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Washington Post Column Features McCain Institute’s Fight for Ukraine & Democracy

“The late senator’s institute has taken the lead among outside groups trying to keep his worldview relevant, especially in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.”


Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post


The McCain Institute’s work to uphold Senator McCain’s values is the subject of a recent column by The Washington Post’s Congressional Bureau Chief Paul Kane. McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas and Board Chairman Rick Davis were both interviewed by Kane for the column, which follows the five-year anniversary of Senator McCain’s passing and what would have been his 87th birthday.

“It [the McCain Institute] promotes his views on defending democracy and human rights around the world. One of the institute’s central roles now is building outside coalitions to shore up political support for defending Ukraine against the Russian invasion,” Kane writes.

“John McCain would be in Ukraine,” Farkas says. “He would be manning the barricades.”

Read more excerpts from the column below and see the full article HERE.

McCain’s political heirs carry on his fight against Trumpian isolationism
The Washington Post, September 2, 2023
Analysis by Paul Kane, Congressional bureau chief

“As he hit the crescendo of his presidential nomination speech, Sen. John McCain returned to the roots of the unexpected revival of his campaign.

“’Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each other, for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America,’ McCain (R-Ariz.) declared Sept. 4, 2008, closing the Republican National Convention. ‘Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit.’

“Left for politically dead in the summer of 2007, McCain turned around his presidential campaign by stumping for a more aggressive approach to the Iraq War. He regularly joked about how when he looked into the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he saw three letters: ‘KGB.’

“’Those days are long gone,’ Rick Davis, McCain’s 2008 campaign manager, lamented in a recent interview.

“Davis serves on the board of the McCain Institute, founded in D.C. a few years before the senator’s death on Aug. 25, 2018. It promotes his views on defending democracy and human rights around the world. One of the institute’s central roles now is building outside coalitions to shore up political support for defending Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

“Now five years after his death turned into a call to arms for Democrats and Republicans who believed in U.S. engagement abroad, McCain’s traditional Republican views of national security face their most difficult fight against the isolationist views of former president Donald Trump.

“’John McCain would be in Ukraine,’” Evelyn Farkas, the executive director of the institute, said in a recent interview, reciting the late senator’s ‘show up’ approach to using congressional delegation trips to demonstrate support. ‘He would be manning the barricades.’

“To that end, Farkas plans to lead a group of business leaders to Kyiv in the fall, part of the McCain Institute’s Ukraine Business Alliance. Lawmakers might be invited to join the trip so they see that even prominent members of the private sector, including Microsoft and other tech companies, support the defense of Ukraine.

“In April, the McCain Institute hosted an event in the Capitol with lawmakers educating them about Russia’s 25-year prison term for journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza (a contributor to The Washington Post) for speaking out against Putin. Kara-Murza, who previously spoke at McCain Institute events, served as a pallbearer at the late senator’s 2018 funeral.

“’The international order has kept us out of World War III,’ Farkas said, explaining how she tries to educate lawmakers about the domino effect if Putin wins in Ukraine. ‘There’s a lot at stake here for every human.’

“Foreign leaders treated McCain as the equivalent of a secretary of state or defense when one of his congressional delegations landed, Davis recalled. ‘The man carried the weight of America around the world with him.’

“Now those views are growing out of fashion, even with the newest Republicans in the Senate. McCain liked his share of political fights, even those he lost, frequently deploying the ‘a fight not joined was a fight not enjoyed’ line.

“‘I think he would be angry,’ Davis said of the current state of global affairs. ‘He would’ve rolled up his sleeves, hit the floor of the Senate.’

“The question is, for McCain’s heirs, who will join those fights in the years to come?”

Publish Date
September 5, 2023