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MIDDLE EAST: McCain stumbles in Amman

Mccain2_3 Sen. John McCain has long presented himself as a seasoned statesman and foreign policy expert, someone with the wisdom and experience to guide the U.S. through troubled times.

That's why the media and his rivals pounced on him when he got a fundamental question regarding the violence in Iraq wrong.

McCain, standing before the Roman ruins in the Jordanian capital, said Iran was training and equipping Al Qaeda militants wreaking havoc in Iraq:

Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.

The U.S. military accuses Iran, a country of Shiite Persians, of supporting fellow Shiite groups in Iraq. Sunni Arab Al Qaeda fighters mostly come from U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, underscoring the complex overlays of violence and politics that bedevil an easy solution to the Iraq conflict. After Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman whispered in his ear, McCain corrected himself.

Tape, courtesy of CBS:

Of course Democrats jumped on the gaffe. Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, issued a press release:

After eight years of the Bush administration’s incompetence in Iraq, McCain’s comments don’t give the American people a reason to believe that he can be trusted to offer a clear way forward. Not only is Senator McCain wrong on Iraq once again, but he showed he either doesn’t understand the challenges facing Iraq and the region or is willing to ignore the facts on the ground.

Democrats also noted that McCain had made similar comments during an interview on a conservative talk radio program, “The Hugh Hewitt Show."

Iran is trying build influence and cultivate players in Iraq as part of a centuries-old Persian quest. Iran considers Iraq's south part of its cultural and religious sphere of influence.

Tehran  may even be equipping Iraqi surrogates with weapons to use against U.S. troops in a complicated geopolitical game of "managed chaos" to keep Washington on its toes and away from its nuclear program.

Bottom line, Iran is playing a long game of Risk, not a quick round of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.

Distinguishing between the various brands of Islamist thinking and politics in the Middle East is not just splitting hairs. Organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Mahdi Army in Iraq are political movements with deep roots in their societies while Al Qaeda operates more like a secretive criminal gang.

As Jamal Mroue, the publisher of Beirut's English-language Daily Star told me during a chat last year:

You can't lump together [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah and Osama bin Laden. You can fight them both as enemies, but they're not the same and they can't be fought in the same way.

Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: U.S. presidential hopeful Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks during a visit to the Amman Citadel, an ancient Roman landmark, March 18, 2008, in Amman, Jordan. Credit: Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (15)

Little back grounder check on ground realities of pre-Invasion of Iraq.
Iraq was under sanctions for a decade prior to 2003 invasion. Norther Iraq was almost no fly for Iraqi president Sadam,inhabited by Kurds was considered safe and area against Sadam.
Sadam was blamed for Kurd massacre, who had attempted to assassinate him, and those in Basara and Shia occupied areas where American instigated revolt was handled with strong measures,and he went on gallows for brutally suppering the tyrants. Sadam remained president of Iraq till he died as he was not removed from thrown, according to Iraqi constitution he remained President till he breathed his last.

Prior to attach on kuwait, Iraq was in a long fight with Iran.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and USA had extended financial and tactical help to Sadam to stay engaged in war with Iran.
In Post war scenario Iraq economy was in sambles,oil production and sales were heavily under targets.Sadam wanted to make Oil prices on little better rates as OIC had set. Kuwait was pumping at 40% higher capacity and was selling gas at low price than OIC rates.
Each barrel of Oil sold at $1.00 less was harming Iraq with a Billion in revenue.
Iraq objected bitterly with Kuwait,instead kuwait ridiculed and insisted on revovery of $15B war loan from Iraq.
Diplomatic dialog got tense and Kuwait threatened to reduce each Iraqi women to be a $10.00 prostitute.

