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September 27, 2008

The McCain-Kissinger Flip Flop
Posted by Max Bergmann

Did McCain just change his position on Iran?

John McCain and Barack Obama got into an argument tonight over Henry Kissinger's position on  Iran. During the debate McCain said Obama's position was not the same as Kissinger's. McCain said that Kissinger “said that there could be secretary-level and lower level meetings. I've always encouraged them.” This is a correct characterization of Kissinger's position. And you could say that this represents a slight difference between Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger. But McCain saying that "he has always" encouraged talks with Iran just isn't true. McCain has never supported talks with Iran at the Secretary of State level.  So either McCain has massively shifted positions on Iran or he is completely misrepresenting his position on Iran.

This is McCain's position:

And the belief that somehow communications and positions and willingness to sit down and have serious negotiations need to be done in a face to face fashion as Senator Obama wants to do, which then enhances the prestige of a nation that's a sponsor of terrorists and is directly responsible for the deaths of brave young Americans, I think is an unacceptable position...


"Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we -- we know we're dealing with authentic..." Sesno: "Put at a very high level right out of the box?" Kissinger: "Initially, yes. And I always believed that the best way to begin a negotiation is to tell the other side exactly what you have in mind and what you are -- what the outcome is that you're trying to achieve so that they have something that they can react to. Now, the permanent members of the Security Council, plus Japan and Germany, have all said nuclear weapons in Iran are unacceptable. They've never explained what they mean by this. So if we go into a negotiation, we ought to have a clear understanding of what is it we're trying to prevent. What is it going to do if we can't achieve what we're talking about? But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations. We ought, however, to be very clear about the content of negotiations and work it out with other countries and with our own government." (CNN's "Live Event," 9/20/08)

The fact is that McCain has never said he was willing to talk to Iran at the Secretary of State level. His statement tonight either represents a massive policy shift or represents a massive misrepresentation of McCain's position.


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OK. This post is correct.

The whole "propaganda" advantage that McCain (and Hilary Clinton) referred to strikes me as bizarre. If the Iranian (or Syrian or North Korean) public dislikes the US, their leaders face a domestic propaganda loss if they meet with the US president. The propaganda advantage is all to the US -- we met with them without conditions, so if they resist NPT compliance then they lose standing and the US demonstrated its best effort.

I see Kissinger is very unhappy tonight that Obama mis stated his position on negotiation with Iran. Right from the horses mouth. Not a smart thing to say about a national icon. And I'll bet we hear from him on TV over the next week. Obama didn't know what he was talking about.

I disagree with you. The debate was regarding Obama's and Kissinger's respective points of view. John McCain made clear there would be nothing to talk to the leaders of states he has deemed, well, whatever.

He went as far as to ridicule Obama, mocking a meeting in which the president of Iran would express his ambition to 'wipe Israel off of the map.'

From the statement you have above from Kissinger, it is clear that his position is closer to Obama's than that of McCain.

Kissinger defends McCain's statement during the debate. There is no need to analyze nuances from past statements. Kissinger now clearly states that McCain is right.

Kissinger said "would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level."

"Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality," Kissinger said in statement issued by the McCain campaign.

"Kissinger said in statement issued by the McCain campaign."

That kind of says it all, don'tcha think?

If McCain is serious about not negotiating with nations that are sponsors of terrorism and responsible for the deaths of young Americans, then it follows logically that he will have to refuse to meet with (among many others) the Saudis and the Pakistanis, as well as the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, himself.

The Saudis are the largest funders of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in the world. For example, they are the largest funders of Hamas, giving many times the amount the administration claims Iran gives to Hamas. And Hamas has killed Americans as well as Israelis. So, Bush's closest ally in the Middle East is out of McCain's picture.

In addition, consider this. In 1983, Nouri al-Maliki had moved to sanctuary in Damascus Syria after staying for years in Tehran, Iran under the protection of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini (who actually made the statement about Israel that Ahmadinejad was quoting 17 years later). al-Maliki was one of the leaders of a fundamentalist terrorist organization known as Islamiah al-Da'awa (Call to Islam), the same name that it still uses as the ruling party in the Iraqi government that McCain wants to continue to sacrifice American lives and treasure to support. McCain has met personally with al-Maliki and supports him, as does Bush.

Now, here's the kicker. In 1983, while living in Damascus, al-Maliki was the man in charge of directing Dawa's guerilla activists fighting against Saddam from outside of Iraq. Recall that, in 1983, Saddam was an American ally and was actively being courted, supported, and armed by the Reagan administration, so Maliki and Dawa considered America as an ally of their enemy, Saddam, and therefore an enemy of their own pro-Iranian group.

On December 12, 1983, anti-Saddam Shi'ite terrorists committed a number of car bombings in Kuwait. Prominent among the targets was the United States Embassy in Kuwait City, where five embassy employees were killed. Also targeted were the French embassy, the main oil refinery, the water desalinization plant, the Shuaiba Petro-chemical plant, the Kuwait International Airport, the Electricity Control Center and living quarters of American employees of the Raytheon corporation.

Shortly after the bombings, members of Maliki's Dawa party called Kuwaiti authorities to take "credit" for the attacks. Dawa involvement was confirmed when the remains of a human thumb of one of the suicide bombers was identified as an Iraqi Shi'ite member of Dawa. Subsequently, 21 guerillas (at least 15 were members of Maliki's guerilla activist group and the rest were Lebanese Hezbollah allies of Dawa), were put on trial (17 who had been rounded up and 4 in absentia). After a trial, 6 were condemned to death, seven to life imprisonment, and seven to prison terms of between five and fifteen years. All were held for several years and then were freed and sent to Iran during the Gulf War.

