Drumbeats of War?
McCain ignores facts and claims Tehran poses an unacceptable risk
by Aijaz Ahmad, The Real News
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
When presumptive Republican nominee John McCain took the podium yesterday on the first day of the national conference for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, his diction shadowed an all-too familiar rhetoric: "Tehran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons poses an unacceptable risk, a danger we cannot allow."
McCain went on to assert that Iran's "flouting of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty" could induce a Middle East nuclear arms race. The IAEA, on the other hand, acknowledges that Iran is acting strictly within the rights it has under the treaty, and calls upon Iran to provisionally suspend its enrichment program voluntarily, simply as a confidence building measure, says Real News Network Senior Analyst Aijaz Ahmad. This distortion of fact sounds a lot like the kind of spurious charges that were made against Iraq in the run-up to that invasion.
Instead of meeting with Iranian leadership, which McCain refers to as a "spectacle" that would only strengthen hardliners, he is steadfast in his support of economic sanctions on Iran, and declaring the Revolutionary Guard, which is currently the bulk of the country's defense forces, a terrorist organization. The Senator pointedly commented that this was a move supported by three quarters of the Senate, excluding potential Democratic running mate, Barack Obama.
Hear McCain's speech and how it's hinting to illegal actions similar to what America saw in 2003 from The Real News Network's Senior Analyst Aijaz Ahmad:
Report of McCain at AIPAC
American Israel Public Affairs Committee Annual Policy Conference begins, June 2, 2008. Speaking at the opening session, presidential candidate John McCain calls for serious sanctions against Iran. Senior News Analyst, Aijaz Ahmad provides context.
Bio of Senior News Analyst, Aijaz Ahmad
Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad is The Real News Network's Senior News Analyst; Senior Editorial Consultant, and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science, and has written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.
NEWS PRESENTER: Senator John McCain is about to go in front of a Jewish lobbying group and hit hard.
AIPAC CONFERENCE, MC: Join me in welcoming the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Senator John McCain.
AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: Well, it's very significant that Senator McCain, the presumptive presidential candidate for the Republicans, should be the star opening speaker at the national conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC. But there is also a larger regional and global context, which was spelled out in an article published last Friday by Joschka Fischer, who was the German foreign minister at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Fischer says that unless Iran agrees immediately to all the conditions that are being made of it on the nuclear fuel enrichment issue, it faces the possibility of an imminent military attack from Israel. Fischer then goes on to say that the attack is imminent because Israel can be sure of its window of opportunity only while Bush is still in office. McCain's own remarks need to be read in this context. And no wonder, after some opening remarks, he turns to the issue of Iran by saying foremost in all our minds is the threat from the regime in Tehran. McCain then proceeds with cavalier disregard for facts.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R): Tehran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons poses an unacceptable risk, a danger we cannot allow. Its flouting of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would render that agreement obsolete and could induce Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and others to join a nuclear arms race.
This charge of continued pursuit of nuclear weapons disregards the latest national strategy estimate [sic] of the United States itself, which categorically says that Iran has not pursued any kind of nuclear weapon program since at least 2003. McCain alone claims that Iran is violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], on the other hand, acknowledges that Iran is acting strictly within the rights it has under the treaty, and calls upon Iran to provisionally suspend its enrichment program voluntarily, simply as a confidence building measure. This distortion of fact sounds a lot like the kind of spurious charges that were made against Iraq in the run-up to that invasion. McCain then goes on to castigate Obama not to speak of Carter, Brzezinski, and others for suggesting that the US should perhaps talk to Iran.
MCCAIN: We hear talk of a meeting with the Iranian leadership offered up as if it were some sudden inspiration, a bold new idea that somehow nobody has ever thought of before. Such a spectacle would harm Iranian moderates and dissidents as the radicals and hardliners strengthen their position and suddenly acquire the appearance of respectability.
This is very strange. The impasse between Israel and Egypt was broken when President Sadat made a bold visit to Israel and directly addressed the Knesset, the same Sadat who had initiated the war of 1973. Impasse between China and the US was broken when Nixon and Kissinger showed up in Beijing. McCain's idea that official talks between leaders of the US and Iran would be a spectacle that would bestow sudden appearance of respectability on Irani leaders is simply fantastic. The whole world—heads of states in India, Russia, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, all the Gulf countries, even the president and prime minister of the occupation regime in Baghdad speak to Iranian leaders all of the time. The real crux of McCain's speech is that he proposes that the US pursue immediate policy of extreme sanctions against Iran, sanctions quite comparable to the ones that Iraq faced for a decade before the 2003 invasion. And it should do so, McCain says, through the Security Council if the Security Council is willing, and without the Security Council simply in concert with its European allies if it needs to. In short, according to McCain with respect to Iran, as for Bush with respect to Iraq, the US really does not require the Security Council and should just go ahead with a coalition of the willing with whoever wants to cooperate with US unilateralism.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.