Republican presidential nominee John McCain pointed his finger at his Democratic rival Barack Obama for his “inexperience and reckless judgment” in advocating engagement with nations such as Iran.
This type of rhetoric during an elections season has been a stable of “get tough” campaigns, often directed in the past two decades or so at Iran. Ronald Reagan ran on a tough Iran platform against Carter, only to strike a major secret arms deal with the Islamic Republic when he became president, an affair that came to be known as Iran-Contra.
McCain’s argument that US presidents can only engage with friendly countries and must shy away from adversaries shows his lack of expertise and knowledge of international relations, notwithstanding his repeated claims to the contrary.
Iran became an influential player in the region thanks in part to the policies of the current administration. Our policies in Iraq and “disengaging” with Iran created a stronger Iran. McCain has been fully supportive of these policies.
Obama’s proposal for engaging the adversaries, while understanding and dealing with their real threats, is derived by common sense, and that’s why it is so powerful. Iran, North Korea, and other US adversaries each pose their own degree of threats to our national interests. They have to be dealt with in a rational manner proportionate to the degrees of threat they pose.
“Obliterating” Iran, as Hillary Clinton likes to say, or “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” as McCain likes to sing, have nothing to do with rational foreign policy, does not weaken the Islamic Republic and can and will produce its opposite effect.
The current White House has “engaged” Iran on Iraqi security (they have held three ambassadorial meetings in Baghdad dealing with security issues in Iraq). McCain and his straight talk express have yet to accuse President Bush of “reckless judgment.”