Friday

22nd Oct 2021

McCain: World 'cries out' for US and EU leadership

  • McCain: "The EU has too many bureaucrats, not much bureaucracy but it's not the only place on earth with that problem." (Photo: Taskforce20)

The world "cries out for American and European leadership" through the EU and Nato, US senator John McCain said on Friday (24 March).

In a "new world order under enormous strain" and in "the titanic struggle with forces of radicalism … we can't stand by and lament, we've got to be involved," said McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate who is now chairman of the armed services committee in the US Senate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking at the Brussels Forum, a conference organised by the German Marshall Fund, a transatlantic think tank, he said that the EU and the US needed to develop "more cooperation, more connectivity".

"I trust the EU," he said, defending an opposite view from that of US president Donald Trump, who said in January that the UK "was so smart in getting out" of the EU and that Nato was "obsolete".

He said that the EU was "one of the most important alliances" for the US and that the EU and Nato were "the best two sums in history", which have maintained peace for the last 70 years.

"We need to rely on Nato and have a Nato that adjusts to new challenges," he said.

He noted that "the EU has too many bureaucrats, not much bureaucracy," but added that "it's not the only place on earth with that problem."

He said that he was "still wondering what the overall effect of Brexit will be" and that he did not know "if this is the beginning of a serious problem for the EU".

McCain also said that he supported Trump's demand that European countries increase their defence spending for Nato.

'Who drives the tweets?'

But he added that Americans should "also appreciate the fact that over 1,000 young [European] people have given their lives in Afghanistan or Iraq”.

"I don't know what price tag you put on that. That's quite a contribution I would say, if you ask their mothers," he said.

The influential senator, who admitted that he has not met Trump since the election, said it was "too early" to pass judgment on his presidency.

He said he was "very pleased" by Trump's picks for his national security team, but suggested that they were being bypassed by more ideological and less competent people.

"The question is: who does the president listen to, who drives the tweets at 6 in morning?”, he said.

Asked whether he thought that "Russia owns a significant part of the White House," he said: "I don't worry about that."

What worries him, he said, was "the Russian role in our elections", even if he admitted that he has seen "no evidence they succeeded” in affecting the outcome of last year's US vote.

'KGB thugs'

Noting that Russia was now trying to influence elections in France and in Germany, he said that if it succeeded it would be "a death warrant for democracy".

"It's an act of destruction that is certainly more lethal than dropping some bombs," he insisted.

McCain, a Russia hawk, said that Putin wanted to restore the Russian empire: “He wants the Baltics, he has taken Crimea, he's been in Ukraine."

"These are KBG thugs, my friends," he said, referring to the former Russian spy service for which Putin used to work. He added that the US needed to "respond accordingly".

He said however that there was "nothing wrong" if Trump met Putin.

"I'm not against meeting," he said, reminding the Brussels forum that US presidents met Soviet leaders during the Cold War. But he added that "the best way to go to a meeting is with a strong hand" and that was not the case for the US right now.

Magazine

The EU and US in the age of Trump

America's face changed when Donald Trump replaced Barack Obama. But one year on, the foundations of the transatlantic relationship are still intact.

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Dutch lawyers take Frontex to EU court over pushbacks
  2. Polish rule-of-law debate boils over to EU summit
  3. MEPs back EU food reform, despite strong lobbying
  4. EU calls for end to gas price speculation
  5. Romania pushes live-animal exports despite EU criticism
  6. MEPs poised to vote blank cheque for Europol using AI tools
  7. EU re-launches mammoth fiscal debates
  8. Czech politics in limbo over Zeman health crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us