LOS ANGELES (AP) -- John McCain, outlining his foreign policy positions on the heels of an overseas trip, is renewing his call for the United States to work more collegially with democratic nations and live up to its duties as a world leader.
"Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed," the Republican said in prepared remarks a few days after returning from the Middle East and Europe. "We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies."
The pitch, scheduled for an appearance Wednesday before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, is a fresh acknowledgment by the GOP's likely presidential nominee that the United States' standing on the world stage has been tarnished and that the country has an image problem after eight years of President Bush at the helm.
Critics at home and abroad have accused Bush of employing a go-it-alone foreign policy in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when the administration spurned international calls for caution and led the invasion into Iraq. Democrats have derided McCain as offering the same foreign policies as Bush, whose support is at a low point as the public craves change.
But McCain, mindful of a need to lay out his own vision for the future and distance himself from the unpopular Republican president, voices a more collaborative approach.
"The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone," McCain said. Instead, the country must lead by attracting others to its cause, demonstrating the virtues of freedom and democracy, defending the rules of an international civilized society, and creating new international institutions to advance peace and freedom, he said.
"If we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity ... it will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism," said McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war who has decades of experience in the Senate on foreign affairs.
McCain's campaign billed the foreign policy speech as a major address, the first of several set for the coming weeks as the GOP nominee-in-waiting seeks to reintroduce himself to the general public and outline his stances on a range of issues.
Judging by excerpts made available by the campaign, however, the speech initially appeared to offer little more than repackaged previous proposals, including his push for better relationships with democratic allies.
He again called for creating a new global compact of more than 100 democratic countries to advance shared values and defend shared interests. He also advocated anew a successor to the Kyoto Treaty.
As he has before, he said the country should work with friendly African governments but demand both transparency and the rule of law, and he set a goal of eradicating malaria on the continent. He also said the United States should lead a global nuclear disarmament effort as he called for a renewed commitment to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
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