McCain Misspeaks In Amman; Obama Is A Sith Lord

Salah Malkawi/Getty Image

Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

It was not until he got a quiet word of correction in his ear from Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who was traveling with Mr. McCain as part of a Congressional delegation on a nearly weeklong trip, that Mr. McCain corrected himself.

“I’m sorry,” Mr. McCain said, “the Iranians are training extremists, not Al Qaeda.” [source]

Maybe he was taken aback by the beautiful view of Amman from the Citadel? But a bold choice of location to declare his backing of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Meanwhile, Obama continues to disappoint me. In a 37 minute speech entitled A More Perfect Union yesterday – which has been getting rave reviews since – Obama sought to air out all the race issues that have surrounded his candiacy. Much of the speech was dedicated to addressing the issue of his ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright, over controversial statements he’s made over the year, that have garnered some fanfare recently in American media and on YouTube. I’m not entirely sure which statements Americans find controversial. There is one where Wright says 9/11 was a result of America’s foreign policy. If that’s controversial then I can see why Americans still don’t understand anything about the world they’ve sought to conquer. Another statement by Wright suggests that Zionism has an element of ‘white racism’, possibly in reference to Israel being a self-declared Jewish state.

Obama denounced his pastor and has kept his distance, but this speech was a way of putting it behind him.

Although I enjoyed the poetry of the first part of the speech, I was startled by the following statement, which I think elludes to they type of foreign policy we might come to expect from him when it comes to his adjusted world view on the Middle East conflict:

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. [source]

I understand the role radical Islam plays in this region, especially when we’re talking about Iraq, but I think by mentioning Israel, Obama is referring to Hamas and Hizballah. I am personally not a staunch supporter of either organization on either a religious or political level, however I do see them being largely different from groups like Al-Queda. But more importantly, his choice of language in that sentence is staggering. Terms like “rooted”, “stalwart allies”, “perverse and hateful ideologies”.

In a single statement, Obama manages to blame the roots of the Middle East conflict on radical Islam (as personified by Hamas and Hizballah in this context), while completely whitewashing any role a stalwart ally like Israel plays.

Only a Sith deals in absolutes, Lord Barack.

But even though the force is strong with him, I think he’s still generally young and malleable, so I officially invite Obama to Jordan so he can tour some of the Palestinian refugee camps. Then he can give a nice speech by the Citadel and tell us if he thinks those camps, with their tens of thousands of inhabitants, find their roots in the actions of Israel or emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

On a lighter note: this is funny, and so is this.


  • Worse yet, McCain announced his support of an undivided Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. He said that in Jordan. Not one Jordanian official took the time to rebut mKKKain.

  • Nas, awesome post. Man, you’re making me rethink who I’ll vote for. But, there are NO good candidates. How do I make a choice among these yahoos? Any advice?

  • Ah, so this is why there was so much security and extra diplomatic presence around.

    Another American Embarassment in Jordan. Makes me want to go find a big rock to crawl under.

  • This is just a clarification as to why the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is considered controversial.

    Rev. Jeremiah Wright espouses a virulently anti American and anti White world view called ” Black liberation theology”. He uses incendiary language to widen the black/ white racial divide.

    Here is a quote from one of his many sermons promoting racial divide.

    Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. . . . Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.

  • Hatem, I bet Rev. Jeremiah Wright was a black panther in his heydays. this is purely the ideology of the black panthers in the mid 1960s, in which they even proclaimed God as black as a reaction to the notion of the white, evil Christian God who is unfair towards blacks. But still, the media can’t take this speech out of context and present it as an anti-everything black hate speech. This man, and many others of the black powers movement were reacting against a white racist society at the time.

  • Secratea,

    Below is a quote form our Jordan Blogs– Blogger Kinzi:

    “This may be the first election I vote Dem, we’ll see if Hil or Bam make it”.

    I’ll leave it for your imagination todraw your own conclusion

  • From a pro-Arab perspective ….throw your vote away to Ralph Nader..make a statement! At least he speaks up on behalf of justice and he has spoken up recently on the injustice in Gaza..something the coward Obama never did….the Jewish vote and his viability as a candidate are too dear to him to actually speak up for a just cause…..change? yeah right!

  • Hatem, I’m not sure what you meant by that, but after McCain said this, and I see what “Rev” Jeremiah Wright stands for, I’m thinking about staying under the big rock til the election is over.

  • It is so dumb to vote for republican or Democrats agree with Markus,vote for Nader,even though Nader can’t make for various reasons ,i will be giving him my vote that’s for sure.

