When John McCain slipped into Syria the other day to meet with Islamist rebels, Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted “best wishes” to his fellow warmonger and claimed “dibs on his office if he doesn’t come back.” Leave it to Sen. Graham, who has been agitating along with McCain for the US to send weapons to the rebels, to joke about the untrustworthiness of the very people he wants to arm. But the rebels’ savagery is no joke: we are, after all, talking about people who eat the lungs of their enemies.
“This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.”
And yet irony doesn’t quite cover it: insanity is more like it. Here is a man who is the Republican party’s voice when it comes to foreign policy, a role he has appropriated due to his intimacy with those who book the Sunday talk shows, and yet when it comes to America’s relationship with the rest of the world his utter and complete ignorance is appalling.
He told us the invasion and occupation of Iraq would be “fairly easy.” He pontificated that the anthrax attacks were delivered by the Iraqis. His preferred policy for Afghanistan: we should “muddle through,” rather than withdraw. When the North Koreans started acting out, he averred we ought to threaten them with “extinction.” And when Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia got into an armed conflict over the breakaway province of South Ossetia, McCain announced “Today, We Are All Georgians” and demanded we go to war with Moscow. He thinks Iran is training Al Qaeda: he also thinks Iraq shares a border with Pakistan.
In short, McCain doesn’t know s%^*t about foreign policy: he has been wrong, wrong, wrong about absolutely everything. So it isn’t merely ironic that he is leading the charge in demanding we intervene in Syria – it’s downright crazy.
What’s puzzling is why anyone is listening to him. And his fellow Senators are certainly paying attention: an overwhelmingbipartisan vote of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the McCain-Menendez bill authorizing aid to the rebels (there were only three dissents).
Most of the other Senators weren’t that impressed with Sen. Paul’s argument: “I don’t think any member of this committee would vote for anything we thought was going to arm al Qaeda,” said Republican rising star Marco Rubio.
Isn’t that what they were saying in the days before our Libyan “allies” murdered the American ambassador to Libya?
“Al Qaeda, unfortunately, is well-armed,” added Menendez. “That is the present reality in Syria.”
Translation: What difference will a few more anti-tank guns make? Which ought to tell us why the New Jersey Democratic Senator isn’t exactly a candidate for a MacArthur “genius” grant.
So what did McCain do in Syria? The military backbone of the opposition is the al-Nusra Front, which has recently pledgedallegiance to al-Qaeda. Did McCain meet with their commanders – in spite of the fact that they have recently been added to the State Department’s list of officially-designated terrorist organizations? He didn’t say. What we do know about his trip is that he went and listened to their demands that we set up a no fly zone, send them guns and cash, and attack Hezbollah in Lebanon –yes, Lebanon. They want us to widen the war, and naturally Sen. McCain is for that, too. Has there ever been a war he didn’t want to escalate?
His trip was facilitated by the “Syrian Emergency Task Force,” a mysterious group set up by a former Senate staffer, Moustafa Mouaz, which sprang into existence fully-funded and which naturally doesn’t have to register as an agent of a foreign power – since the Foreign Agents Registration Act is only selectively enforced. Mouaz is a former aide to Senator Blanche Lincoln and Rep. Vic Synder, both liberal to centrist Democrats. Here he is cheering on al-Nusra – the official al-Qaeda franchise in Syria – on Twitter. (See also here and here.) The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the “educational” branch of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, lists him on their web site as one of their trusted “experts”: he recentlyaddressed a WINEP conference.
The Israel lobby’s involvement in all this is somewhat obscure, but WINEP has been on the scene providing quotes and rationales for US intervention, and now with the Israeli air strikes and all this talk of Hezbollah propping up a supposedly faltering Assad, it’s clear why: the Israelis want to use this opportunity to take out another of their enemies. They lured us into attacking Iraq, and now they are insisting we go after Iran – but as an appetizer, so to speak, they’re inviting us to first gobble up Syria before partaking of the main course.