Monday, June 30, 2008

Chalabi and McCain

Ahmed Chalabi went to Tehran this past week, and Juan Cole (by way of Amanda Terkel) brings up a brilliant point about the "foreign policy judgement" of John McCain:

Ahmad Chalabi, meeting in Tehran with Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani, commented on the Status of Forces Agreement being negotiated by the Bush administration with the Iraq government:

'The INC's Chalabi retorted that granting immunity to US military personnel from prosecution under Iraqi law is baldly unacceptable. “The vast majority of Iraqi people and authorities oppose the security treaty and regard it as contradictory to Iraq's sovereignty and security.” Chalabi stated the treaty is counterproductive for Iraq in the long term and what the US is seeking is a binding bilateral agreement for the ongoing presence of its forces in Iraq whose UN mandate expires on December 31.'

Then Chalabi sat there while Larijani warned the US against "adventurism."

I don't think Chalabi likes the US very much. What is he doing discussing a bilateral US-Iraqi agreement with Larijani in Tehran? And let's see, I'm trying to remember whose idea it was for the US public to give Chalabi tens of millions of dollars and to try to put him in power in Baghdad . . .

Oh, yeah, thanks to Amanda Terkel for reminding me . . . it was our very own Mr. Foreign Policy Experience (a.k.a 'one is born every minute' . . .):

'McCain welcomed Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), to Washington and pressured the administration to give him money. When General Anthony Zinni cast doubt upon the effectiveness of the Iraqi opposition, McCain rebuked him at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In 2003, McCain joined four other Republican senators and asked Bush to “personally clear the bureaucratic roadblocks within the State Department” that blocked increased funding for the Chalabi’s group. Also that year, McCain said of Chalabi, “He’s a patriot who has the best interests of his country at heart.”'

McCain's love affair with Chalabi goes back further than that:
In 1998, McCain was one of the sponsors of the Iraq Liberation Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton, which officially changed American policy from containing Hussein to deposing him, and he became a leading figure in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a lobbying group founded by Randy Scheunemann, who is now his chief foreign policy adviser. McCain met with Ahmad Chalabi, the smooth Iraqi dissident who was a favorite of the neocons, and supported him publicly.

The late 1990s were a fairly easy period of black and white in foreign policy--there was no Putin, there was no resurgent Russia, and China was no where near the presence that it is now. The United States was prosperous and secure enough to fall into the ridiculous distraction of blowjobs and blue dresses during that period because all of the tin horn dictators were in their place. And when it came time to exercise judgement on one of the biggest issues of the day, McCain got it wrong.
McCain was responsible for helping pour millions into Chalabi's group--all of it for naught.

In 1998, he was among the cosponsors of the Iraq Liberation Act. The law set "regime change" in Baghdad as U.S. policy and mandated support to opposition groups seeking to overthrow the dictator.

Among the major beneficiaries was the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based exile group headed by Ahmed Chalabi.

The CIA had initially sponsored the group but broke with the controversial leader in 1997, saying he could not be trusted. Under the new law, Chalabi's group received almost $33 million from the State Department, until U.S. officials found financial improprieties and ended the arrangement.

McCain and Chalabi met several times but were not close allies, aides to both men said. "Sen. McCain wasn't pushing one group over another," said Randy Scheunemann, McCain's chief foreign policy advisor.

Back in 1998, only a handful of people could claim to have been prescient in seeing where all of this was headed, and John McCain certainly wasn't one of them. In fact, props to Ron Paul, of all people, for seeing into the future. It's too bad Ron Paul is barking mad on most other issues--this little chestnut is brilliant, though:

So back to the practicality of the bill. Even though one might argue there is a lot of good intentions here, even a Member that is supporting the bill is very uncertain whether it is workable.

In some ways, even if it is workable, it is going to be working against us and working against the United States and working against the taxpayers of this country.

But I would also like to challenge the statement that this does not change policy, because on section 3, it says it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.

That sounds pretty clear to me. As a matter of fact, I think it sounds so clear that it contradicts U.S. law. How do you remove somebody without killing them? Is it just because we do not use our own CIA to bump them off that we are not morally and legally responsible? We will be.

So we are talking about killing Saddam Hussein, a ruthless dictator. But how many ruthless dictators do we have? We have plenty. So how many more should we go after?

So the real question is, why at this particular time, why would we give our President more authority to wage war? He has way too much authority already if the President can drop bombs when he pleases. This of course has occurred not only in this administration but in the administrations of the 1980s as well where bombs were dropped to make some points. But generally speaking, the points are not well made. They usually come back to haunt us.

McCain was against breaking down the effectiveness of the US military before he was for it--see if you can read this speech and not have your jaw hit the floor. I wish the Obama people would reprint this in full on their website and start hammering McCain for it.

Sen. John McCain told veterans Wednesday [August, 1999] that U.S. military forces are "perilously close to the breaking point" because of declining defense budgets.

"Almost 100,000 Americans are serving overseas in an unprecedented number of contingency, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations," the Arizona Republican said at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

McCain criticized both the Clinton administration and Congress on defense issues and also picked up a presidential endorsement from Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

In a 25-minute speech focusing on security, veterans issues, military readiness and China policy, McCain criticized Congress for failing to close defense bases and said Kosovo shouldn't be a model for future military challenges.

Afterward, he was endorsed for the Republican presidential nomination by Thompson, who was introduced as McCain's national cochairman. Thompson originally backed former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race Monday.

"When it comes to reforming the way Washington does business, John McCain is a leader," Thompson said. "In his personal courage and integrity, John McCain has shown characteristics of leadership like nobody I've ever seen."

In his speech, McCain, a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam War who spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war, said some military units were unfit for deployment because of recruiting and retention problems.

"After six years of severely underfunding the military, the president reversed himself and proposed increasing the defense budget," McCain said. "Once again, however, his rhetoric far exceeded his actions."

Clinton addressed the convention Monday and called for VFW support to push Congress for full support of his foreign policy.

McCain said the United States should encourage political change in China and Clinton should "change its failed policy of pressuring only Taiwan to avoid open hostilities."

McCain, who received a standing ovation from VFW delegates at the end of his speech, called for a veterans' bill of rights.

"Many of the promises of benefits that were made or implied to active duty personnel and to us veterans have been ignored, changed or abandoned over the years," he said. "This primarily is true in the area of veterans' health-care benefits."

I love the irony of that article--especially the warm endorsement of Fred Thompson, which has always been worth about a wooden nickel. What happened to that John McCain?
How bad is it when the likes of Ron Paul have demonstrated a better grasp of foreign policy and national defense than you have?

How is it that John McCain has this reputation for foreign policy acumen when, going back ten years or more, he's gotten everything wrong? He's the ultimate wingnut, completely escaping accountability for all of his mistakes and blunders.

No comments: