John McCain on Defense

“Rogue state rollback” avoids use of US troops

Q: You’ve talked about something that you have called “rogue state rollback,” which means, as I understand it, arming and paying for rebel armies in countries like Iraq to overthrow governments that we don’t like. Will we have a moral obligation under your policy to send American armed forces to help those folks out? A: No, that’s a very narrow interpretation of “rogue state rollback.” That means that you do whatever you can, whether it be the use of propaganda, whether it be used to organize groups outside the country, whether it be arming and training and equipping, depending on what the possibilities are. No, this is an attempt to avoid US military involvement. We do what we can to overthrow these countries which pose a clear and present danger to the security of the US. So you really kind of have two choices: you react militarily, risking American lives, or you try to overthrow that government.
Source: GOP debate in Los Angeles Mar 2, 2000

Disagrees with Perot: No more POWs in Vietnam

Like a lot of POWs in Vietnam, McCain came to know Ross Perot after the POWs were released in 1973. By then, Perot had become well-known for his efforts to help POWs and their families.

Both McCain and Perot remained active in POW matters after the war. But over time they found themselves at opposite ends of the most important issue: Whether American servicemen were still being held in Southeast Asia. Through the early 1990s, Perot insisted that government officials had ignored evidence of servicemen still in captivity, while McCain doubted a conspiracy occurred and believed much evidence of prisoner sightings was discredited. Perot [was accused of] the rash pursuit of conspiracy theories, while McCain became angered by people he thought were creating false hopes that missing servicemen were still alive. Their disagreement led to sharp words at a Senate committee hearing in 1992.

Source: New York Times, p. A10 Feb 26, 2000

Accepts gays in military under current policy

KEYES [to McCain]: I have signed the following pledge: In the interest of national security and the morale of our armed forces, if elected president of the US I pledge to reinstitute the ban on homosexuals serving in our nation’s military. Would you join me, sir, in signing that pledge?

McCAIN: No, I will not. [I agree when] military leaders that you and I respect say that this policy is a good one. I will support the present policy.

Source: Republican Debate in West Columbia, SC Jan 7, 2000

Military’s political leaders need military backgrounds

I think the state of our military is still important. I think the fact that we have a president of the United States, National Security Adviser, a Secretary of State and a Secretary of Defense, none of whom have ever spent one minute wearing the uniform of the United States of America’s military is a disgrace, and we’re going to change that.
Source: Republican Debate in West Columbia, SC Jan 7, 2000

Keep “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy - it works

Q. Would your Joint Chiefs of Staff support allowing gays to serve openly in the military? A: I would make sure that a policy that’s working and is working and should work was continued. Yes, [the policy] has troubles; yes, it needs some reviews or changes, fine tuning; and I’ll be glad to support such a thing. But, I cannot change a policy that’s working. And our military leaders are the ones whose advise we should rely on.
Source: Republican Debate in Durham, NH Jan 6, 2000

Women have proven themselves in combat-no restrictions

Q: Do you think it’s a good idea to prohibit women from combat? A: No, I don’t and it’s already been proven in the Persian Gulf War that women performed extraordinarily with heroism and skill and courage including in a POW experience.
Source: Des Moines Iowa GOP Debate Dec 13, 1999

Terminate C-130, B-2, and Seawolf; use funds to modernize

McCain asserted that US military preparedness is dangerously inadequate, and names specific weapons systems he considered unnecessary, elimination of which would provide some of the funds needed to modernize the military and increase preparedness. He said that the C-130 military transport aircraft, the B-2 stealth bomber, and the Seawolf submarine should all be taken out of production. He noted that for years Congress has forced the Air Force to buy more C-130s than its leaders wanted.
Source: Boston Globe, p. A19 Dec 8, 1999

Politicians keep unneeded bases open for political purposes

McCain said numerous unneeded military bases, which have been kept open by congressmen eager to avoid unemployment & dislocation in their districts, should be closed. That, along with eliminating unnecessary weapons systems, would save up to $20 billion that could modernize forces to face current threats, he said. McCain took pains to absolve military leaders of blame for the lack of preparedness, faulting instead what he called gross neglect of real military needs by politicians from both parties.
Source: Boston Globe, p. A19 Dec 8, 1999

Keep health care promises to aging veterans

McCain fears the dying generation of WWII veterans is being shortchanged in health care at an age when the old soldiers’ medical needs are more expensive than ever. “Our WWII veterans, the greatest generation, they’re dying at 30,000 a month, & they’re not getting the care they’ve been promised,” McCain said. “If you’ve got a flat budget, and millions of Americans who need expensive long-term and geriatric care, it doesn’t match up.” McCain said he plans to announce soon a “Contract with Veterans.”
Source: The Sunday Enterprise (Brockton, MA), p. A7 Nov 21, 1999

Bombing useless targets in Vietnam destroyed US morale

When I was first on the Forrestal, every man in my squadron had thought Washington’s air war plans were senseless. The target list was so restricted that we had to go back and hit the same targets over and over again. It’s hard to get a sense that you are advancing the war effort when you are prevented from doing anything more than bouncing the rubble of an utterly insignificant target. When President Johnson ordered an end to Operation Rolling Thunder in 1968, the campaign was judged to have had no measurable impact on the enemy. Most of our pilots flying the missions believed that our targets were virtually worthless. In all candor, we thought our civilian commanders were complete idiots who didn’t have the least notion of what it took to win the war. I found no evidence in postwar studies of the Johnson administration’s political and military decision-making during the war that caused me to revise that harsh judgement.
Source: “Faith of My Fathers”, p. 185-6 Nov 9, 1999

Vietnam was a worthy cause despite losing

My country had failed in Vietnam. There is much to regret about America’s failure. The reasons are etched in black marble on the Washington Mall. But we had believed the cause that America had asked us to serve in Vietnam was a worthy one, and millions who defended it had done so honorably.
Source: “Faith of My Fathers”, p. 348 Nov 9, 1999

$6.4B of military spending waste is a disgrace

The President and the Congress have allowed the military to deteriorate. I identified $6.4 billion worth of waste, worth of projects we don’t need or want. It is enraging. I get angry when we spend $350 million on a carrier the Navy doesn’t want or need; 500 and some-million dollars on an airplane, a C-130, that the Air Force has said for years they don’t need. And meanwhile, we have 12,000 enlisted families on food stamps. That’s a disgrace! I am going to fix it as president.
Source: Republican Debate at Dartmouth College Oct 29, 1999

Pres. needs experience more than briefing books

McCain said there are times when the commander-in-chief “can no longer rely on briefing books & talking points. When a President makes life & death decisions he should draw wisdom from the deep experience with the reasons for and the risks of committing our children to our defense. No matter how many others are involved in the decision, the President is a lonely man in a dark room when the casualty reports come in. I am not afraid of that burden. I know both the blessing and the price of freedom.”
Source: Alison Mitchell, New York Times, p. A20 Sep 28, 1999

Raise military pay to avoid military draft

McCain opposes reviving a military draft even though enlistments are down and the services could be forced to return to selective conscription if they can’t fill the ranks with higher pay and improved benefits. The modern military requires technical skills to operate today’s sophisticated weapons, and it takes a long time to acquire those skills, McCain said. McCain blamed Congress for the shortage, saying it has failed to provide the necessary funding to raise military pay & benefits.
Source: Associated Press Aug 3, 1999

Military personnel on food stamps is a national disgrace

The military is not seen as an attractive option, McCain said. McCain told the local Rotary Club that there are 11,000 military personnel on food stamps. “That’s a national disgrace,” he said.
Source: Associated Press Aug 3, 1999

Discard ABM Treaty and develop a missile defense

A massive nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union is no longer our central preoccupation. The threat is much more diverse, and more difficult to deter. We urgently need a practical ballistic missile defense, and the ABM Treaty is for the moment blocking us from obtaining it. [We should develop] a defense against terrorists and rogue states that will benefit all nations. Let us praise the good intentions that created the ABM Treaty, then consign it to the history pages where it belongs.
Source: “Position Papers” 4/30/99 Apr 30, 1999

