John McCain is a warmonger. The Arizona senator’s presidential campaign might go ballistic when you make that assertion, as they did recently when, at a Barack Obama rally, radio talk show host Ed Schultz did, in fact, said just that. But it’s true.

John McCain misguidedly criticized the Clinton administration in the 1990s for not escalating the Kosovo conflict into a full-fledged war by sending American ground troops into the region. McCain assailed George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primary for being insufficiently hawkish and was one of the key congressional proponents for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. McCain has pushed for confrontation with North Korea and hilariously sung a Beach Boys parody about the need to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. Since the dictionary definition for warmonger is “a person who advocates, endorses, or tries to precipitate war,” John McCain’s long history of advocating, endorsing and trying to precipitate war surely fits the description.

If McCain doesn’t like the warmonger label, perhaps he would care to name one American war in his over 25-year’s of congressional service that he didn’t support. Of course he can’t, as there aren’t any. McCain has, however, been rather adept at deflecting the warmonger persona by referencing his time served in a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam by frequently proclaiming on the campaign trail he “hates war.” Because I don’t have any ability to peer into Sen. McCain’s psyche or elucidate his personal beliefs on the appropriate circumstances in which to use military force, I will simply point out that for a guy who supposedly hates war, he sure seems to favor starting a bunch of them.

After eight years of the Bush administration’s bombastic and arrogant approach toward dealing with foreign nations, the next president needs to wholeheartedly pursue diplomacy and rebuild burned bridges throughout the world. Now is not the time for saber rattling, yet that is precisely what a McCain presidency promises.

When dealing with the conflicts in the Middle East, America needs a leader willing to engage in complexity and nuance – not the blustering combativeness McCain offers. Last week, when the Iraqi army backed by the U.S. military fought radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army to a stalemate, McCain referred to the conflict as a blow against Iran. Although the Mahdi Army may have received arms and money from Iran, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council – the country’s dominant political party and a key backer of the current Iraqi government – was founded in Iran and too receives money and arms from the Iranians. In other words, McCain thinks it’s in the United States’ interest to have American soldiers fight alongside one Iran-backed Iraqi militia in a conflict with another Iran-backed Iraqi militia. And he thinks it’s a blow against Iran! Iran checkmated the U.S. the moment George W. Bush and John McCain invaded Iraq. Our only hope at salvaging something remotely stable from the country is through diplomatic engagement with the Iranians – not singing songs about bombing them.

McCain’s approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian crises has too been tainted by his characteristically clueless belligerency. Last week, McCain impugned former President Jimmy Carter for meeting with members of the radical Palestinian group Hamas, and attacked presidential candidate Barack Obama for not outrightly criticizing Carter by asking, “If Sen. Obama is not decisive enough to condemn former President Carter, how can he be strong enough to deal with the threat they pose?” This occurred just days after Hamas’ political leader indicated he would be willing to accept a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 boundaries. That isn’t to assert Hamas is not an extremist group – it is – but that for the first time in years, a compromise seems at least faintly possible. To foster a Middle East peace agreement, America must act as mediator. Yet McCain’s rhetoric and record offer hostility, not a commitment to peace or reconciliation.

McCain has consistently shunned diplomacy and compromise in favor of escalating existing conflicts and waging more war. It would be refreshing if McCain – the supposedly “straight-talking” candidate – would embrace the warmonger label and campaign as the warmongering successor to George W. Bush. Because if McCain wins the presidency, that’s exactly what this country – and the world – are going to get.