Reihan is having an argument with himself about McCain's foreign policy vision. He wrote this for the Spectator:
Whereas Democratic partisans accuse McCain of being a warmonger, the truth is that he believes that force should be used sparingly. And he believes that when force is used, it must be used effectively and with a clear goal in mind, a belief that was at the centre of his dispute with Donald Rumsfeld. Barack Obama and the Democrats made great hay out of McCain’s assertion that it would be fine for US troops to remain in Iraq for 100 years provided there were no casualties. What they don’t mention is that in 2004 McCain explicitly opposed the creation of permanent US bases in Iraq. Whereas Obama’s foreign policy ideology led him to oppose the surge, McCain’s foreign policy pragmatism will make him a more effective commander-in-chief. That is a message McCain needs to get across.
He adds later:
Sparingly? Hasn’t McCain backed force whenever the option was even remotely plausible? I actually don’t think he has. To be sure, he’s not a devotee of the Powell-Weinberger doctrine. But when you look at Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, I think you had three compelling cases for the use of force, certainly from the vantage point of when those decisions were made. What was distinctive about McCain is that in each case he believed that we should deploy a decisive force. Will he be similarly inclined to deploy force to settle disputes in Georgia, Burma, the Nigerian delta, etc., etc.? I doubt it.