McCain Attacks Obama's Support For Israeli Peace Negotiations
Posted by Max Bergmann
So the McCain campaign is attacking an Obama adviser, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, for going to an American Bar Association conference in Damascus and calling on the Syrians to make peace with Israel. I guess to the McCain campaign, anyone that calls for peace through negotiations instead of "peace" through war is asking to be attacked. But this seems like a really dumb thing to do for two reasons.
1. If McCain is attacking Kurtzer (and therefore the Obama campaign) for being an appeaser, doesn't that mean that McCain also thinks that the Israelis are Chamberlin-like appeasers? The Israeli government is after all engaged in very public negotiations with Syria. In fact the Israeli military is one of the chief advocates of trying to negotiate a deal with Syria. Additionally, Assad recently had a very public meeting with Olmert and Sarkozy at the Mediterranean Conference where Olmert expressed hope that negotiations would develop. Does McCain oppose these efforts to negotiate peace? And if so doesn't that once again put McCain squarely in line with the Bush administration.
2. McCain himself once upon a time advocated talking to Syria. McCain is forgetting what he said about Colin Powell's trip to Damascus five years ago. On the Today Show on April 18th 2003 McCain said that despite Syria being a state sponsor of terrorism, he was glad Powell was going there.
LAUER: Let me ask you about Syria.
Mr. McCAIN: Sure.
LAUER: They have denied possessing weapons of mass destruction, they've also denied harboring any senior members of the Iraqi leader. The US administration says they have evidence to the contrary. How would you proceed with that situation?
Mr. McCAIN: I think it's very appropriate that Colin Powell is going to Syria. I think we should put diplomatic and other pressures on them. It's also a time for Mr. Asad Bashar to realize that he should be more like his father was. I think he's too heavily influenced by a lot of the radical Islamic elements and--and militant groups.
LAUER: Do you think Syria meets the criteria set forth by the president in his post-9/11 address to Congress that they pose an imminent threat to the US in that they are either sponsoring or harboring terrorists?
Mr. McCAIN: I think they're--they're sponsoring and harboring terrorists. I think they have been occupying Lebanon, which should be free and independent for a long time, but I don't think that that means that we will now resort to the military action. We--we can apply a lot of pressure other than military--than the military action. So what I'm saying, we're a long way away from it.
LAUER: Under what circumstances--under what circumstances would you back military action?
Mr. McCAIN: When we've exhausted all other options. And we have a lot of options to--to exercise. And I'm glad Colin Powell's going there, but the Syrians have got to understand there's a new day in the Middle East.
Update: this post has been slightly updated