Nixon, who could get into a funk over domestic opponents, was capable of an eerie detachment when it came to evaluating foreign leaders. He could also appreciate the historic insecurities that led countries to distrust the United States and each other. He confined his apocalyptic warnings of a worldwide communist conspiracy to domestic politics. He understood that beneath the appearance of socialist solidarity lay growing hostility between Russia and China, which the United States could exploit.
By contrast, McCain is a radical idealist who wants to transform the world and is reluctant to acknowledge limits to this enterprise.
He imagines a "democratic" Iraq opposed to Iran and occupied indefinitely by American troops. And McCain does not seem to possess Nixon's detachment when it comes to foreign affairs. He can't see what drove Putin and now his successor to distance themselves from the United States; or what--since the time of the pro-American Shah--has driven Iran, irrespective of Ahmadinejad, to seek a nuclear capability.