Is there mayhem anywhere in the world where Sen. John “Wars-R-Us” McCain doesn’t show up? Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Korea, Syria. Hotspot theatrics have become a McCain specialty providing him an international bullhorn to spout his … well it’s not called a “bullhorn” for nothing. Problem is all too often his hawkish tirades overshadow the intelligence and military communities’ meticulous fact-finding, the State Department’s sensitive negotiations and the rigorous congressional policy debates that should all occur outside the emotional spotlight. OK, so as a member on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees his taxpayer-funded jaunts to actual American combat zones might make some sense. But Ukraine! C’mon. For the past month, thousands of demonstrators have filled Kiev’s Independence Square protesting President Viktor Yanukovych’s last minute refusal — under Russian pressure — to sign an agreement bringing Ukraine closer to the European Union. Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine instead to join the Russian-led customs and trade union along with Belarus and Kazakhstan. And of course who’s there to stir the pot? John McCain.
“We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe,” McCain patronizingly informed the protesters. In an interview later with NBC News, he warned that Congress would give “serious consideration” to sanctions against democratic Ukraine if it signed the deal with Russia instead of with Europe. I guess to McCain “free and independent determination” only counts if you pick Door Number One. Russia is also negotiating with non-EU members Switzerland and Norway as well as Vietnam, New Zealand and Uzbekistan to create a Eurasian Economic Union. Will McCain also decide to threaten those countries? Ukraine, sitting on the western border of Russia, has strong cultural, religious and economic ties to the larger country going back to at least the 1600s. Originally called “Kievan Rus” — from which “Russia” is a derivative — it became one of the first Soviet Republics following the Russian revolution in 1917 and was a founder of the Commonwealth of Independent States formed with Russia and Belarus after the fall of communism in 1991. Over 45 percent of its foreign trade is currently with Russia and it’s dependent on it for its oil and natural gas. McCain admits Ukraine is “really in bad economic shape.” Oh good. Just what the EU needs, another country in bad economic shape. We have this very offensive habit of sticking our national nose into other countries’ business way too often. And as McCain arrogantly demonstrated, we always think we know what’s best for them. McCain was once the kind of independent political maverick whose views were eagerly sought. It’s time for the media to realize he’s become just a grouchy old coot yelling at the kids to keep off the lawn. Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.