From the sound of things, when John McCain went to address the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on June 2, he took along his buddies Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham and a pair of kneepads. Senator McCain might as well have come right out and said that President McCain would make protecting Israel America's number one foreign policy objective come hell or Hezbollah. After all, isn't that our top foreign policy priority now? Why change losing strategies in midstream?
More of the McSame
McCain's AIPAC speech was likely the rhetorical template for the rest of his presidential bid: he demonized Iran, made up facts and promised things he can't deliver.
"Foremost in all our minds," he told an appreciative audience of Israel supporters, "is the threat posed by the regime in Tehran." John Boy knows how to play a home crowd, doesn't he?
McCain misquoted Iran's president twice, par for the course in any neocon speech. He spoke of "Tehran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons," blithely ignoring the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (.pdf here) that stated, "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." (I still contend that since the Russians only began work on Iran's first nuclear reactor in the fall of 2002, whatever nuclear weapons program they had must have been kind of thing the kids from South Park could build.)
McCain spoke of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as "a terrorist organization responsible for killing American troops in Iraq." Then Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, who was also a charter member of the infamous Project for the New American Century, promised to provide evidence of Iran's "meddling" in Iraq in January of 2007. The Bush administration has yet to provide any plausible evidence that any faction in Iran is arming or training Iraqi militants.
That's the neoconservative narrative on Iran, though, and McCain is sticking to it. McCain proposed additional measures against Iran, which he expanded on in a press release that appeared at his campaign web site the same day as his AIPAC speech.
One of his most interesting suggestions is "applying sanctions to restrict Iran's ability to import refined petroleum products."
Getting the rest of the world to voluntarily agree to not sell Iran gasoline is as likely as pigs pooping pineapples. President McCain might order a blockade of Iran, which would be an act of war even if the UN and or Congress sanctioned it (which they wouldn't), but a blockade wouldn't keep Russia or China or anyone else who wanted to make money (which would be a lot of people) from transporting gas into Iran overland. The pipeline already exists.
The other proposed measure that caught my eye was, "We will apply the full force of law to prevent business dealings with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps." McCain is apparently talking about the resolution he and Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyle crammed down the Senate's throat that called for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to be designated a terrorist organization. I'd really like to know what American companies are doing business with the IRGC, and why McCain hasn't insisted on doing something about it until now. If McCain is talking about non-U.S. companies doing business with the IRGC, does he actually think they're subject to U.S. law? Could he possibly be that loopy?
I know. Silly question. Sorry.
One need look no further for evidence that McCain's supporters are as goofy as he is than the editorial National Review Online posted the day after McCain's AIPAC speech. NRO editors heartily endorse McCain's proposals for dealing with Iran. Of the "sanctions" on gasoline imports, they admit that, "In practice, this might well require blockading the Persian Gulf," and caution that "A blockade would likely be regarded by the mullahs as an act of war." Heh. It would be and act of war no matter how the mullahs regarded it.
NRO concedes that since an act of war against Iran could, like, uh, provoke a war with Iran, a blockade should be a measure of last resort, but they laud McCain for proposing measures with "teeth" and praise him for putting "the question of gasoline imports on the table" even though they already granted that attempting to limit Iran's gas imports will lead to war.
This is precisely the kind of thinking that got us in the mess we're in now, and the folks trying to convince us that this kind of thinking is the good kind of thinking are the same people who talked us into thinking invading Iraq was a good idea.
Rising neoconservative star Michael Goldfarb of Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard staff just signed aboard the McCain campaign as deputy communications director. Young Goldfarb will be joining an august body of war party luminaries. McCain's foreign policy advisers include Bill Kristol, Dick Armitage, Max Boot, Robert Kagan, Gary Schmitt and James Woolsey.
On the morning of June 4 I contacted McCain's press office by phone. Some kid, maybe Goldfarb, told me to submit my questions in writing via email, so I did. I asked how McCain expected to enforce limits on Iran's oil imports, and if he thought U.S. law applied to foreign companies, and if the McCain staff had consulted with the NRO staff on the June 3 editorial. As of the evening of June 5, I hadn't heard back.
Maybe I should have told them I was McCain's old pal Don Imus. Then again, now that Imus is on podcast or wherever he disappeared to, maybe they blow him off as well. It could be that new deputy communications director Goldfarb isn't quite on speed in his new job yet, but that isn't likely. Moving from Kristol's Weekly Standard staff to McCain's propaganda staff couldn't be much of a transition.
You'd think that a presidential campaign based on inspiring fear and hatred through a rhetorical logic that evokes an M.C. Escher print and that features a pliant buffoon at the top of the ticket with a supporting cast straight out of Springtime for Hitler wouldn't stand a chance.
But it worked the last two times.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) is on sale now.