American Israel Public Affairs Committee Annual Policy Conference begins, June 2, 2008. Speaking at the opening session, presidential candidate John McCain calls for serious sanctions against Iran. Senior News Analyst, Aijaz Ahmad provides context.
AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: And what are the sanctions McCain would impose?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R): I proposed applying sanctions to restrict Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum products, on which it is highly dependent. We need the support of those in the region who are most concerned about Iran, and of our European partners as well. They can help by imposing targeted sanctions that will impose a heavy cost on the regime’s leaders, including the denial of visas and freezing of assets as a further measure to contain and deter Iran. The United States should impose financial sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.
He then goes on to recollect with much pride:
MCCAIN: I was pleased to join senators Lieberman and Kyl in backing an amendment calling for the designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization responsible for killing American troops in Iraq. Over three-quarters of the Senate supported this obvious step, but not Senator Obama.
But who are the Revolutionary Guards? They were Iran’s main bulwark during the 10-year-long Iraq-Iran War, and it is very difficult to find an Irani man now between the age of 30 and 45 who has not served with those guards. Secondly, these Revolutionary Guards are even today the bulk of Iran’s national defense forces. To declare them a terrorist organization is to consign the whole of Iran’s national military forces and much of their population to the category of terrorists. The message appears to be stark enough, and it seems to propose two things: that the US impose sanctions, which would cripple and virtually destroy Irani society, pretty much, as previous sanctions did in Iraq, and that at a time of its choosing, the US, or perhaps Israel backed by the US, can mount a military operation against Iran in the name of neutralizing the Revolutionary Guards and putting an end to what had been touted as Iran’s ongoing nuclear weapons program. All of this is backed up by the bizarre rhetoric of democracy promotion, not only Iran, but also Gaza and Lebanon.
MCCAIN: Iran’s rulers would be very different if the people themselves had a choice in the matter, and American policy should always reflect their hopes for a freer and more just society. The same holds true for the Palestinian people, most of whom ask only for a better life and a less violent world. They’re badly served by the terrorist-led group in charge of Gaza.
The crazy thing about all this is that these are places where elections do take place and which do see changes of government through the electoral process, which is not what happen in countries chiefly aligned with the US, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf countries. McCain calls Hamas a terrorist syndicate, while European observers, as well as the Carter Center—not to speak of the world press—certifies that Hamas won the majority, hence the right to form government in free and fair elections. But facts don’t matter to McCain any more than they mattered for Bush. The will to violence prevails over facts, and we may well be witnessing the first stages of preparations for yet another war.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.