Iraq gas reservoirs are considerable higher than,Kuwaits wells, extra pumping out at kuwait was basically stealing Iraq reserves.
Sadam claimed adjustment in extracted oil money with Kuwait,which resulted in stalemate. Saudis and Americans took sides with Kuwaits Sabah family.
US diplomatic communique at the times of Iraq Kuwait conflict came is thet, USA is not involved in the economic dispute between the two countries.
Sadam over read in ti it,and started preparation on capturing the oil wells in Kuwait which were being used to drain Iraqs share in the subterranean gas reserves.
Kuwait and Saud's asked US intervention for libration of Kuwait fields.
Kuwait was by than was under control of Ex-Kuwait military person.
US forces went in to Kuwait and pushed Sadam forces out of Kuwait,and retreating convoys of sadam were aerial bombed by US forces,like sitting ducks on roads.
Iraq sufferred heavy loss in terms of forces man power and war equipment.
Kuwait withdrawal of Sadam was followed by economic sanctions and no fly zones for Iraq,which lasted for almost a decade,and it devastated Iraqi people in to poverty, almost to the threat of Kuwait to reduce each woman in Iraq to be $10.00 prostitute.

Iraq had no stock piles of WMDs,yet there might have been a hollow political threat from Sadam to keep neighboring countries from taking aggression on to his country,especially from Iran.

Sadam had never threated Israel or any western country,and had no means,resources or interest to carry out terrorist acts against westerners or in western countries.
Than came 911, Iraq had nothing to do with it. Yet its vulnarable situation made it ideal step for lauch of NWO or WTO agenda. Tony Blair set up stage on lies of WMD to lure in to green dreams of $20.00/barrel gas for America and GWB went in with invasion of Iraq in march 2003.
Iraq invasion was on preheats of its neighboring countries and was instigated on lies of Tony Blair.

Iraqis were not that divided as a nation,there might have been internal bickering between Shia and Sunni Arab s about the development or government jobs,as such issues were easy to debate and settled while Sadam had been in place.

US invasion has brought in dead of over 1.3 Million dead and over 6 Million internal and external displaced Iraqis.
5 Years down the road,Iraq is pushed farther in to disintegration on ethical, sectarian lines.

Khilafa or head of state selection under moslem traditions is historicaly and religiously a dispute from the early days of moslem history.

Karbala and the resting place of Imam Hussain in Iraq is the reminder of sacrifices.

Hope he will be remembered well in history for over 4000 US uniformed people and over 1.3 Million Iraqis dead, un accounted injured civilians and VETs, $9.5 Trillion in debt,yet no end in sight.

While Americans are paying by Tax dollars for the team work of intelcenter. C om /
Ben Venzke is the founder and CEO of IntelCenter and
Aimee Ibrahim David, Principal, DFI International, and organizations like ww w. ypfp. Or g.

Iraqis are as vulnerable and ready to accept what is in fate for them, But as such Khalifa by default right Honorable George W Bush is master of their destiny.

It's not a "gaffe", any more than an auto mechanic looking in the trunk for the engine would be a gaffe, it''s fundamental ignorance and incompetence. McCain is simply a fraud, a truly empty suit.

I wouldn't hold him responsible for his confusion. I blame his mentor for the gaffe who should have insisted on memorizing utterances in advance. In fact I think the US taxpayer could be saved a huge financial burden if both the executive and legislature in DC were subcontracted to Israel and cut out the middlemen. Israel could appoint a viceroy to run the show without the farcical charade of independent sovreignty.

Wow! I am most impressed by the letters on this subject. My opinion of American intelligence has gone up considerably. As an Australian, I was disgusted at our recently dumped Prime Minister's slavish following of Bush's invasion of Iraq, which has made us, as a nation, just as responsible for the obscene shambles we have created in that unfortunate country. Saddam may not have been everybody's idea of a leader but it was none of our business. The Arab nations have a different way of doing things, and who were we to tell them that we would "free them"? What a bloody joke, and a the same time, a damn lie! It has taken us some time to get rid of the idiot who led us into that shambles, and hopefully, you guys will soon be rid of your resident idiot, but for God's sake! not another idiot like Hillary or McCain!
Might be an idea to make all candidates for the Presidency take an intelligence test. I know who my money would be on, but I don't want to be accused of trying to influence American voters! Good luck LA!
W Stuart McCann
Swifts Creek


9-11 comission stuff is from a different era (early 90's) and, if believed, merely shows that Iran would work with anyone against Saddam.

The Guardian article is stenography of unproven assertions from Bush administration officals. Why would they lie?

Didn't even bother with the rest.

It seems you are the one "looking for any little thing" and seem to have the same grasp of history and analytical powers of a John McCain.

Try again.

Actually, Iran training Al Qaeda HAS been widely reported in the news. He meant to say extremists, but his original statement was accurate too. Look at the 9-11 Commission Report, page 61 or The New York Sun 11/14/06, or USA Today 4/11/07, The Guardian 5/22/07, and on and on. Could someone please at least PRETEND they aren't just looking for any little thing to crucify McCain over?


With Hillary now condemned by the Kennedy Liberals to be burnt at the stake, McCain is the presidential candidate desperately supported by both panicked Podhoretz Neo-Conservatives and Leiberman Neo-Liberals. His shrewd puppeteer, that political dirty trickster Charlie Black, to compensate for McCain’s reputation being insanely subversive to both traditional Reagan Conservatism and Kennedy Liberalism, and for Obama’s reputation being honorable, shall depend on deceptive propaganda techniques, for a politically suicidal campaign that will predictably culminate with McCain getting a well earned date with a Democrat and Republican firing squad.

This foolish Marxist strategy is transparently intended to miraculously transform the image of Neo-Con McCain into an acceptable Conservative, while transforming the image of young Obama into an unacceptable radical black Liberal, by hook and by crook. McCain has notoriously opposed the Republican efforts to preserve lower taxes, supported child sacrifice by abortion, rebuked and ridiculed Christian sects, suppressed freedom of speech on the internet, supported illegal immigration of Mexican labor, support the loss of vital American technology and jobs to China, and supported the illegal sacrifice of the wealth and blood of the American People for the sole benefit of Israel; and he has accomplished nothing noteworthy in his long, contentious, and politically divisive public career. Obama has earned an honorable reputation and a promising political future, by his Harvard legal education and his hard honest work as Illinois Senator.

McCain’s insane disloyalty to his Christian God, his Constitution, his Republican Party, and his military forces will be drowned out by Charlie Black’s incessant propaganda portraying him as the most trustworthy and competent Conservative candidate. Endorsements by Judas ministers and turncoat Conservatives will be bought with campaign promises. Much of the freedom of speech on the internet will be suppressed by continuous complaints and threats. Simultaneously, incessant slanderous propaganda attacks will be launched against Obama’s name, religion, patriotism, and political philosophy. Anti-Semite, black-racist, and political-sleaze baiting attacks will be instigated by Black against vulnerable religious and political groups within Obama’s broad spectrum of supporters, and their vices will be deceptively associated with Obama, as in the recent cases of the real estate crook and the old black racist pastor. And political collusion among millions of Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs will be orchestrated through leading Neo-Con and Neo-Lib commentators in the news and entertainment media. Of course, all of this injustice and persecution of Obama will never be forgotten and will certainly be punished.


McCain’s strategy, based on the assumption that the majority of decent and trustful Americans are sufficiently gullible, is foolish because leading Liberals and Conservatives have long recognized that their real enemies in the American Cultural War are these Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs now entrenched in government, colleges, schools, and news and entertainment agencies. Their incessant subversion of traditional Christian culture and Constitutional government has been intensifying since the McCarthy Era, when politically defeated as Marxist refugees from Nazi Germany, they quickly evolved into two species of Neo-Marxists, the crypto-Marxist Neo-Liberal Democrats and Neo-Conservative Republicans, to resume their relentless ideological politically struggle to gain social and economic power over the America People.

