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John McCain: Statesman, Maverick or Demagogue?

By Bob Petrusak


Senator John McCain's recent rock music parody which suggested that the United States "bomb Iran" would have been less offensive had it come from a speaker with no experience of war or violent death.  McCain however, is a veteran pilot who flew bombing missions against  North Vietnam. McCain's  aircraft was shot down during one such mission and McCain himself  was rescued from a possible drowning by a North Vietnamese citizen.  McCain then spent several years in tortuous imprisonment.  Since entering  public life,  he has portrayed himself not only as a patriot, but as a wise statesman and political maverick  capable of drawing on his war experience to resist  popular hysteria particularly on the issue of torture.  


However, the "bomb Iran" line suggests that the wise statesman and political maverick are masks for a reckless demagogue particularly when we place that remark in context.  A member of an apparently friendly audience had prefaced questions to McCain by stating that it is "well documented" where the "real problem is in the Middle East" and that President Bush adequately described it as "the axis of evil." He then asked  McCain "How many times do we have to prove that these people are blowing up people now, never mind if they get a nuclear weapon?" and "When do we send them an airmail  message to Tehran?"


A wise statesman might  have told the audience that the problems of the Middle East are complex and that we must question "well documented" claims suggesting simple solutions.  A true political maverick might have pointed out how quite recently, it had been  "well documented" that the "real problem" in the Middle East was Saddam Hussein and that "regime change" in Baghdad would bring not only utopia on the Tigris but an "arc of democracy" throughout the region.


 A true political maverick might have related that the "real problem" behind September 11th  had nothing to do with Iran and everything to do with a Saudi society that had been producing hateful, anti-western extremists for decades.  A wise statesman would have informed his audience that Iran had supported American efforts to root such extremists out of Afghanistan through the overthrow of their  Taliban allies.  He might have also pointed out that  Iran had been quietly struggling against this Taliban--al-Qaeda axis since 1998 when the latter had murdered several Iranian diplomats.


A wise statesman would have admitted that all people will act when they believe their neighborhood is threatened by outsiders especially when those outsiders have threatened them and betrayed their trust. He would have related how Iran's secular, elected government trusted American leadership in the early 1950's only to be overthrown by an American-organized coup that brought a quarter-century of American-supported repression.  He could have rightly condemned the Iranian seizure of our embassy in 1979 but pointed out that Iran has been "paid back" many times over through American support of Saddam Hussein's war on Iran. 


A true political maverick  might have mentioned that Iran's reward for helping to overthrow the Taliban was placement on the "axis of evil." Then, he might  have pointed out that Iranian support for Shiite militias in Iraq is, in Iranian eyes, no different from American support for the Cuban rebels who wanted independence from Spain.  He also might have told his audience that if there is a  present danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of extremists it is not in Iran but in Pakistan where a shaky dictator was made even shakier by the killing of innocent Pakistanis in an American airstrike.


Both the wise statesman and the political maverick might have reminded the audience that bombing campaigns are not "airmail messages" because bombing campaigns kill the people beneath the bomb-sights.  Bombing campaigns also invite immediate self-defense and subsequent reprisals.  Bombing campaigns  thereby cause the death, dismemberment and imprisonment of those who must carry them out on the orders of  politicians who thrive on ignorance. 


About the author: The author is a retired appellate and trial prosecutor who also served as a police administrator and counsel for a state prison system.  He is now a graduate student focusing on the history of American foreign policy.



Related Article:


John McCain For War: A deadly "joke" - Saadi, a 13th century Iranian poet, cares about mankind and acts as a global thinker when he talks about oneness of mankind. On the other hand, McCain, a 21st century American politician who wants to spray the world with freedom and democracy, sings: "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb" Iran. -Ali Moayedian 4/20/07


... Payvand News - 4/24/07 ... --

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