John McCain appears not to understand the most basic issues in the Middle East. Writing in the Washington Posts campaign blog, The Trail, Cameron W. Barr and Michael D. Shear report:
Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.”
Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was “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.” A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear. McCain then said: “I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.”
Hillary Clinton believes that she and McCain have passed the commander-in-chief threshold with their knowledge of foreign policy. McCain has been happy to embrace Clinton on this one
In recent days, McCain has repeatedly said his intimate knowledge of foreign policy make him the best equipped to answer a phone ringing in the White House late at night.
McCain had to rely on Joe Lieberman to explain to most basic facts on the ground. Does McCain really think that Iran is training al Qaeda? Has he simply internalised that Bush-Cheney lie that of insurgent = terrorist = al Qaeda? Or is this part of a pattern that includes McCain’s repeated denials of simply verifiable facts? We are, after all, talking about a tired man in his seventies. His memory may not be that good. That’s not a big deal, it’s just part of life. Unless, of course, you are talking about someone who wants to be president of the US. Add that to his temper, which worries the people who know him, and there’s potential for a real problem.
Update: Josh Marshall delves far deeper into this issue:
In almost every discussion of foreign policy, not just today but in previous years, what stands out is McCain’s inability to see beyond the immediate issues of military tactics to any firm grasp of strategy or America’s real vital interests.
Hillary Clinton has stipulated to McCain’s qualifications as Commander-in-Chief; and Obama, implicitly, does the same. But his record actually shows he’s one of the most dangerous people we could have in the Oval Office in coming years — not just because he’s a hothead in using the military, but more because he seems genuinely clueless about the real challenges and dangers the country is facing. He’s too busy living in the fantasy world where our future as a great power and our very safety are all bound up in Iraq.
The whole piece is definitely worth reading.
Now we know what we’ll hear from those like John McCain who support open-ended war. They will argue that leaving Iraq is surrender. That we are emboldening the enemy. These are the mistaken and misleading arguments we hear from those who have failed to demonstrate how the war in Iraq has made us safer. Just yesterday, we heard Senator McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and al Qaeda. Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.