  • Anything, ANYTHING right now is better than McCain, after 8 years of Bush I will take the devil over another idiotic Bushie style republican. The problem with Obama is that he is under so much pressure to be all things to all people, perhaps thats understandable during election time but the worry is that he will carry on this habit even if he gets voted into power.

  • Obama’s speech today wasn’t really about the Middle East, it was about racism in America. Wright has made some statements that are “controversial” by mainstream American standards about the Middle East and Israel, but the controversy was really a lot more about his “God Damn America” comments, which were unrelated. Racism in America is a pretty taboo topic — even liberal white people pretend that the black community caused their own problems and then claim that there is no more racism here, while still getting outraged over things like this or the OJ Simpson verdict.

    However, I think that Obama is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the Arab world. The man grew up in Indonesia, so he knows that the vast majority of Muslims are not out to destroy America. I’ve heard him described as “pro-Palestinian” in his younger days. However, there have been persistent rumors that he is Muslim (which is, sadly, a political smear campaign here, so at least while he’s campaigning, he can’t really raise any doubts about his opinions on Israel, especially given the power of AIPAC over here with regards to campaign fundraising. I’m just hoping that this will not carry over once he becomes President — I seriously doubt he will be as blatantly pro-Israeli as some past American presidents have been, but I don’t know if he will have the political ability to be as pro-Palestinian as he would like. It will be very interesting to see what happens if that’s the case.

    Either way, I am positive that his true opinions about Israel are far more nuanced, but the campaign season is, unfortunately, not the time to discuss that, because it’s a losing issue. America might be ready for an honest discussion about race, but it absolutely positively is not ready for an honest discussion about Israel.

    I will say, though, that Obama has a far better understanding of the region than either McCain or Clinton, neither of whom really understand it beyond the soundbites they give in debates.

  • Salaam ‘Alaikum

    1. Mo, I heard on the news that he went to Iraq.

    2. Hatem, please, can you source that statement? Otherwise, it is out of context and only *attributed* to Reverend White. Elmo could have said it, for all I know.

    3. Even though the “Middle East issue” was not in place and not the point for this 37 minute speech, the fact is that as the sole writer of that speech, Obama chose to insert that simplistic, sweeping, broad brush statement, and chose, once again as all good political candidates in the US must, to show his unwavering support for our “staunchest ally.” Even though Isra’il has nothing to do with race in America. So I think it is natural for Nas to bring up that one aspect of the speech, as it is also the one thing that *really* jumped out at me, and I’m an American, born and raised and well aware of our racial issues (for which we should all attend therapy, all 300 million of us).

  • hey umm zaid thanks for that info but iraq doesnt or shouldnt count .. for obvious reasons.
    well at least imo anyway.

  • What is amazing is that MaCain’s evangilical supporter John Hagee who says the worst things about the Catholic Church and Katrina victims is not as scrutinized as Obama’s Jeremiah Wright!

    check this on YouTibe and google his name and read and listen to his sick preaching that is reaching millions of Americans!

  • I’m not entirely sure which statements Americans find controversial..

    For starters, how about his statements about white people inventing HIV as an instrument of genocide against blacks? I suppose such ideas may be less controversial among conspiracy-minded Arabs than among Americans.

    If that’s controversial then I can see why Americans still don’t understand anything about the world they’ve sought to conquer.

    I don’t support this wasteful war in Iraq, but the American people have not sought to “conquer the world” and I’m glad you’re a Jordanian and not an American like Wright if that’s the way you feel. Wright not only condemned American foreign policy, which is perfectly fine, but he was obviously gleeful about the attacks. Maybe he should move to the Middle East where the like-minded were dancing in the streets and passing out candy that horrible day. I am not jumping up and down joyously when Palestinian civilians are inadvertently killed as Hamas and Fatah operatives use them for cover. I’m most certainly not dancing in the streets when civilians are intentionally singled out by murderers of any stripe, regardless of the victims’ backgrounds.

    I can’t see how anyone can keep a straight face while claiming that Americans got what they deserved on 9/11 and simultaneously arguing that Americans or anyone else should give a damn when Palestinian civilians–largely supportive of their odious leaders and their terrorism–wind up as dead as those people in the World Trade Center. If amusement at the deaths of so many civilians is a card you choose to you play, then please don’t moan to the rest of the world about any humanitarian crisis in Gaza as if anyone outside the Ummah should care. The Darfurians would be among many worthier candidates in that instance.

  • Obama is surrounded by plenty of anti-Israeli figures. He has , more than any other candidate, to show his ultimate unquestionabble unconditional support of Israel in order to be elected as president. that’s the way it works.

