FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Iran, Obama and McCain

As Iran roils with dissent following the apparent reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the world, or at least certain segments of it, apparently wait for U.S. President Barack Obama to condemn the election, criticize the lack of Iranian news coverage of the anti-election demonstrations, and generally behave as his predecessor did. Old habits die hard, but one must recall that Mr. Obama was elected on the mantra of change. Therefore, it should not be so difficult to see him handling the situation somewhat differently than President George Bush would have done.

Mr. Obama, as is his style, reflected thoughtfully on the situation. Commenting on the situation in Iran, he refrained from any outright criticism of that nation, its president or the election. Said he: “It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling.”

Leaving a nation to settle its own problems is certainly a change in U.S. policy. But it is one that Mr. Obama’s former opponent, Arizona Senator John McCain, could not tolerate. He minced no words: “He (Mr. Obama) should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election and that the Iranian people have been deprived of their rights.”

The senator must be granted some latitude; the memory is often not as sharp when one reaches his age as it may have been decades earlier. In 2000, the U.S. had ‘a corrupt, flawed sham of an election’ when Mr. Bush ran against then Vice-President Al Gore. For those who need reminding, it was Mr. Gore who received the majority of the votes, but somehow it was Mr. Bush who wound up in the White House for eight, long, deadly, disastrous years. It would not be too much of a stretch to say of the U.S. citizens, as Mr. McCain said of the Iranian people, that they ‘have been deprived of their rights.’

But one must not expect much from Mr. McCain; after all, this is the man who propelled Sarah Palin onto the world stage where she made a complete fool of herself and him. It is certainly giving her too much credit to say she cost Mr. McCain the election; he would certainly have lost it regardless of who he had selected as his running mate. But his judgment regarding what Mr. Obama should say or do about the Iranian election and its aftermath is probably every bit as sound as his judgment in selecting his running mate.

It seems that Mr. McCain clings to the ‘us vs. them’ mentality that initially worked so well for Mr. Bush, although one must suppose that he eventually came to regret it. Not that he ever did anything to change it, but with the legacy of disgrace, which is all he left, he might possibly wish he’d done a few things differently. Cutting loose the puppeteer-vice-president might have helped, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it is all too late now.

Mr. Obama continued his comments on Iran: “It’s important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi (Mr. Ahmadinejad’s major opponent), in terms of their actual policies, may not be as great as has been advertised. Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons.”

It is likely that Mr. McCain will continue to ramble on in his criticism of Mr. Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, echoing the sentiments of her boss, said this: “We are obviously waiting to see the outcome of the internal Iranian processes, but our intent is to pursue whatever opportunities might exist in the future with Iran.” This implies engagement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the war in Iraq and a possible host of other issues.

Six months before he faced Mr. Obama in the polling booths of the U.S., Mr. McCain had already begun singing this particular song. After Mr. Obama expressed willingness to meet with the Iranian president, the Arizona senator expressed shock and horror: “Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment. Those are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess.”

It was a tune not pleasant to the U.S. voter. They seemed to think that a candidate who wanted to prevent wars was probably a better bet than one who seemed content to continue two, and leave the door open for more. Mr. Obama, it appeared, would use diplomacy rather than belligerence; he would, as he later said, extend a hand a friendship to any nation that would unclench its fist. Mr. McCain, as a candidate and as a senator, seems to reflect the attitude of President James Polk who served from 1845 – 1849. It was said of him that he ‘held the niceties of diplomacy in contempt’. This contempt, along with the attitude of imperialism that Mr. McCain seems to share, was a major cause of the Mexican-American War. Mr. Bush’s disdain for diplomacy, supported and emulated by Mr. McCain, was a major cause of the Iraq War, which is now in its sixth year.

Yet Mr. McCain babbles on, perennially being elected due to his rather foggy war record, and his equally cloudy years as a prisoner of war. The good people of Arizona, blinded by his self-described heroics, keep electing him. And as long as the incumbent Mrs. McCain continues to pour money from her vast inheritance into his campaigns, he will probably continue to win.

The situation in Iran is probably dire for the Iranians. The repressive government is unlikely to perform a recount that will change the outcome, and violence against protestors will only increase. Yet Mr. Obama is wise in not becoming involved; as he stated during his recent European tour, he is president of the United States, not of the world. He must work with the world to prevent and solve shared problems, and a nuclear-armed Iran is worth working to prevent. He could use the tried and failed method of isolationism: not talking to those with whom the U.S. has serious differences, but that would result in what it always has in the past. But he is taking a higher road, meeting with those who, for a variety of reasons, many of them entirely legitimate, see the U.S. as the enemy, to be feared, loathed and certainly mistrusted. Mr. McCain would continue that disgraceful pattern; Mr. Obama wishes to break it.

We are told that the Republican Party is seeking to re-energize and revamp itself. For some, this means a moderating of its strident, right-wing, ‘my way or the highway’, self-righteous attitude. For others, it means consolidating its base by emphasizing its conservatism. This includes imperialism, a merging of far-right Christianity with government policies, maintaining the policies of Mr. Bush and the exclusion of all dissenting opinions. Mr. McCain seems to be a champion of this wing.

Should he and his cohort succeed in drowning the voices of moderation within the Grand Old Party (operative word: Old), it will take a huge effort by the Democrats to start losing elections (not that they are above running to the finish line only to fail to cross it). But for now, at least, the U.S. seems to have turned a corner, and is more than willing to try Mr. Obama’s approach. This is a good omen for the U.S. and the world.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
T.J. Coles
Jeremy Corbyn: Electoral “Chicken” or Political Mastermind?
Joseph Natoli
The Vox Populi
Sasan Fayazmanesh
The Pirates of Gibraltar
John Feffer
Hong Kong and the Future of China
David Rosen
The Likely End to Roe v. Wade?
Ishmael Reed
When You Mess With Creation Myths, the Knives Come Out
Michael Hudson
Break Up the Democratic Party?
Paul Tritschler
What If This is as Good as It Gets?
Jonah Raskin
Uncensored Tony Serra: Consummate Criminal Defense Lawyer
Ryan Gunderson
Here’s to the Last Philosophes, the Frankfurt School
Michael T. Klare
The Pompeo Doctrine: How to Seize the Arctic’s Resources, Now Accessible Due to Climate Change (Just Don’t Mention Those Words!)
Luke O'Neil
I Would Want To Drink Their Blood: God Will Punish Them
Louis Proyect
The Intellectual Development of Karl Marx
Tom Clifford
How China Sees the World
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson – Negin Owliaei
Who’s Burning the Amazon?
Yasin Khan
Rideshare Drivers are Employees, Not Contractors
Ralph Nader
Big Business Lies Taught a Watchful Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Sacking of John Bolton
Andrea Maki
Wild Love Preserve Founder: Our Path Forward
Jeremy Kuzmarov
The War in Eastern Ukraine May be Coming to an End But Do Any Americans Care?
Tim Davis – Stan Grier
Protect the Sacred Grizzly Bear, Follow Those Who Know Grandmother Earth
Clark T. Scott
Super-Delegated and Relegated
Jim Britell
Lessons From America’s Greatest Grassroots Campaigns 
Howie Hawkins
Workers Need More Rights and Economic Democracy
Ramzy Baroud
‘Justice is Indivisible’: Screams of Israa Ghrayeb Should Be Our Wake-up Call
Jill Richardson
It’s Not About Your Straws and Your Light Bulbs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail