Presidential hopeful John McCain calls for 'League of Democracies'

L.A. Cicero Republican presidential candidate John McCain takes questions

Republican presidential candidate John McCain takes questions from the press following a speech Tuesday at the Hoover Institution. He said the U.S. troop surge in Iraq "should be given an opportunity to succeed."

Presidential candidate John McCain said he would establish a worldwide "League of Democracies" as part of a more cooperative foreign policy if he wins the White House in 2008.

The Republican senator's remarks came during an address at the Hoover Institution May 1. "Americans should lead this effort, as we did 60 years ago in founding NATO," McCain said. "But if we are to lead responsibly, our friends and allies must see us as a responsible nation, concerned not only about our own well-being but about the health of the world's economy and the future of our planet."

McCain, who formally announced his presidential candidacy April 25, said such a league would complement, not supplant, the United Nations and other international bodies. "It would not be like the failed League of Nations of Woodrow Wilson but much more like what Theodore Roosevelt envisioned: like-minded nations working together in the cause of peace," he said. "It would be the one organization where the world's democracies would come together to discuss problems and solutions on the basis of shared principles and a common vision of the future."

While the United States could take a leadership role in such an organization, McCain said, Americans must be willing to listen to and respect the collective will of their democratic allies. "Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom, knowledge and resources necessary to succeed," he said. "When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic or diplomatic, we must work to persuade our democratic friends and allies that we are right. But in return, we must be willing to be persuaded by them. To be a good leader, America must be a good ally."

After his formal address, McCain told journalists that the U.S. troop surge in Iraq is making a difference. He voted against the war funding and troop withdrawal bill that President George Bush vetoed May 1. "I'm not telling you 'last throes.' I'm not telling you 'a few dead-enders.' I'm not telling you 'mission accomplished,'" McCain said. "I'm saying this strategy should be given an opportunity to succeed." The senator acknowledged that the war has been poorly run and said Donald Rumsfeld would go down in history as the nation's worst secretary of defense. But he also said Iraq is not lost and urged Americans to be patient. "I understand the consequences of failure," he said. "I understand the sorrow and frustration Americans feel because this war was terribly mismanaged."