Philip Giraldi, the ex-CIA man who writes The American Conservative`s invaluable gossip column, Deep Background, notes in the June 16th issue:
Intelligence analysts who have briefed Sen. John McCain on international issues generally report that he is not very knowledgeable about most parts of the world, despite his years of experience in government and his campaign`s insistence that one of his principal strengths is foreign-policy expertise. When speaking with an area specialist or expert, McCain is primarily interested in stating his own perceptions and is not generally regarded as an attentive listener. Analysts do not like briefing him because he becomes angry and sometimes personally offensive when someone contradicts his view.
It`s really not very hard at all for an important personage wrapped in the glamor of power to persuade lower ranking outsiders that he`s a deep thinker. Obama is the master of it—all you do is tell the person how much you value all the time they`ve put into developing their expertise (implying that you are very busy yourself on so many other important issues), nod attentively as they drone on, then bring up one or two semi-sophisticated questions you had your staff dream up for you ahead of time, and then finally summarize back for them what they just said with an appreciative hint of wonder in your voice implying that the scales are falling from your eyes. The flunkies will go away and tell everybody that you are the new Pericles. But Yosemite John can`t bring himself to do even that.
One analyst stated that McCain`s alleged expertise on international issues is essentially bogus. He speaks no foreign language, and his international experience [prior to Congress] derives from brief postings at military bases, junkets while serving as Navy liaison to the Senate, and the misfortune of his rather more extensive stay in the Hanoi Hilton.
As a Congressman, McCain served on committees dealing with Department of Interior issues, Indian affairs, and the problems of aging—all areas of particular interest to his Arizona constituents. As a senator, he has served on the three committees dealing with the armed services, Indian affairs, and commerce. ...
According to the analysts who have interacted with McCain, his recent misstatements about various Muslim groups and other foreign-policy issues are not slips. They reflect a real lack of interest in other countries that makes it impossible for him to empathize with their problems...
McCain, whose foreign-policy advisers are exclusively neocons, receives regular briefings from the distinguished scholars at the American Enterprise Institute, which are presumably more to his taste than the less colorful information provided by the $42 billion per year intelligence community.