Thursday, June 05, 2008

McPandering to AIPAC

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.


  1. So, does this mean that we can quit pretending that "this war is not about oil?"

    This article was also pretty revealing.

    A whole new oil patch to keep the American circus going another decade or two. What a surprise.

  2. JP,

    I'm on board with Holt's assessment. Lots of denial pieces out now on the "secret deal," but one of the main deniers is Crocker, so...

  3. High Fives on this one Commander.

    The MSM obviously cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. While they have been covering "domestic politics" the obscenity of the Iraq war, rages on. It just hasn't merited much mention in "the MSM."

    Rockefeller's committee report - buried. (check.)
    Cockburn's article on permanent bases - buried. (check.)

    If a tree falls, in the forest.....

    If a war happens......

    Thanks again, for a great analysis.

  4. wkmaier8:36 AM


    I'm sure you aren't holding your breath waiting for a reply from Grampa Simpson's staff? :-)

    Forgot where I read it, might have been at Newshoggers, but that the US is selling the Saudis technology for nuclear power?

  5. Slightly off-topic, but read What Brian Eno said in Wired:

    Wired: You won a $500 Long Bet (in 2002) that by August 2005, a Democrat would not be president of the US. Would you be willing to go double or nothing that by August 2009 a Dem will be president of the US? Why or why not?

    Eno: I would bet the same again this time. I feel that the Rightists in America have almost complete media dominance — and are prepared to play as dirty as they need. They would be very happy with Clinton as the Democratic candidate because they know exactly how to slice her to pieces. A Clinton candidature means a Republican presidency, as far as I can see. Obama is more of a problem, because nobody hates him (as they do Clinton) and indeed a lot of people are genuinely inspired by him. So his candidacy will require the very dirtiest of dirty tricks, and I have no doubt they'll sink to the challenge.

    In 2002, I felt that it was important for the Republicans to win. Kerry did not strike me as a charismatic candidate, and I felt that whoever took the presidency next would get blamed for the complete cock-up that Bush and his team had started. If Kerry had won, he and the Democrats would now be getting the blame for the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and the collapse of your economy. This would have given the Republicans 25 years of dominance — as they would continue to point back at Iraq, etc. and say, "That's what the Democrats will do for you." So it seemed to me important that Bush take the can for all that, since it was directly the result of his policies. I imagined that the resulting disillusionment with Bush and the Bushmen would open the way for a new broom — I was at that time hoping it would be Hillary Clinton. I thought the change of a mood in the country would enable her to take a strongly liberal position and not have to apologize for it. She hasn't done that, because she dare not. She knows the knives are out for any sign on her part that she'll be "softer" than McCain — because she's trying to play him at his own game, instead of coming up with a different one.

    As it turns out, it's Obama who is playing the different game. I hope that he will be the democratic candidate. I would be thrilled if he became the president. However, I think he will be cut to ribbons by the most disgraceful campaign any of us will ever have witnessed. He has to be discredited, and he will be, somehow. And I worry that the American people will complain about it and then swallow it as they swallowed the fraudulent election of Bush. So, no, I wouldn't bet on a Democrat being president. I dearly wish that would be the case — either Obama or Clinton — but I'm sorry to say that I think America isn't quite there yet. It may require another four years of collapse and chaos under another Republican administration.

  6. Llyonnoc9:04 AM

    Good post. A couple of thoughts. I thought Iran was an oil exporter. If so, won't the embargo on its ability to import gas affect its desire to export oil. Or is it the intent of the Bush/McCain operatives to double the cost of gasoline?

    Also, I have an abiding belief that we will be bombing Iran in August or September. Bush really needs to have McCain put into office to prevent the investigations of his regime. War would rally the American people around him and McCain. We would not want to change commanders during war time.

    Finally, McCain's name is biblically significant. He is the son of Cain. Cain slew Abel. Only God knows how many people Cain's son will end up slaying.

  7. wkmaier10:22 AM

    Other Jeff,

    Thanks for posting that about Eno (one of my favorite musicians/producers/artists). How depressing. I'm going to read the whole interview and skip the last bit!

  8. Anonymous11:10 AM

    This is off point, but timely-
    I think it would be fitting to post a few lines about the huge number of Americans AND others who put their asses on the line on June 6th many years ago along and on the coast of France to preserve the freedoms this country used to cherish. Their numbers are shrinking at an awful rate and they deserve all the thanks we can offer. And the ones who are no longer with us deserve to be remembered.

  9. Thanks for the suggestion, Jeg. I'll do something on it later.


  10. Montag12:39 PM

    Did you see where Obama pulled Lieberman aside in the Senate and had the proverbial "quiet word" with him? Man that was great! That really tells you that Obama is the nominee now. I would have loved to have seen the look on Lieberman's face when Obama wouldn't let go of his hand and pulled him into the woodshed.

    I believe it was Thomas Mann who chided a colleague who joined the Nazis for opportunistic reasons: "No one can accuse you of changing your coat, you always wore it rightside out."

  11. Montag,

    No, I'll have to look for something on the incident. Good TM quote. Garrison Keillor mentioned him this morning on Writer's Almanac. It's Mann's birthday, isn't it? I can't recall just now.


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