Television screens in the United States are brimming over with scenes of violent protest (like the one at right) smuggled out of Iran, and the talking heads are muttering over President Obama’s cautious “response” to the situation. The President has expressed dismay at the apparent suppression of dissent in Iran but refrains from verbally attacking the country’s government. And his Republican critics are urging more bellicose “support” for the protesters. As you might expect, one of Obama’s most vociferous critics is Senator John McCain.
McCain, who pledged America’s loyalty to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia when invading Russian troops came to the defense of dissidents in South Ossetia… McCain whose International Republican Institute has been stirring up trouble in countries around the globe for decades… McCain, the war hero… McCain the warmonger.
McCain’s undercover relations with foreign governments are byzantine – and often self-serving. Under the pretense of spreading democracy and the free-market economic system, McCain’s IRI routinely undermines foreign governments perceived as unfriendly to American business interests. And Randy Scheunemann, one of the men running McCain’s campaign, was a lobbyist for the Georgian government when the presidential candidate proclaimed that “we are all Georgians now.”
McCain’s saber-rattling declaration was empty rhetoric, of course. Then-President George Bush was not about to send U.S. troops to defend Georgia against Russia. He is not that crazy. But McCain is. Americans are lucky he was not elected President, or the U.S. would surely be at war in Iran and North Korea by now. Not to mention Georgia, where McCain’s pal, President Mikhail Saakashvili, is currently cracking down on an uprising similar to the one in Iran.
You probably won’t see this on American TV but, just last week, Saakashvili announced a nationwide state of emergency after riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against thousands of demonstrators calling for the Georgian president to resign (photo of protesters at left). Nearly 100 people were injured during clashes last Thursday. The crackdown followed six days of protests in front of Georgia’s Parliament. American-educated (and “pro-Western”) Saakashvili accused Moscow of fomenting the protests and expelled three Russian diplomats.
I heard not a peep of protest from McCain and the other Republican “defenders of democracy” against Saakashvili’s iron-fisted repression of dissent in Georgia. Yet they are clamoring for President Obama to meddle in Iran’s internal affairs. Surely that must rank among the worst advice ever given to a President during an extremely dangerous time.