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.)