  • Mitch, May be this will help you understand what is wrong with US FP. Just leave the region alone! Get out!

    Published on Wednesday, March 19, 2008 by The Independent/UK
    The Only Lesson We Ever Learn Is That We Never Learn

    by Robert Fisk

    Five years on, and still we have not learnt. With each anniversary, the steps crumble beneath our feet, the stones ever more cracked, the sand ever finer. Five years of catastrophe in Iraq and I think of Churchill, who in the end called Palestine a “hell-disaster”.

    But we have used these parallels before and they have drifted away in the Tigris breeze. Iraq is swamped in blood. Yet what is the state of our remorse? Why, we will have a public inquiry – but not yet! If only inadequacy was our only sin.

    Today, we are engaged in a fruitless debate. What went wrong? How did the people – the senatus populusque Romanus of our modern world – not rise up in rebellion when told the lies about weapons of mass destruction, about Saddam’s links with Osama bin Laden and 11 September? How did we let it happen? And how come we didn’t plan for the aftermath of war?

    Oh, the British tried to get the Americans to listen, Downing Street now tells us. We really, honestly did try, before we absolutely and completely knew it was right to embark on this illegal war. There is now a vast literature on the Iraq debacle and there are precedents for post-war planning – of which more later – but this is not the point. Our predicament in Iraq is on an infinitely more terrible scale.

    As the Americans came storming up Iraq in 2003, their cruise missiles hissing through the sandstorm towards a hundred Iraqi towns and cities, I would sit in my filthy room in the Baghdad Palestine Hotel, unable to sleep for the thunder of explosions, and root through the books I’d brought to fill the dark, dangerous hours. Tolstoy’s War and Peace reminded me how conflict can be described with sensitivity and grace and horror – I recommend the Battle of Borodino – along with a file of newspaper clippings. In this little folder, there was a long rant by Pat Buchanan, written five months earlier; and still, today I feel its power and its prescience and its absolute historical honesty: “With our MacArthur Regency in Baghdad, Pax Americana will reach apogee. But then the tide recedes, for the one endeavour at which Islamic people excel is expelling imperial powers by terror or guerrilla war.

    “They drove the Brits out of Palestine and Aden, the French out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out of Lebanon. We have started up the road to empire and over the next hill we will meet those who went before. The only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.”

    How easily the little men took us into the inferno, with no knowledge or, at least, interest in history. None of them read of the 1920 Iraqi insurgency against British occupation, nor of Churchill’s brusque and brutal settlement of Iraq the following year.

    On our historical radars, not even Crassus appeared, the wealthiest Roman general of all, who demanded an emperorship after conquering Macedonia – “Mission Accomplished” – and vengefully set forth to destroy Mesopotamia. At a spot in the desert near the Euphrates river, the Parthians – ancestors of present day Iraqi insurgents – annihilated the legions, chopped off Crassus’s head and sent it back to Rome filled with gold. Today, they would have videotaped his beheading.

    To their monumental hubris, these little men who took us to war five years ago now prove that they have learnt nothing. Anthony Blair – as we should always have called this small town lawyer – should be facing trial for his mendacity. Instead, he now presumes to bring peace to an Arab-Israeli conflict which he has done so much to exacerbate. And now we have the man who changed his mind on the legality of war – and did so on a single sheet of A4 paper – daring to suggest that we should test immigrants for British citizenship. Question 1, I contend, should be: Which blood-soaked British attorney general helped to send 176 British soldiers to their deaths for a lie? Question 2: How did he get away with it?

    But in a sense, the facile, dumbo nature of Lord Goldsmith’s proposal is a clue to the whole transitory, cardboard structure of our decision-making. The great issues that face us – be they Iraq or Afghanistan, the US economy or global warming, planned invasions or “terrorism” – are discussed not according to serious political timetables but around television schedules and press conferences.

    Will the first air raids on Iraq hit prime-time television in the States? Mercifully, yes. Will the first US troops in Baghdad appear on the breakfast shows? Of course. Will Saddam’s capture be announced by Bush and Blair simultaneously?.

    But this is all part of the problem. True, Churchill and Roosevelt argued about the timing of the announcement that war in Europe had ended. And it was the Russians who pipped them to the post. But we told the truth. When the British were retreating to Dunkirk, Churchill announced that the Germans had “penetrated deeply and spread alarm and confusion in their tracks”.

    Why didn’t Bush or Blair tell us this when the Iraqi insurgents began to assault the Western occupation forces? Well, they were too busy telling us that things were getting better, that the rebels were mere “dead-enders”.

