McCain foreign policy speech calls for global engagement

"The big themes (of McCain's speech) are deepening cooperation with Europe, deepening cooperation with Latin American and the Southern Hemisphere," Mead said.

That includes McCain's call for a League of Democracies. Mead called it a "nice idea" that speaks to frustration with the United Nations because China and Russia can veto anything the U.N. might want to do.

But it's impractical to think a league of democracies could replace the U.N., not only because it might exclude China and perhaps Russia must also many authoritarian regimes in Africa and the Middle East, Mead said.

"It's easier talk about this kind of thing than actually put it together," Mead said.

Chollet said some conservatives oppose the league because of suspicion of international institutions, while liberals worry about alienating China and Russia. But Chollet said it can't hurt to have an organization promoting democratic values worldwide.

"I am one of those who is, 'the more the merrier,'" Chollet said.

McCain, long a proponent of the League of Democracies, said it "can harness the vast influence of more than one hundred democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests."

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