One mistake was when he referred to his "Hero" Ronald Reagan, who he claimed would not sit down with Soviet Premiers Brezhnev, Andropov or Chernenko. McCain claimed that Reagan would not negotiate with the Soviets until Gorbachev was ready with glasnost and perestroika. Brad DeLong has found an April 26, 1982 Time article which says otherwise:
In an interview with Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, Brezhnev rejected President Reagan’s proposal, made earlier this month, that the two leaders meet informally in New York this June after the disarmament talks at the United Nations General Assembly…
In short, McCain is either ignorant or dishonest. And ignorance in this kind of situation is a form of dishonesty. Why bring up Reagan’s refusal to meet with Brezhnev if you haven’t looked up the facts? John McCain was a congressional candidate running for his first term in his forties with a background as a military officer and as a lobbyist for the US Navy. He presumably had an opinion about Ronald Reagan’s conduct of Cold War diplomacy.
Next John McCain seriously misstated his vote concerning the Marines in Lebanon. He claimed that in 1983 he voted against deploying the Marines in Beirut. Except the Marines were sent to Lebanon in 1982, before McCain came to Congress. Now McCain did vote against a measure to invoke the War Powers Act and to authorize the deployment of U.S. Marines in Lebanon for an additional 18 months.
Next John McCain badly misstated the history of Pakistan. McCain claimed Pakistan was a failed state before President Musharraf came to power. This is not true, Pakistan was a democracy when Musharraf took power in a military coup in 1999. Granted Pakistan was a weak democracy, with a great deal to reform, but still had a democratically elected government, and not a "failed state". For someone claiming extensive foreign policy knowledge, this is simply not acceptable.
In one of the most contentious parts of the debate, Barak Obama made the statement that even Henry Kissenger is for more direct talks with Iran. McCain went apoletic, yet at a foreign policy forum on Sept. 15, Kissinger said: "I am in favor of negotiating with Iran."
McCain again claimed that Russia attacked Georgia without provocation, despite numerous reports from OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) observers who were on the ground in the Caucasus that show Georgia had been actively preparing a military strike against South Ossetia and began the attack before Russian tanks entered the Roksky tunnel connecting South Ossetia and Russia. OSCE observers also provided NATO with radio intercepts which show that the Georgian authorities ordered that the attack on South Ossetian civilians at night when they were sleeping. Unfortunately Senator Obama agreed with this mischaracterization.
John McCain is no longer a foreign policy expert, if he ever was one, and is not the captain we should want sailing this country through the troubled waters of the world in the years ahead.