    On 17 June 1940, Churchill told the people of Britain: “The news from France is very bad and I grieve for the gallant French people who have fallen into this terrible misfortune.” Why didn’t Blair or Bush tell us that the news from Iraq was very bad and that they grieved – even just a few tears for a minute or so – for the Iraqis?

    For these were the men who had the temerity, the sheer, unadulterated gall, to dress themselves up as Churchill, heroes who would stage a rerun of the Second World War, the BBC dutifully calling the invaders “the Allies” – they did, by the way – and painting Saddam’s regime as the Third Reich.

    Of course, when I was at school, our leaders – Attlee, Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, or Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy in the United States – had real experience of real war. Not a single Western leader today has any first-hand experience of conflict. When the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq began, the most prominent European opponent of the war was Jacques Chirac, who fought in the Algerian conflict. But he has now gone. So has Colin Powell, a Vietnam veteran but himself duped by Rumsfeld and the CIA.

    Yet one of the terrible ironies of our times is that the most bloodthirsty of American statesmen – Bush and Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfovitz – have either never heard a shot fired in anger or have ensured they did not have to fight for their country when they had the chance to do so. No wonder Hollywood titles like “Shock and Awe” appeal to the White House. Movies are their only experience of human conflict; the same goes for Blair and Brown.

    Churchill had to account for the loss of Singapore before a packed House. Brown won’t even account for Iraq until the war is over.

    It is a grotesque truism that today – after all the posturing of our political midgets five years ago – we might at last be permitted a valid seance with the ghosts of the Second World War. Statistics are the medium, and the room would have to be dark. But it is a fact that the total of US dead in Iraq (3,978) is well over the number of American casualties suffered in the initial D-Day landings at Normandy (3,384 killed and missing) on 6 June, 1944, or more than three times the total British casualties at Arnhem the same year (1,200).

    They count for just over a third of the total fatalities (11,014) of the entire British Expeditionary Force from the German invasion of Belgium to the final evacuation at Dunkirk in June 1940. The number of British dead in Iraq – 176 – is almost equal to the total of UK forces lost at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45 (just over 200). The number of US wounded in Iraq – 29,395 – is more than nine times the number of Americans injured on 6 June (3,184) and more than a quarter of the tally for US wounded in the entire 1950-53 Korean war (103,284).

    Iraqi casualties allow an even closer comparison to the Second World War. Even if we accept the lowest of fatality statistics for civilian dead – they range from 350,000 up to a million – these long ago dwarfed the number of British civilian dead in the flying-bomb blitz on London in 1944-45 (6,000) and now far outnumber the total figure for civilians killed in bombing raids across the United Kingdom – 60,595 dead, 86,182 seriously wounded – from 1940 to 1945.

    Indeed, the Iraqi civilian death toll since our invasion is now greater than the total number of British military fatalities in the Second World War, which came to an astounding 265,000 dead (some histories give this figure as 300,000) and 277,000 wounded. Minimum estimates for Iraqi dead mean that the civilians of Mesopotamia have suffered six or seven Dresdens or – more terrible still – two Hiroshimas.

    Yet in a sense, all this is a distraction from the awful truth in Buchanan’s warning. We have dispatched our armies into the land of Islam. We have done so with the sole encouragement of Israel, whose own false intelligence over Iraq has been discreetly forgotten by our masters, while weeping crocodile tears for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died.

    America’s massive military prestige has been irreparably diminished. And if there are, as I now calculate, 22 times as many Western troops in the Muslim world as there were at the time of the 11th and 12th century Crusades, we must ask what we are doing. Are we there for oil? For democracy? For Israel? For fear of weapons of mass destruction? Or for fear of Islam?

    We blithely connect Afghanistan to Iraq. If only Washington had not become distracted by Iraq, so the narrative now goes, the Taliban could not have re-established themselves. But al-Qa’ida and the nebulous Osama bin Laden were not distracted. Which is why they expanded their operations into Iraq and then used this experience to assault the West in Afghanistan with the hitherto – in Afghanistan – unheard of suicide bomber.

    And I will hazard a terrible guess: that we have lost Afghanistan as surely as we have lost Iraq and as surely as we are going to “lose” Pakistan. It is our presence, our power, our arrogance, our refusal to learn from history and our terror – yes, our terror – of Islam that is leading us into the abyss. And until we learn to leave these Muslim peoples alone, our catastrophe in the Middle East will only become graver. There is no connection between Islam and “terror”. But there is a connection between our occupation of Muslim lands and “terror”. It’s not too complicated an equation. And we don’t need a public inquiry to get it right.

    –Robert Fisk


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