Mighty war hero John McCain has a troublesome perceptual problem. He sees things as being bigger than they really are.
When he was flying fighter-bombers over North Vietnam, he, like many in the military, imagined that he was fighting against a mighty foe (world communism, I suppose). What he was really doing was dropping bombs on a peasant country that was essentially still in the 19th or even, in much of the countryside, the 18th Century. It was also only a sixth of the size of the US. But John McCain bravely battled against this pipsqueak enemy, dropping his bombs until some of those peasant soldiers shot him down and captured him.
Now Big John is looking at Iran and seeing a dangerous, implacable enemy of America. In fact, he says this enemy is as big a danger as was the mighty Soviet Union of the 1970s or 1980s! Watch out America! Iran is coming! Like the Soviet Union before it, which had America living in daily terror of nuclear annihilation for decades, and which had our poor country fighting proxy wars around the globe as we tried to contain the spread of a dreaded Communist ideology that threatened to destroy our great capitalist society, McCain says Iran poses a mortal threat to the survival of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Look out America! Iran is going to turn us all into Moslems! Ah-h-h-h!
But wait a minute. During the Cold War, before it collapsed in a heap of rubble, the Soviet Union was a country of nearly 250 million people. Its mighty Red Army had defeated the German Wehrmacht in World War II. The USSR had tens of thousands of nuclear bombs and it had missiles bigger than ours, capable of lobbing 20-megaton bombs on American cities. It held half a dozen European nations of ancient lineage captive, and financed dreaded revolutionary forces around the globe. It had a nuclear submarine fleet that was better than ours, and that was equipped with sea-launched missiles that could be fired at US targets from locations only minutes from our coastline.
Iran, in contrast, is a poor country of 70 million. It has no nuclear weapons. It has no missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, much less of carrying them halfway around the world to US targets. It hasn’t conquered or even attacked another country in centuries, and seems to show little interest in doing so (it couldn’t even defeat Iraq, a country less than half its size, which attacked it in the 1980s). Its navy consists of little boats more suitable to towing water skiers than to fighting American carrier battle groups. Its air force wouldn’t last a day in a contest with the planes from just one US carrier. Hell, Iran’s leadership is afraid of its own women!
But Big John is afraid, and he says we all should be too.
He says Barack Obama is naïve for proposing that the next president negotiate with the leaders of Iran, saying that Iran is as dangerous as the Soviet Union.
Forget for a moment that America did negotiate with the Soviet Union, not once, but many times—let’s see, by my count every president from Roosevelt to Reagan negotiated with the Soviets. But John McCain, our brave war hero who wants to be president, says Iran is too scary and dangerous. We dare not negotiate with them.
Maybe the guy should be wearing glasses. He’s sure not seeing things accurately.
Big John needs some little warning stickers that he can put on things to remind him of reality. They could say: “Caution! Things you are looking at may be smaller than they appear!”
This disability of McCain’s could at least explain how he has managed to stay so trim at the ripe age of 71 when most of his doddering Senate colleagues are sporting paunches. He probably looks at a plate with a little a tiny burger on it, and thinks he’s been served a Quarterpounder.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now in paperback). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net