The Arizona “McMedia” continually push the myth that Senator John McCain is some kind of expert in foreign policy. One of the great wonders of our time is why the mainstream media so often takes John McCain seriously on matters of foreign policy.
It’s not just “liberal media” who question McCain’s knowledge and judgment. The American Conservative reported McCain’s Horrible Foreign Policy Judgment: “McCain hasn’t just been wrong about Iraq. He has been stubbornly, willfully deluded about both of the biggest foreign policy blunders of the last fifty years.”
And there is McCain’s ever-present puppet boy, Little Lindsey Graham, who simply mouths the words that his puppet master puts into his mouth. Foreign Policy concludes, Lindsey Graham: Wrong on Everything (subscription required).
With this preface, John McCain is airing a new attack ad against his Democratic opponent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, regarding the Iran deal negotiated last year. The ad uses the most recent right-wing talking point du jour from Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal claiming a recent payment to Iran is under the terms of the Iran deal and is “ransom.” Here is what McNasty says on his web site. New Ad: Kirkpatrick’s Dangerous Iran Policies:
The McCain campaign released a new television ad exposing Democrat Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick’s reckless support for the Iran Nuclear Deal. The ad will begin airing today on markets statewide and on cable.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal exposed that the Obama administration paid a cash ransom to Iran for the release of four Americans detained in Tehran on the same weekend the Iran Nuclear Deal– a deal that Democrat Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick wholeheartedly supports — was formally implemented.
First of all, never forget that John McCain is a Neocon war monger who advocated for the unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq, and he has consistently advocated for war with Iran. Remember his “joke” about Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran? Anything that will delay or maybe even prevent a Neocon war of aggression against Iran is opposed by McCain. He wants to get his Iran war on before he dies.
Secondly, this right-wing talking point du jour from Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal claiming a recent payment to Iran is under the terms of the Iran deal and is “ransom” is pure bullshit, as you might imagine. Here are some of the fact checks that the Arizona “McMedia” have failed to report about this claim in fact checking McCain’s attack ad.
The Washington Post: Was the $400 million in cash paid after the Iran prisoner deal really ransom?: “In fact, the money was earmarked to settle a decades-old Iranian claim on the money, plus $1.3 billion in interest. The funds were deposited by Iran before the 1979 revolution to buy U.S. military equipment, and they were frozen under President Jimmy Carter after Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.”
From Vox.com: The US did not pay a $400 million “ransom” to Iran. Here’s what actually happened.: “Once you understand these facts, you will understand that this isn’t actually a story about the Obama administration paying a secret ransom to Iran. It’s a story about the way Washington’s debate over Iran is fundamentally broken.”
And the AP: AP Fact Check: Trump off base on Clinton and Iran Payment. Not only that, but “The Donald” lied about seeing a video of the cash transfer that does not exist. PolitiFact reports, Donald Trump says he didn’t see a video of cash being transferred for ransom.
This is yet another example of John McCain trafficking in the right-wing conspiracy theories of Donald Trump, ginned up in the fever swamps of the conservative media entertainment complex.
Allen S. Weiner, director of the international and comparative law program, at Stanford Law School, who served as the U.S. agent to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal from 1998 to 2001, and Duncan Pickard, a student at Stanford Law School, write this op-ed at the Washington Post. The $400 million payment to Iran was American diplomacy at its finest:
The latest victim in the presidential race’s assault on truth — to say nothing of nuance — came last week in the flurry of accusations surrounding the United States’ payment of $400 million to Iran. Donald Trump called it ransom, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) accused the United States of acting like a “drug cartel.”
In reality, the payment represented continued adherence to a masterful feat of American diplomacy and to the peaceful resolution of disputes under international law. Ronald Reagan understood how important it is for us to keep our promises — which is why, as president, he upheld the agreement negotiated by the Carter administration that led to the recent payment.
The payment was not a ransom but rather part of a settlement agreement that the United States reached with Iran for claims arising out of the 1979 Iranian revolution, which toppled the pro-American shah and brought the current Islamist government to power. Before the revolution, the United States had signed hundreds of contracts with Iran, then an ally, to sell it military equipment. When the hostile Islamist regime took power, the military sales relationship collapsed. That left hundreds of millions of dollars of outstanding claims between the two countries and their citizens: claims both by U.S. companies for breached contracts and expropriated properties, and Iranian demands for the delivery or return of equipment that Iran had already paid for but not received — not to mention the issue of the 52 Americans that Iran then held hostage.
The United States and Iran had severed diplomatic relations, leaving no forum in which to settle these disputes. The countries worked through Algerian intermediaries to negotiate the Algiers Accords, in which Iran agreed to release the hostages in exchange for the United States’ unfreezing Iranian assets. The agreement also established a tribunal in The Hague to settle the outstanding disputes, including many claims for which American companies had already filed lawsuits in U.S. courts. Iran conditioned the release of the hostages on the transfer of the pending claims to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague.
Soon after taking office as president, Reagan issued an executive order to suspend those claims in U.S. courts, which the Supreme Court upheld in Dames & Moore v. Regan. In a testament to the urgency of the case, the court issued its decision a mere eight days after it heard oral arguments. Justice William Rehnquist described the need for the president to respond with flexibility to “international crises” — as commander in chief and diplomat in chief.
Reagan’s executive order implementing the Algiers Accords was a remarkable endorsement of the power of international law to peacefully resolve a violent crisis abroad. He transferred claims under U.S. jurisdiction to an international court — a striking departure from those today who question our fundamental commitment to international alliances such as NATO and who flatly reject widely adopted treaties such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Reagan saw international law as an important mechanism by which the United States could secure peace and security for its citizens.
The Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, which has equal numbers of American, Iranian and neutral judges, has settled more than $2.5 billion in claims, including many in favor of U.S. nationals. Nearly 35 years on, it continues to be a hallmark of peaceful dispute resolution and has contributed greatly to the development of international law.
The $400 million itself was the balance in a “trust fund” account into which Iran, under the shah, had made advance payments on military contracts with the United States. In a claim before the tribunal, Iran had demanded return of these funds plus 35 years of accumulated interest. U.S. diplomats negotiated the interest amount down to $1.3 billion (much less than they feared the tribunal would award if the case proceeded to a final judgment) to generate a $1.7 billion total. The two sides announced the settlement on Jan. 17 — one day after their groundbreaking nuclear agreement, and the same day that each released a few of the other’s prisoners. The Obama administration has repeatedly made clear that the negotiations regarding the prisoners and the trust fund settlement were “completely separate.”
All of this information has been publicly available since January. All that is new is last week’s disclosure that part of the payment was transferred in cash — due to U.S. government restrictions on making wire transfers to Iran — and renewed expressions of Trump’s dangerous ignorance. [And the dangerous ignorance of John McCain.]
The payment, then, reflects the United States’ commitment to respect the rule of law, keep our promises, and pursue peace and accountability under international law. These are characteristics of our strength in the international community that we must steadfastly promise to uphold.
John McCain is just as much a dangerous loose cannon as is Donald Trump, and he traffics in the same right-wing conspiracy theories from the fever swamps of the conservative media entertainment complex. But his political base, the Beltway media villagers and local Arizona “McMedia” who grovel at his feet, pretend that this dangerous old fool knows something about foreign policy. He regularly demonstrates that he does not.
As unfit as Donald Trump is to serve as president, John McCain is just as unfit to serve as Arizona’s Senator.