the campaign.

"But McCain knows his own mind, and I wouldn't call him uniformly one thing or another."

A "neocon" is more inclined than other conservatives to support vigorous government advocacy of morality and interventionist foreign policy. Neoconservatives such as former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz were key architects of the Iraq war and Bush's doctrine of military pre-emption.

Analysts say McCain could also be vulnerable to contradictory statements that suggest rivalry between neoconservatives who influenced Bush on Iraq and other foreign policy issues and another foreign policy camp of so-called realists such as Henry Kissinger.

They cite for instance McCain's call for Russia to be excluded from the Group of Eight major industrialized nations as a neoconservative position that could inhibit his more moderate call for arms reduction talks with Moscow.

[...]

Derek Chollet, of the Center for a New American Security, said inconsistency is a sign of turmoil among Republican foreign policy experts who have been widely discredited in the minds of voters after seven years of the Bush administration. Chollet was an adviser to former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat who ran for president.

Democrats say the Republican candidate who staunchly supports the Iraq war and once jokingly sang "bomb Iran" to the tune of the 1960s Beach Boys hit "Barbara Ann," already has to reassure voters that "I hate war" in a current campaign ad.

"McCain's going to run hard on foreign policy and Obama's not trying to change the subject. Democrats are better prepared and more confident on foreign policy issues than at any time since the end of the Cold War," he said.

The McCain adviser denied any serious policy differences inside the campaign and says some of the candidate's more moderate remarks, including his embrace of multilateralism, were advocated also by neocons.

"The speech-writing has been within a pretty tight circle and everybody talks to everybody else. There have not been big wars over these speeches," said the adviser.

He also dismissed McCain's comment last October on Russia and the G-8 as "a holdover from an earlier period," adding: "It doesn't reflect where he is right now."

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
Reuters
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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