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Posted by on Jun 17, 2009 in At TMV | 12 comments

Quote of the Day: Joe Klein on John McCain on Iran

From Swampland:

For two years now, John McCain has been entirely consistent on Iran: every last statement he’s made–at least, those that I’ve seen — has been (a) fabulously uninformed and (b) dangerously bellicose. He’s still at it, apparently. There is no question that President Obama’s more prudent path is the correct one right now. There is also no question that the neoconservatives are trying to gin up this situation into an excuse for not engaging with the Iranian government in the near future — and also as a rationale for their dearest, looniest dream, war with Iran.


The point is, neoconservatives like McCain and [Peter] Wehner just can’t seem to quit their dangerous habit of making broad, extreme statements based on ideology rather than detailed knowledge of the situation in Iran and elsewhere. This was always the main problem with McCain’s candidacy — he would have been a trigger-happy President, just as Wehner’s old boss, George W. Bush, was. We are well out of that.

Yes, just imagine Faux Maverick McCain in the White House now, the neocons’ president, full of his typical bluster and aggression, vindictively leading the country into a disastrous military confrontation with Iran with Bush-like abandon. He doesn’t even seem to comprehend what’s actually going on in Iran, so simplistic is his worldview (there are good guys and bad guys and not much in between), let alone have any sense of what to do about it beyond predictable Cheney-like warmongering (the good guys should bomb the bad guys).

Part of me wishes that Obama would offer a stronger condemnation of Iran’s sham of a democracy, and there is indeed something to be said for taking a somewhat harder line with respect to engagement (Slate‘s Fred Kaplan argues that Obama should take this opportunity to “tighten the screws”), but, overall, Obama’s cautious response to the Iranian election and its aftermath is, I think, the right one: There is only so much we know, only so much he can do, and only so much the U.S. should assert itself in a country that is heavily nationalistic and in a region that remains rather hostile to further U.S. intervention of any kind.

Unlike McCain, Obama actually gets it.

During the campaign, the McCain/Republican line was that Obama just wasn’t up to the job of being president — he was too naive, too inexperienced, and, on the whole, unprepared. It was McCain, supposedly, who was more than ready to step right in and do what had to be done. That was all a big joke, of course, and McCain continues to show that, in terms of his leadership on foreign policy and national security, he is little more than the right-wing platitudes he spews, offering nothing other than more of the same, the failed policies of the past, including on Iran.

In contrast, Obama continues to show that he is just what America needs, and what the world needs, at another moment of crisis.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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  • shannonlee

    McCain isn’t a neocon. This opinion starts out from a completely slanted point of view and spirals downward at a furious rate. The election is over. Obama won.

    And you should really stick with the liberal platform. Rush and Cheney are the Rep party. You are supposed to be linking those two to Reps…not McCain. You don’t want to put moderates like McCain out front, it is bad for the 2010 elections.

  • jwest

    Joe Klein and his followers never disappoint in their insufferable weakness. The last time I heard someone so shallow and naïve, Madeline Albright was explaining her deal with the North Koreans that assured us they were abandoning their nuclear weapons program. Stupid, scared and submissive is no way to go through life, at least in the United States.

  • mikeyes

    Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb bomb Iran!

    Kinda catchy, isn’t it? I wonder who said that?

    • Leonidas

      “Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb bomb Iran!

      Kinda catchy, isn’t it? I wonder who said that?”

      –Unknown Isreali flight commander in 5 years striking Iranian missile silos.

  • Obama’s handling this just right. Anything we do to embrace the opposition plays into Khamenei’s hands by allowing him to play the Great Satan card.

    I know this is hard for a lot of Americans but: This Isn’t About Us.

  • Leonidas

    I’m a McCain supporter, but I think Obama had the better approach on this one. I think McCain missed on this one, although I think he has been better overall about relations with Iran than Obama has.. As for Joe Klein I still think he is an idiot.

  • DdW

    There has to be something we can do, something in between bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran and doing absolutely nothing.

    I think Obama has found that “something in between.” We’ll see. There is always time to bomb, bomb, but once those boms start to fall they cannot not be recalled. The consequences, not nice ones, are sure to quickly and devastatingly follow.

  • shannonlee

    From the AP:
    “Iran has accused the United States of “intolerable” meddling in its internal affairs, alleging for the first time that Washington has fueled a bitter post-election dispute.”

    Hmm…Looks like we could have just went with the McCain response after all.

    My point here is…McCain is right on this. Obama is being too passive and still being called out by Iran. We come off weak, yet we are still labeled as meddlers.

  • I agree with Obama’s approach. Harsh words are worthless. It is the Iranian response that is foolish; as foolish as McCain’s approach would be. Iran’s leaders still don’t get it. Their populace will get the facts by Twitter or web, but they will get Obama’s words, assess their leaders’ statements and side with Obama. That is the best we can hope for. Driving the Iranian public to side with their wacky leaders is exactly what we DON’T want, and what shannonlee’s approach would do. Think about it for a minute. A young Iranian, hearing the “Great Satan” jive from the official media, checks in with a translation of what America actually said:

    1) they said, this is for Iranians to work out, but we support democracy and Iranians are entitled to free and fair elections. Reaction: “he’s right. Those aren’t the words of an enemy of Iranians.”

    2) they said, we denounce Iran and its sham government and by the way, bomb Iran. Their nationalism is incited and they say, “this is the enemy of Iran. Let’s support our president against these aggressive crusaders.”

    And oh yeah, didn’t we just try 8 years of “fighting words”? The right wingers here are just like the coach who calls the same losing play over and over, expecting different results. The predictable result? Failure.

  • Leonidas

    I think Obama was right myself, and I’m a big McCain supporter. However the difference between being right and wrong on this aren’t so big, the only difference is that the Iranian government doesn’t have some juicy video clips and soundbites it can use in its propaganda efforts. The net result of the difference is minimal, but it is in favor of the Obama approach.

  • As an Iranian-American, I would love president Obama to take people’s side and condemn Ahmadinejad’s defrauded victory. But then, I realize it could worsen the situation for Iranian people. However I hope he will never start a dialogue with Ahmadinejad.

  • endume

    McCain just care about his political career. It is unproductive and against Iranian people if USA gets “tough”. Dictatorial regimes historically have used USA policies as a escape goat and a effective tool to infuse nationalism . If USA gets involved in the conflict, it will weaken Iranians fight for democracy. Doesn’t McCain know anything about history? I could give him few examples Cuba, Venezuela, McCain comments are reckless If McCain doesn’t know about the consequences of his words for those Iranian people demonstrating on the streets that is even worse , that is called ignorance .

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