McCain Missteps on Iraq; Democrats Pounce
JERUSALEM — Senator John McCain’s trip overseas was supposed to highlight his foreign policy acumen, and his supporters hoped that it would showcase him in a series of statesmanlike meetings with world leaders throughout the Middle East and Europe while the Democratic candidates continued to squabble back home.Josh Marshall was quick to jump all over both John McCain and Hillary Clinton.
But all did not go according to plan on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, when Mr. McCain, fresh from a visit to Iraq, misidentified some of the main players in the Iraq war.
Mr. McCain said several times in his visit to Jordan — in a news conference and in a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.
Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”
It was not until he got a quiet word of correction in his ear from Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who was traveling with Mr. McCain as part of a Congressional delegation on a nearly weeklong trip, that Mr. McCain corrected himself.
“I’m sorry,” Mr. McCain said, “the Iranians are training extremists, not Al Qaeda.”
Mr. McCain has based his campaign in large part on his assertion that he is the candidate best prepared to deal with Iraq, and the Democrats wasted little time in jumping on his misstatement to question his knowledge and judgment.
But this is really just the tip of the iceberg with McCain. In almost every discussion of foreign policy, not just today but in previous years, what stands out is McCain's inability to see beyond the immediate issues of military tactics to any firm grasp of strategy or America's real vital interests. His free willingness to commit to a decades long occupation of Iraq is an example, his push for ground troops to be introduced during the Kosovo War is another. His refusal, almost inability, to grapple with the political failure of the surge is the most telling one if people will sift through its deeper implications.The fact is John McCain is clueless when it comes to foreign policy and when that is combined with his attitude that there is no such thing as a bad war he is indeed the last and most dangerous person you would want in the White House. I would assume that the Democrats already have a commercial with him singing bomb bomb bomb Iran . Maybe it's not old age and he has always been bat shit crazy but old age doesn't help.
Hillary Clinton has stipulated to McCain's qualifications as Commander-in-Chief; and Obama, implicitly, does the same. But his record actually shows he's one of the most dangerous people we could have in the Oval Office in coming years -- not just because he's a hothead in using the military, but more because he seems genuinely clueless about the real challenges and dangers the country is facing. He's too busy living in the fantasy world where our future as a great power and our very safety are all bound up in Iraq.