August 27, 2018

‘Resolute in his beliefs, even pugnacious’: McCain remembered as tough on military brass

Featuring Richard Fontaine

Source: The Washington Post

Journalist Paul Sonne

It didn’t matter how many stars were on their epaulets. It didn’t matter what heroic acts they had performed on the battlefield.

When Sen. John McCain was questioning the nation’s generals and admirals on Capitol Hill, the gloves came off.

“So, basically, general, what you’re telling us is that everything is fine as we see hundreds and thousands of refugees leave and flood Europe, as we see, now, 250,000 Syrians slaughtered?” McCain asked the top U.S. general in charge of the Middle East in 2015.

“Of course, then, the question springs to mind: What else didn’t you investigate? If we didn’t investigate a gross and egregious violation such as that,” he said during the fallout to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq in 2004.

“Gentlemen, the credibility gap between you and Congress is as wide as the Grand Canyon.” That was in the 1990s, regarding the presence of U.S. troops in Bosnia.

Such questions and comments were typical of the Arizona Republican’s approach in the Senate, where he served as a member of the Armed Services Committee for more than three decades and since 2015 as chairman of the powerful committee overseeing the military.

The top military brass and civilian leaders at the Pentagon knew that McCain, who died Saturday at the age of 81, would be tough when they came to the chamber to testify. He often narrowed his eyes as they dissembled under his questioning.

McCain’s political career earned him a reputation as a hawkish advocate of military intervention and an impassioned supporter of the American armed services. Even so, the retired Navy captain and pilot hardly ever gave the Pentagon leadership a pass.

Read the Full Article at The Washington Post


  • Richard Fontaine

    Chief Executive Officer

    Richard Fontaine is the Chief Executive Officer of CNAS. He served as President of CNAS from 2012–19 and as Senior Fellow from 2009–12. Prior to CNAS, he was foreign policy ad...