Presently, it is in the vital interests of the Reagan Conservatives and Kennedy Liberals to fight side by side in this crucial election presidential battle of the Cultural War for the imminent defeat of Neo-Lib Hillary and Neo-Con McCain, the expulsion of the Neo-Libs and Neo-Cons from the Democrat and Republican parties, and the patriotic reformation of their endangered traditional Christian culture and Constitutional government.

There are two strategies by which these rather foolish Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs shall be defeated. The first is by a Holy Alliance, whereby both Reagan Conservatives and Kennedy Liberals vote for Obama. The second is by Liberals voting for Obama; and Conservatives voting for Ron Paul, Huckabee, and Romney as write-in candidates. The first strategy offers the additional benefit of quickly re-unifying Republicans and Democrats spiritually, under the shared love of their rich Christian culture and enlightened Constitutional government, against these insidious Neo-Con and Neo-Lib enemies who have so bitterly divided them over the years.

Google: Mearsheimer Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy; Stricherz Why the Democrats are Blue; Wall Street Journal McCain-Feingold Legislation; Ron Paul Human Events Interview; Who Would the World Elect.

While the Surge has created safety on the ground, the Iraqi government forshadows the true problem. It is the height of this administrations hubris that the USA can mediate a 4000 year old rift between Sunni and Shia. For Bush and Chaney, this war is a huge success. The price of oil has gone up 500%, Haliburton is making hundreds of millions of dollars and the gas companies are raking in billions in profit each QUARTER! However,while these companies are reaping their booty, this war is destroying our military and inflating our economy and that relates dirctly to America's security and our future well being. John McCain is prepared to extend this American travisty indefinitely. This misguided judgement can only further drain our resources and cripple our economy.

Dumb and dumber. McCain and Bush. Our country may nor survive another four years of such blatant stupidity.

In a nation of 300 million people, it is sad when the three who are running for the job of president are: Mr. Inexperience, Ms. Evil and Mr. Insane. You'd think we could do a whole lot better than that!

Why does the notion of Joe Lieberman whispering into McCain's ear make me think of Dick Cheney and his puppet?

The United States has not benefitted at all from the invasion of Iraq. All the evidence supports this. It has not prevented a single terrorist attack and it hasn’t led to any tangable reforms in the Arab world and only seems to have but Iran in a stronger position. In the southern shiite region of Iraq, women are being forced to wear veils under penalty of death by religious fanatics.
There was even some speculation that the invasion would lead to lower oil prices. It’s only gone up to astronomical heights.
There are many indications that the continuing occupation of Iraq has put this nation’s military close to the breaking point. And, worse yet, our military is much less prepared to deal with future threats.
This is not to say that some haven’t benefitted from the invasion. Defense contractors, such as Haliburton, KBR and Blackwater have all made out like bandits on no-bid government contracts with no accountability. Another benifituary has been the Mullahs of Iran who can now, with Saddam out of the way, influence the Shiite faction of Iraq. Also benefitting from our invasion is the Taliban and their Al Queda allies, which, due to our misplaced use of resources, now have a safe haven in Pakistan.

So, this what we’ve got for spending hundreds of billions of dollars and the lives of four thousand soldiers. So that America’s enemies get stronger, private contractors can bilk the taxpayers and the price of oil goes through the stratosphere. Mission Accomplished indeed!

Same,Same.Same.How many times can you say that? A vote for John McCain is a vote for the Bush Mess.

Does John McCain have a grasp of the most basic issues? The Shiite/Sunni distinction is pretty basic, and I would hope that anyone running for president would have a grasp of this distinction and many finer levels of distinctions as well. McCain fails the test miserably.

McCain shows himself to be a worthy successor to George W. Bush in advocating war against a society he does not understand. He wants to be commander in chief and doesn't understand something this fundamental about the forces that oppose us?

The Iraq war reminds me of the joke conservatives used to tell about Christopher Columbus running into America when he planned to go to the far east: "When he started out, he didn't know where he was going. When he got back, he didn't know where he had been. And he did it all on borrowed money."


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