Fareed Zakaria Blasts John McCain's Foreign Policy Stances As Uninformed "Fantasy"

[media id=17267] (h/t Heather at VideoCafe) As disenchanted as we liberals can get over the Obama presidency and their apparent obliviousness to pr

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(h/t Heather at VideoCafe)

As disenchanted as we liberals can get over the Obama presidency and their apparent obliviousness to progressive priorities, we should all breathe a huge collective sigh of relief that we are not facing a future with President John McCain and Vice President Palin (if she managed to ride out this far into her term). Nevermind how much more poorly their response would necessarily be to be BP spill...can you imagine a third front (or actually, fourth, if you count the undeclared one in Pakistan) in the War on Terror™ in Iran?

Well, that's what we would have with President McCain. This week, he continued his ongoing campaign to attack Iran in the pursuit of a regime change with a speech at the National Endowment for Democracy:

My friends: I believe that when we consider the many threats and crimes of Iran’s government, we are led to one inescapable conclusion: It is the character of this Iranian regime – not just its behavior – that is the deeper threat to peace and freedom in our world, and in Iran. Furthermore, I believe that it will only be a change in the Iranian regime itself – a peaceful change, chosen by and led by the people of Iran – that could finally produce the changes we seek in Iran’s policies.

The only problem, as Fareed Zakaria points out, is that McCain doesn't understand the reality of Iran, just the neocon lies about the country. And his undermining of Obama's diplomatic efforts with such bellicose rhetoric is the exact opposite of helpful.

I imagine Senator McCain, like many others, sees the situation in Iran as analogous to Eastern Europe in 1989. Back then, we saw bad regimes crumble with what often looked like very little effort. But I don't think the analogy holds. Those dissenters 20 years ago had three things on their side in Eastern Europe -- nationalism, because communism was imposed by the Soviet Union; democracy; and religion, because communism forbade religion.

I would argue that the Green Revolution only has one of those three clearly on its side - democracy. The regime can use religion and nationalism just as easily as the protesters can.

McCain simply does not seem to understand the regime he wants to overthrow. [..] Look, the Iranian regime is very repressive at home and up to no good abroad. I do not like this regime at all. The U.S. State Department has called Iran the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, and that is an accurate description of the regime's activities in the region.

But I think much of Senator McCain's rhetoric plays into what is a kind of recurring American fantasy, that all good things always go together and all bad things go together, that men like Ahmadinejad are evil, also have no legitimacy, are also unpopular, and preside over a fragile regime about to collapse.

By the way, if we do want to try and help the Green Movement and we want to try and undermine this government, the most important policy choice we could make would be to not listen to Senator McCain's many suggestions that we should bomb the country.

Full transcripts below the fold

ZAKARIA: And now for our "What in the World" segment, what got my attention this week was a speech and an article by Senator John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA (voice-over): In case you were wondering how a McCain foreign policy would be different from President Obama's, here it is. John McCain would have helped overthrow the government of Iran last year.

MCCAIN: If the president were to unleash America's full moral power to support the Iranian people, if he were to make their quest for democracy the civil rights struggle of our time, it could bolster their will to endure in their struggle, and the result could be historic.

ZAKARIA: This has become a mantra among neoconservatives these days. If only Barack Obama had given a few more speeches that supported the Green Movement, the regime in Tehran would have collapsed. But this is foreign policy as fantasy. I see no evidence that the Iranian regime could have been toppled a year ago, nor have I seen any to suggest it can be toppled today or anytime soon.

The regime has many opponents, but also many, many supporters in the country. President Ahmadinejad had the support of millions of people before the election. A 2009 telephone poll of Iranians by two American think tanks found Ahmadinejad leading Mousavi by more than 2 to 1.

Now, any polling in Iran is suspect, but these results are confirmed by many shrewd observers of Iran. Once you get out of the cities, into rural areas, among the poor, the devout, Ahmadinejad continues to have a following, and he plays to the religious and nationalistic feelings of many Iranians.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, is also widely respected. Maziar Bahari, the "Newsweek" reporter who was jailed by the Iranian government for four months on trumped-up charges, says that Khomeini is certainly the most popular political figure in Iran.

I imagine Senator McCain, like many others, sees the situation in Iran as analogous to Eastern Europe in 1989.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Back then, we saw bad regimes crumble with what often looked like very little effort. But I don't think the analogy holds. Those dissenters 20 years ago had three things on their side in Eastern Europe -- nationalism, because communism was imposed by the Soviet Union; democracy; and religion, because communism forbade religion.

I would argue that the Green Revolution only has one of those three clearly on its side - democracy. The regime can use religion and nationalism just as easily as the protesters can.

McCain simply does not seem to understand the regime he wants to overthrow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCCAIN: Is it any wonder that this is the same regime that spends its people's precious resources not on roads or schools or hospitals or jobs that benefit all Iranians but on funding violent groups of foreign extremists who murder the innocent? ZAKARIA (voice-over): In fact, the Iranian government spends vast amounts of money on subsidies for the poor and lower middle classes, their base of support. Iran has high literacy, decent health care, and many social programs. The economy is a mess, but its defense budget is not staggering. It's about $8 billion. America's, by the way, is about $660 billion.

Look, the Iranian regime is very repressive at home and up to no good abroad. I do not like this regime at all. The U.S. State Department has called Iran the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, and that is an accurate description of the regime's activities in the region.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: But I think much of Senator McCain's rhetoric plays into what is a kind of recurring American fantasy, that all good things always go together and all bad things go together, that men like Ahmadinejad are evil, also have no legitimacy, are also unpopular, and preside over a fragile regime about to collapse.

By the way, if we do want to try and help the Green Movement and we want to try and undermine this government, the most important policy choice we could make would be to not listen to Senator McCain's many suggestions that we should bomb the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: That old Beach Boys song, "Bomb Iran", you know, bomb, bomb, bomb - anyway -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Now, John McCain was joking when he said that, but he has on many occasions seriously suggested that bombing Iran might be the only way to stop its nuclear program.

Now, if you want to find a sure way to have the country rally around the - the regime, if you want to destroy the Green Movement, if you want to give Ahmadinejad lots of international sympathy and support, what we should do is bomb Iran.

About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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