While the Democratic Party Presidential candidate race still appears to be a close call, the Republican one has formed ranks around U.S. Senator John McCain from Arizona. McCain, who is a former U.S. Navy pilot and prisoner of war, Also contended for the Republican Party’s nomination in 2007, before losing to U.S. President George W. Bush. Now that McCain is the definite GOP choice for the presidency, many Jews, both in America and in Israel, wonder how the 4 term senator’s policies will be towards Israel.
McCain comes from a family of professional naval officers, and both his father and grandfather were naval admirals. His own military record, largely centered around his experiences during the Vietnam War, is exemplary with his receiving virtually every distinguished service award except the Congressional Medal of Honor. His five and half years of captivity in what became known as the “Hanoi Hilton” resulted in his having serious physical limitations, including not being able to comb his hair. This hasn’t limited his ability, nor his desire to lead his country in the capacity of Commander in Chief.
Though his official policies toward Israel are still to be unveiled, his private feelings have been expressed on several occasions, including a speech he made in St. Louis during the time of the 2006 war in Lebanon:
“My dear friends, you have probably seen our European friends say, ‘Well, the Israelis have got to stop.’ But what would we do if somebody came across our borders and killed our soldiers and captured our soldiers? Do you think we would be exercising total restraint?”
If one were to examine John McCain’s military service record, in which he flew more than 27 combat missions against the North Vietnamese, it is easy to see that he has more military experience than any U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
McCain, probably more even than President Bush, appreciates the fight against terrorism and aggression by totalitarian Middle Eastern countries that Israel has been involved in since it’s inception in 1948. His five and a half years as a POW in North Vietnam, much of it involving torture that contributed to the his disabilities, also gives him great sympathy towards the families of Israeli solders who have been captured by Israel’s adversaries, including the Palestinians and the Hezbollah.. McCain is considered to be a “hawk” in regards to his feelings towards containing foreign aggression, which is another reason why he is surely an admirer of Israeli military actions against people who are also enemies of the USA.
And judging from his remarks concerning the situation in Iraq, and of course his own personal experiences as a POW, he’s not likely to have much sympathy towards organizations like Hamas or Hezbollah.
Taking these factors into account, John McCain will certainly have Israel’s strategic security problems on his agenda should he be elected president in the upcoming elections in November.