What if John McCain had won in 2008

It’s hard to imagine what the world would now look like had John McCain won in 2008. When I try people tend to fall over each other claiming Iran would have been attacked and the world would be much more dangerous today. I lost a lot of faith in McCain when he selected Sarah Palin. But what sort of world would we live in today?

Would the US have attacked Iran? Not very likely, but would negotiations be as futile as they have become? How about North Korea? McCain would have been friendlier to Israel but would Netanyahu have so completely lead him down the garden path? Would almost open Chinese hacking of vital security interests and theft of intellectual property have met such a lukewarm response? Would the sovereignty of and US standing in Pakistan be so absolutely in tatters?

How about the Iranian Green revolution, the Arab spring, if McCain had held an address in Egypt on june 4th 2009, a week before the Iranian Presidential elections, would he have assumed the message would have fallen on deaf ears? On june 15th, Iranian Presidential candidate and likely winner Mousavi appeared before a crowd of protesters numbering well over 2 million in Tehran; protests against Ahmedinejad lasted some 9 months and were smothered in violence and mass arrests. A huge opening existed then and there to turn the Egypt address into a force of change much more potent than GW Bush’s ill fated war on terror.

Maybe a President John McCain would have sqandered good opportunities just as incompetently. But McCain also went back to Vietnam several times and even met people who once tortured him. Thanks to his efforts the relationship between the US and Vietnam today is about as stellar as one can expect. Such keen diplomacy would have been welcome.


Obama is a professor, surrounded by admiring students in a huge lecture hall, analyzing any and all problems with great insight and wit. One would wish he could be President and turn that insight into executive decisions. But how rare is it to find that combination? The best leaders rarely lose themselves in detail and conjecture; point versus counter point. When President Bartlett had, in the TV show ‘the west wing’, done his Obama, he followed it up with Harry Truman like decisiveness. How can you argue with Obama when he tends to have the best argument? How can you convince him that it is not his role to analyze but to rely on the best trained executive team to analyze for you so you can make the call?

In response to http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cae852cc-80dc-11e2-9c5b-00144feabdc0.html