Senator McCain gives students a master class in foreign policy

John McCain
John McCain taught a master class on foreign policy at the Freeman Spogli Institute. (Photo: Rod Searcey)

U.S. Sen. JOHN McCAIN told a group of Stanford undergraduates that technological innovation had created unparalleled opportunities for the United States, as well as new national security risks.

“This has changed the world,” McCain told the students as he held up his smartphone. McCain taught the class during a recent visit to Silicon Valley.

“This is the biggest change in our ability to inform and educate than any invention since the printing press.”

However, McCain told students that he believes the United States needs to develop a clearer policy for responding to cyberattacks from foreign nations.

“You’ve got to accept a fundamental premise, that cyberattacks are an act of war … but that doesn’t mean you’re going to war in a conventional fashion,” he said.

“The people who are doing these cyberattacks have to realize that the costs will be higher than the benefits of the attack. Everybody has to know that there will be a price to pay for it.”

McCain called on the students to step up and defend the United States in cyberspace.

“I would call on the people here to help us develop defensive capabilities and, frankly, offensive capabilities,” McCain said.

In the wide-ranging conversation, McCain fielded questions from students and shared his views on the conflict in Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, Russia’s ambitions and the pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The 40 students who met with McCain were selected for their interest in international affairs and politics. They included representatives from the Center for International Security and Cooperation’s honors program, Hoover Institution National Security mentees and members of the Stanford in Government student group.

Read the entire story on the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies website.