Use force, with US control, only for vital interests

Force has a role in but is not a substitute for diplomacy. All means short of force should be employed first. [We should not risk] American lives in quarrels that are entirely someone else’s affair, where no faction is committed to our values, and no vital interest is at stake. When force must be used, have clear rules of engagement, define an achievable mission, and bring [US troops] home as soon as possible. And never accept foreign or “dual key” authority for the command of US military operations.
Source: “Position Papers” 4/30/99 Apr 30, 1999

Europeans should spend more on defense, within NATO

As we approach the 50th anniversary of NATO, the Atlantic Alliance is in pretty bad shape. Our allies are spending far too little on their own defense to maintain the alliance as an effective military force. [And Europeans have a] growing determination to develop a defense identity separate from NATO. We [should encourage defense growth] only within the institutions of NATO. Defense structures accountable to the WEU or any other organization other than the alliance will ultimately kill the alliance.
Source: “Position Papers” 4/30/99 Apr 30, 1999

Voted NO on adopting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would ban nuclear weapons testing six months after ratification by the 44 nations that have nuclear power plants or nucelar research reactors.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Rejected Y)48; N)51; P)1
Reference: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; Bill Treaty Document #105-28 ; vote number 1999-325 on Oct 13, 1999

Voted YES on allowing another round of military base closures.

Vote on an amendment to allow one round of military base closures beginning in 2001 as determined by an independent panel.
Bill S.1059 ; vote number 1999-147 on May 26, 1999

Voted YES on cutting nuclear weapons below START levels.

The Kerrey (D-MA) amdt would strike bill language requiring that U.S. strategic nuclear forces remain at START I levels through the end of fiscal 2000 unless Russia ratified START II.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)56; N)44
Reference: Motion to table Kerrey Amdt #395; Bill S. 1059 ; vote number 1999-149 on May 26, 1999

Voted YES on deploying National Missile Defense ASAP.

Vote that the policy of the US is to deploy a National Missile Defense system capable of defending against limited ballistic missile attack as soon as it is technologically possible, and to seek continued negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces.
Bill S 257 ; vote number 1999-51 on Mar 17, 1999

Voted YES on military pay raise of 4.8%.

Vote to pass a bill to authorize a military pay raise of 4.8% in 2000 and annual pay increases through 2006 of 0.5% above the inflation rate. The bill would also provide additional incentives to certain enlisted personnel who remain on active duty.
Bill S.4 ; vote number 1999-26 on Feb 24, 1999

Voted YES on deploying missile defense as soon as possible.

Vote to limit further debate and proceed to a bill that would require the U.S. to deploy as soon as possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending against a limited ballistic missile attack.
Bill S 1873 ; vote number 1998-262 on Sep 9, 1998

Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex basic training.

Byrd Amdt (D-WV) that would prohibit same-sex military barracks and basic training.
Status: Amdt Rejected Y)39; N)53; NV)8
Reference: Byrd Amdt #3011; Bill S. 2057 ; vote number 1998-180 on Jun 25, 1998

Voted NO on favoring 36 vetoed military projects.

Overturning line-item vetoes of 36 military projects vetoed by President Clinton.
Status: Bill Passed Y)69; N)30; NV)1
Reference: Line Item Veto Cancellation bill; Bill S. 1292 ; vote number 1997-287 on Oct 30, 1997

Voted YES on banning chemical weapons.

Approval of the chemical weapons ban.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Agreed to Y)74; N)26
Reference: Resolution of ratification of the Chemical (Comprehensive) Weapons (Convention) Ban; Bill S. Res. 75 ; vote number 1997-51 on Apr 24, 1997

Voted YES on considering deploying NMD, and amending ABM Treaty.

Vote to consider establishing a policy requiring the deployment of a national missile defense system by the end of 2003. The bill would also urge discussions with Russia to amend the ABM Treaty to allow deployment of the system.
Bill S 1635 ; vote number 1996-157 on Jun 4, 1996

Voted NO on 1996 Defense Appropriations.

Approval of the 1996 Defense Appropriations bill.
Status: Bill Passed Y)62; N)35; NV)3
Reference: Defense Approps Bill FY 96; Bill S. 1087 ; vote number 1995-397 on Sep 5, 1995

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