THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE: John McCain’s reputation as a maverick is no recent contrivance. The senator first captured the media spotlight in September 1983, not long after he’d been elected to his first term in the House, when he voted against President Reagan’s decision to put American troops in Lebanon as part of a multinational “peacekeeping” force. One of 27 Republicans to break with the White House, the freshman McCain made a floor speech that reads as if it might have been written yesterday — by Ron Paul:
The fundamental question is: What is the United States’ interest in Lebanon IRAQ? It is said we are there to keep the peace. I ask, what peace? It is said we are there to aid the government. I ask, what government? It is said we are there to stabilize the region. I ask, how can the U.S. presence stabilize the region?… The longer we stay in Lebanon IRAQ, the harder it will be for us to leave. We will be trapped by the case we make for having our troops there in the first place.
What can we expect if we withdraw from Lebanon IRAQ? The same as will happen if we stay. I acknowledge that the level of fighting will increase if we leave. I regretfully acknowledge that many innocent civilians will be hurt. But I firmly believe this will happen in any event.
Now insert “Iraq” where McCain said “Lebanon.” It’s as if McCain the Younger foresaw our present predicament and taunted his future incarnation, showing that wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. MORE