A perfect example of the lefty spin on the McCain “gaffe” that wasn’t a gaffe is this conference call Michael Goldfarb participated in with the Center of American Progress (a leftist organization) that included Jon Stoltz, founder of VoteVets.org, Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at CAP, and Ilan Goldberg of the National Security Network:
Goldberg said McCain “fundamentally misunderstands the problem of what’s actually going on in Iraq.” He says each insurgent group has “its own interests” and “they’re all fighting each other.” Katulis then said that McCain “lacks a basic mastery of the facts,” and that “he doesn’t understand the challenges that America faces.” (Hit them where they’re strongest!)
Then the questions. First Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal asks if there are “groups within Iran” that have supported al Qaeda. Jon Stoltz replies that Iran “almost went to war with the Taliban.” He says “I fought these people.” She repeats, is there “any Iranian influence with al Qaeda?” Stoltz responds, “Not from what I saw on the ground in Iraq.” Meckler again, “well you won’t necessarily see from the ground in Iraq…” Stoltz cuts her off, “we’re the ones who do the fighting.” Meckler says “I understand that but you can’t see every influence from a neighboring country, I mean are you really saying because you didn’t personally see it, it doesn’t exist?” Stoltz says “not from the people we fought.”
Meckler again asks if it is inaccurate to say that there is any element within Iran that is supporting al Qaeda. Golldberg: “I don’t have the intelligence to say that one way or the other.” Stoltz jumps in, “I never saw that on the ground.” Katulis then says “the facts on this are in a gray area…but it seems highly improbable that there is broad Iranian support for al Qaeda figures.” Later he added that “one might be able to find in our intelligence agencies snippets of some information of some Iranian groups actually supporting some parts of AQI in particular for whatever reason…” Case closed, right?
I was struck by their insistence that Iran wouldn’t collaborate with Sunni extremists, and that they had offered as evidence the fact that Iran had, at one point, almost gone to war with the Taliban. So I asked, how do they reconcile this with the deep Iranian support for Hamas, and support in the form of weapons and training for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Katulis said “I disagree with the premise of your question, because again it trends towards lumping together threats in a banner of Islamofascism that conservatives tend to do and frankly that type of analytical assessment is what’s got us into this mess in Iraq.” So I rephrase in the form of “do you deny” that Iran is supporting the Taliban or elements of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. “Well, if you’re going to ask that question in that sort of way, you can’t deny that anything might be possible in those regards, and certainly on the Afghanistan front there has been strong evidence that Iran, feeling pressure and threatened from the U.S. encircling them, has supported some elements in the last few years of the Taliban. But the way that you ask the question is intended to get some sort of answer that fills whatever storyline you’re trying to promote.”
Yes, the storyline where Iran, often at odds with Sunni extremists, still assists them when their is a convergence of interests. And if Iran is willing to support the Taliban, whom they almost went to war with, because they feel pressure from the United States, why wouldn’t they do the same for AQI?
In fact, they have supported al-Qaeda:
The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq.
An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms “that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups.” The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran’s revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.
But nevermind all that. The fact that McCain attempted to correct himself is a bit disconcerting since he had no reason to. Maybe Lieberman whispering into his ear forced him to but there just was no need. But the way the MSM and left have fallen all over themselves to paint this non-gaffe as some kind of watershed moment is hilarious. Could it be they want the Obama/Wright story to die? Or do they really honestly believe Iran would never support al-Qaeda because they are Sunni? Could they be that ignorant.
I’m thinking the answer is yes on both counts.
Powerline points out that General Caldwell said the opposite of what the left believes last April:
Citing testimony from detainees in U.S. custody, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said Iranian intelligence operatives were backing the Sunni militants inside Iraq while at the same time training Shiite extremists in Iran.
“We have, in fact, found some cases recently where Iranian intelligence services have provided to some Sunni insurgent groups some support,” Caldwell told reporters, adding that he was aware of only Shiite extremists being trained inside Iran.
There was no gaffe, our intelligence and military have known for over a year of the support coming from Iran to al-Qaeda. They may want to make it a gaffe, to somehow show the country that McCain isn’t ready to lead this country in a time of way……but in their world Obama is.
McCain’s camp didn’t take the broadsides from Obama lying down either. They issued this statement today which spells out why the man who loves himself some black hate is not ready to lead this country:
“Senator Obama says that ending the war will not be easy, that ‘there will be dangers involved.’ Yet, in that patented way of his, he declines to name those dangers. Let me enumerate a few: al Qaeda, which is now on the run, will survive, claim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the ‘tactics’ of the surge, still exist and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda, which would almost certainly ignite again civil war in Iraq, a civil war that could easily descend into genocide. To say that invading Iraq was used as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda is one thing. To pretend that our defeat there won’t provide an even bigger one is foolish supposition. Iran, which trains Shia extremists and is known to arm and equip Sunni extremists, a fact Senator Obama is apparently unaware of, will also view our premature withdrawal as a victory, as will other countries in the region, and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly. These are some of ‘dangers,’ that our premature withdrawal from Iraq will engender, and they all have the potential to destabilize the entire region. A realistic plan to prevent them from occurring is what people with experience in statecraft call ‘strategy,’ something Senator Obama has not offered yet.
“Senator Obama, as has also become a habit of his ‘new politics,’ mischaracterizes John McCain’s position by saying McCain did not want to reduce troops because the violence in Iraq was too high, and now do not wish to do so because the violence in down. The reason violence is down is because General Petraeus’ counterinsurgency is, which even Senator Obama recognizes, succeeding. Those ‘tactics,’ are advancing our ‘strategy.’ Deprive General Petraeus of the resources and manpower to employ those tactics, or worse, leave Iraq altogether, and our strategy will collapse. That is national security 101. John McCain wants American forces to come home when our clear and serious interests at stake in Iraq, which nearly 4,000 Americans have given their lives to secure, are truly safe, when al Qaeda is defeated; Iran’s influence is contained, and the potential for a truly cataclysmic civil war in Iraq is remote. That, I think, is what is called ‘making us safer.’ Senator Obama’s plan, if it can be charitably described as one, would do the reverse.”