Attempting to ridicule Barack Obama, Senator John McCain said, “Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is to have our presidents sit down with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades”
There is only one problem with that. It’s a lie. The US has not had any diplomatic talks or relations with Iran over the past two decades. The last time we had any dealings with Iran was in the mid 1980s when Oliver North and the Reagan administration worked with them to sell them weapons so that we could use the proceeds to fund the Nicaraguan Contras illegally, an operation that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. As far as how receptive Iran might be to talking to the United States and negotiating with us on weapons, Iran seemed willing to work with us on the Iran-Contra project. Iran has tried to talk to us twice over the past eight years through intermediaries and they were rebuffed both times (1). We have no idea what would happen if we tried to talk to them about their nuclear program. We do know that we don’t like how things are going now without talks.
In terms of talking to North Korea about their nuclear program, McCain suggests that talking to North Korea about nukes was a failure. In fact, during the administration of President Bill Clinton, we talked to North Korea several times and in so doing, we convinced North Korea not to go ahead with producing a nuclear weapon (2). When the Bush administration STOPPED engaging and talking with North Korea it resulted in Pyongyang going ahead with development and culminated with the North Koreans testing their first nuclear device in October of 2006. For over forty years since hostilities in the Korean conflict ended, nine different US Presidential administrations, five Republican and four Democratic had prevented the North Koreans from becoming a fully nuclear state. The Bush administration managed to undo all of that in less than six years by not engaging them. McCain, whose tendency is always to emulate Bush and his policies, thinks that repeating this failed policy is the right thing to do.
As if those two lies and mischaracterizations are not enough, what do you think McCain thinks we should do to get the Chinese to reduce their nuclear arsenal? McCain says we should talk to the Chinese. “Cautioning against relying solely on force or merely on talks, McCain proposed a bipartisan push to strengthen a broad array of international arms treaties and nuclear monitoring.” (3). So McCain ridicules Obama for wanting to negotiate nuclear weapons programs away with two non-friendly countries, but openly promotes it with a third. Perhaps the right way to characterize John McCain’s position on this is to say:
John McCain was against negotiating with other countries to reduce or eliminate their nuclear programs before he was for it.
Or is it the other way around? Who can tell? Maybe this double-speak is best viewed when one considers that McCain is now going to campaign alongside President Bush. All we have had from Bush for the last eight years is lies, doublespeak and failure. It appears as if the Arizona Senator and presumptive Republican nominee is as much as telling us all that what we would have to look forward to in an administration headed by him is more of McSame.
(1) The Australian, 1/19/2007, “US rejected secret offers from Iranians” - http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21082673-601,00.html
(2) Slate : Fred Kaplan, 10/11/2006 , “The Slime Talk Express
McCain is dead wrong about Bill Clinton and North Korea. “ - http://www.slate.com/id/2151354/nav/tap2/
(3) AP Via Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/27/2008, “McCain: Talk with China over halting nuclear bomb material and with Russia to reduce nukes“ - http://www.startribune.com/nation/19283269.html