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May 28, 2008

John McCain and the Iranian Hostage Crisis
Posted by Michael Cohen

If Ilan is upset about the coverage of John McCain's speech on nuclear non-proliferation then this little nugget might send him off the deep end. Usually, I don't post about events that happened two weeks ago (we like to be topical here at DA) but this quote from John McCain was so stunning - and so minimally covered -- that a few belated words are necessary.

The day of President Bush's "appeasement" address at the Israeli Knesset McCain was asked for a comment by the Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times. Here's what he had to say:

“Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain,'’

“I believe that it’s not an accident that our hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president of the United States. He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran, he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home.'’

This is jawdroppingly inaccurate. Allow me to count the ways.

1) While McCain is technically correct that the "hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president" this happened literally on the day of Reagan's inauguration. Reagan played no role whatsoever in ensuring the release of the Iranian embassy hostages. Indeed the only reason that the return of the hostages was pushed back until after the moment of Reagan's inauguration was to embarrass President Carter.

2) Reagan "didn't sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran." Well not really. Yes Reagan didn't literally sit down with them but he did send his national security adviser to meet with them and he did send the Iranian regime arms (remember that whole Iran-Contra deal). Indeed, in the nearly 30 years since the Iranian revolution no President has allowed for higher level talks between Iran and the United States than . . . Ronald Reagan.

3) McCain is seemingly oblivious to how and why the Iranian hostages were released - it wasn't through political posturing, or as he puts it, making clear to the Iranians "that these hostages were coming home" - it was through NEGOTIATIONS between President Carter, Algerian intermediaries and yes, the Iranian government.

It seems worth noting as well that during the Reagan Presidency a number of American hostages were taken by both Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas and Islamic Jihad in Beirut. Of the most prominent of these hostages, Terry Anderson, Terry Waite and Thomas Sutherland, none were released during Reagan's time in office and those hostages that were released received their freedom because of negotiations.

So not only does John McCain not understand the history of the Iranian hostage crisis, but he had drawn historically precisely the wrong conclusions from it.  I know that John McCain is a maverick and all, but increasingly on foreign affairs he appears to be a maverick from the truth. He doesn't know the difference between a Sunni and Shiite; he doesn't know that it's been US policy since 1980 to not have direct talks with Iran and now we see that he doesn't even understand what happened during the Iranian hostage crisis.


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Your ignorance should be blissfull but your anger and hate of republicans pours through. For your informatiom, Chamberlin was an appeaser, he incidental gave the country of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. What in the world does Iran Contra have to do with that, which happened years later? Poor you.

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