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The Real Story

VOICEOVER: “The Real Story,” with senior news editor for The Real News Network, Paul Jay.

PAUL JAY: On March 26, John McCain made a major speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles. NBC says the speech was meant to define his character.


March 26, 2008

MSNBC NEWS HOST: While the Democrats engage in this back-and-forth hand-to-hand combat, John McCain can aim for the general election audience, explaining who he is and who he’s not.

JOHN MCCAIN, US SENATOR (R-AZ): I hate war. And I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are.

VOICEOVER: While McCain did not criticize President Bush by name, clearly he set out to distance himself in key areas, rebuffing what critics have described as “cowboy diplomacy.”


And NBC failed to report on the most critical section of McCain’s speech: his policy on Iran. And when it comes to Iran, how much difference is there between McCain, Bush, and Cheney?


December 4, 2007

GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.


Over the past few weeks, the administration’s chorus against Iran, delivered in the US and in the Middle East, has continued to link Iran with nuclear weapons. Somehow, with typical news media amnesia, there’s no reference to the National Intelligence Estimate by American agencies that said clearly Iran does not have a nuclear weapon program and is years away from having the capacity for a weapon even if it wanted one. This intelligence estimate doesn’t faze Senator McCain. He describes Iran as the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions.


MCCAIN: There are states that support them and which might help them acquire those weapons, because they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West.


If that’s true, doesn’t that lay the grounds for war? But there’s a problem with this. Iran’s repressive theocratic rulers may be rivals to the US for power in the region, but there’s no evidence they have nuclear weapons or that they will hand such weapons to terrorists. And that’s the considered opinion of American intelligence agencies. Weapons of mass destruction, ties to al-Qaeda—obviously sounds familiar. Has television news learned nothing over the last eight years? McCain’s war on terrorism remix is our subject after the break, when The Real News Analyst Pepe Escobar joins us.


JAY: Welcome back to “The Real Story.” Last week, John McCain gave a major speech on foreign policy, which was also an attempt to redefine, who is the real John McCain as he heads towards the presidential election campaign. Joining me to discuss McCain’s speech is Pepe Escobar, Real News analyst and for more than twenty years a foreign correspondent covering Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. Pepe, what did you make of McCain’s speech?

PEPE ESCOBAR, THE REAL NEWS ANALYST: Well, he was very careful to position himself as a realistic idealist, a multilateralist, but always with a twist.

JAY: And no longer the cowboy diplomat, as NBC says.

ESCOBAR: Exactly. No more cowboy diplomacy. But if we dig further, we’re going to see many similarities with the Bush doctrine. Let’s take a look at this clip, for instance.


MCCAIN: In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone.


So multilateral McCain wants to carry the same Bush-Cheney agenda, but with a twist: by empowering a so-called league of democracies, an alternative alliance totally bypassing the United Nations, including democracies like India and Israel, for instance, but not major powers like China and Russia. We could call this leap Son of Cold War. Anyway, we should not be fooled. Multilateralism, yes, but the short-term goal remains the same: regime change in Iran. Here’s another clip from the same speech.


MCCAIN: —and Iran, nation whose president has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, from obtaining a nuclear weapon.


Now, this reference to Ahmadinejad and Israel keeps getting repeated, but everyone that knows something about Iran and politics knows that the president does not determine foreign policy. That’s in the hands of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and he has never said such a thing. It’s also well known that Ahmadinejad has a big mouth, but that’s not what determines Iran’s foreign policy. The most important thing that’s happening is that Bush and Cheney are trying to do with Iran what they did with Iraq: they want to create a pattern of demonization of Iran. And what we see here is a pattern of deception as well, in the American public, of world global opinion. And that’s eerily familiar to the good old Axis of Evil.


January 29, 2002

GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an Axis of Evil.

October 7, 2002

BUSH: The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. It has aided, trained, and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda.


But after reviewing more than 600,000 Iraqi documents, a Pentagon-sponsored review recently determined no evidence of any link between Saddam and al-Qaeda. And most recently, we had a gaffe by McCain in Amman, Jordan.


March 23, 2008

JOHN MCCAIN, US SENATOR (R-AZ): Al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training, and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. —I’m sorry. The Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.


So to link Iran with the war on terror, or with a terrorist state threatening the world, or even to nuclear weapons, this is just propaganda war. And that’s the secret of the McCain doctrine. It’s the same old war on terror, only remixed.

JAY: It’s interesting. Do you think it was a gaffe?

ESCOBAR: Well, as we all know, the mainstream media is very polite. But as we all know as well, John McCain has been a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for ages. He knows all the main players in the Middle East, or at least he should know. He’s been there countless times. He knows that Iran helped the US to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. How could he not know that there’s extreme hostility between al-Qaeda and the theocratic leadership in Iran? So if it was intentional, that’s very, very scary. If it was not, he doesn’t know what he was talking about. So it’s up to you to decide.

JAY: I’m not sure which is the scarier proposition. Thank you. And thank you for watching “The Real Story.” Please remember, The Real News Network depends on you for its existence. We don’t accept government funding, corporate funding, or advertising, which means if we’re going to be here, we need you. So please donate now.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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