By David Ignatius
Wednesday, August 20, 2008; A15
It was February 2006 in Munich, and John McCain's eyes were flashing with the mischievous spark that comes when he's about to fire a verbal rocket. "I've got a zinger coming," he told me, referring to a speech on Russia he would give a few hours later at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy.
And McCain did indeed deliver a zinger. He blasted Vladimir Putin for "the pursuit of autocracy at home and abroad" -- and then urged that Russia be excluded from the G-8 summit of industrialized nations. For good measure, he included a call for Georgia, already a thorn in Russia's side, to join NATO.
McCain's 2006 speech made news, as he knew it would. So did an address in Munich the night before from Georgia's emotional president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He recalled how he had cried the night the Berlin Wall fell -- and then pleaded for Western support for Georgia's efforts to recover the renegade province of South Ossetia and end what he called the "cancer of separatism."