During the years they were being held, other Dawa and Hezbollah terrorists hijacked a Kuwait Airways flight and used the passengers as hostages to demand the release of the "Dawa 17," as they were known. Two Americans, Charles Hegna and William Stanford were murdered and their bodies were dumped on the tarmac. Other Americans on the plane were brutally tortured, but the Emir of Kuwait refused to release Maliki's thugs and murderers.

On June 14, 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked on its way from Athens to Rome. Again, the terrorists were demanding the release of the Dawa 17. Again, they killed an American, U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. Again, Kuwait refused their demands to release the Dawa 17.

In addition, during the 1980s, a number of the Americans who were kidnapped in Beirut were also held hostage to demands that the Dawa 17 be freed.

One of the original convicted Dawa terrorists who was sentenced to death by the Kuwaitis was Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, who is currently a member of the Iraqi Parliament and a member of Nouri al-Maliki's ruling party. No doubt McCain has sat down to dinner with him more than once during the visits to Iraq he brags about.

Now, lets return to where we began this little historical narrative and sum it up. During the 1980s, when Saddam was an American ally, members of the current government of Iraq were allies of Iran in its war with Iraq and were sworn enemies of the United States. Among them was the current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, his Dawa party, and the other major element of the current Iraqi government, SCIRI (the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq), now known as SIIC (Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council) and its Badr Militia (now the backbone of the Iraqi army and security forces). SCIRI was actually founded in 1983 in Tehran when Ayatollah Khomeini personally recruited Iraqi Shi'ite refugees to help him in his fight against Iraq and America.

So, the current government in Iraq have a long history of collaboration with Iran, and a close working relationship with Lebanese Hezbollah, who have murdered hundreds of Americans, including the car bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut,the US Embassy in Beirut, and the US Embassy Annex in Beirut.

These terrorists (including Prime Minister Maliki and his chief supporter, SIIC leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim along with Hezbollah and other Shi'ite groups) were all armed, supported, trained, and directed by Iran for two decades, and all committed terrorist attacks against Americans, among others.

Even today, as the Americans arm and train the Iraqi military and security forces, bloated with thousands of pro-Iranian Badr Militia members, many of the Iraqi security forces are quietly going to Iran for additional training and then returning to Iraq to fight alongside their American "allies."

The fact that anti-American terrorist groups with American blood on their hands now have almost full control of Iraq under the protective umbrella of the American military is what John McCain believes is the "success" of the surge. He apparently believes that "victory" in Iraq will come when we can withdraw our troops with the pro-Iranian Shi'ites in total control. The Iranians must roll on the floor laughing whenever they listen to McCain speak on TV.

Seems to me that if McCain can talk to the Iranian clerics' Iraqi puppets Nouri al-Maliki, Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim in the Green Zone, he is just a hypocrite to refuse to talk to the cleric's other puppet, Mohammed Ahmadinejad across the border in Iran.

It is also amusing to note that McCain and Bush label Muqtada al-Sadr, who believes that an Islamic Iraq should be controlled by the "ummah" (the people as a whole) as an enemy, while McCain and Bush cozy up to Dawa and SIIC, which still support Khomeini's idea that Islamic Government must be controlled by the "ulema" or Islamic scholars, as is true today in Iran. An interesting note: the word "Talib" (plural "Taliban") translates as "scholar."

As long as McCain is willing to sacrifice American lives and treasure to support and protect the long-time anti-American and pro-Iranian terrorists now running the Iraqi government, one has to wonder if McCain has either the knowledge of the region or even the basic intelligence to be trusted with protecting America from terrorism.

Does the latest statement from Kissinger end this charade? Or will Democracy Arsenal continue parsing every tittle spoken by the brahmin over the past month to make him say something he won't?

A larger question I've had is why anyone should listen to Kissinger any more than any other foreign policy expert.

The other nettlesome issue is that Democracy Arsenal (the worst named blog in the world, roll FDR, roll) now wants to hold McCain accountable for what he hasn't previously said about Secretary of State negotiations with his/her peer in Iran.

Very well. Obama hasn't expressed any POV on how he would defend the United States from invasion by little green spacemen. Since he has not previously indicated his position on this issue, I hereby declare that he is either pro-Martian invasion or shall someday, by addressing the silly question, show that he's flip-flopping or otherwise amending his policies drastically.

I have no dog in this fight, caring neither about McCain's victory or Obama's, but this blog should try to be intellectually honest.

Also, it should change its name. If anything, over the past few years it has most certainly NOT lived up to the branding effort, and FDR deserves better.

File this under the heading, "Never Admit Error." For Obama more than for McCain.

In an early debate before the Democratic Presidential primaries, Sen. Obama did answer affirmatively to a question about whether he would be willing to me, without preconditions, with the Iranian President. It was not a smart answer, nor one he repeated once the primary season was well underway, but among Democratic primary voters disposed to view negatively any policy pursued by the Bush administration it didn't hurt him very much.

The audience is different now, and Obama is trying to align himself with the views of people like Henry Kissinger without disavowing his earlier statement or even acknowledging that he made it (and thus run the dreaded risk of being charged a "flip-flopper"). It's campaign convention to never admit error, and as a candidate Obama is very conventional in this respect. Personally, I think he means what he's saying about Iran now, and hadn't thought the subject through when he was talking about it a year ago. He doesn't feel he can say that, though, and that's why he hasn't been able to take full advantage of a circumstance that finds him in agreement with the most reputable authorities on the subject, and McCain isolated.

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