The late senator from Arizona leaves behind a legacy as one of the Senate’s last prominent proponents of US interventionism.
Sen. John McCain walks with Abdul Hafiz Ghoqa (L), spokesman of the Libyan National Transitional Council, during a tour of rebel headquarters in Benghazi, Libya, April 22, 2011.
When President Donald Trump added Iraq to his travel ban list targeting several Muslim-majority countries last year, Gen. Talib Kinani, the head of Iraq’s counterterrorism service, made a cold call to the office of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
“Within minutes, the senator agreed to see us, surprising even our seasoned lobbyist,” said Fareed Yasseen, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States. “Then ensued one of the most heartwarming and genuine meetings I have attended in my almost two years as Iraq’s ambassador to Washington.”
Trump, frequently at loggerheads with the senator, who died of brain cancer last month, eventually removed Iraq from the list.
Many interpreted McCain’s Sept. 1 funeral as a bipartisan rebuke of Trump. But this meant pitting McCain’s ardor for the long US history of foreign military intervention against Trump’s “America First” agenda.
“It seems to me when we look at the enormous outpouring of sorrow and regret that his passing triggered, in some sense it was a posthumous celebration of American exceptionalism,” Andrew Bacevich, an international relations historian at Boston University, told Al-Monitor. “McCain was an ideologue and the essence of his ideology in that regard was his belief in American exceptionalism.”
Former President George W. Bush made the same connection in his eulogy Sept. 1.
“It’s this combination of courage and decency that makes the American military something new in history, an unrivaled power for good,” Bush said.
Ironically, McCain, who had fervently championed Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq on the false evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active program for weapons of mass destruction, eventually called the war “a very serious” mistake in a memoir published earlier this year. In the book, McCain wrote, “I have to accept my share of the blame.”
Nevertheless, McCain still remains beloved by many Iraqis precisely because he advocated Saddam’s removal from power. Zuhair Humadi, an Iraqi-American and former secretary-general of Iraq’s Council of Ministers, even went so far as to set up a McCain for President committee in Baghdad during the senator’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.
The Iraqi Kurds are also mourning a longtime champion.
“He stood by us when the Peshmerga needed weapons [against the Islamic State] and he spoke out against the escalation of tensions between Kurdistan and the federal government of Iraq after [the] Kurdistan independence referendum in 2017,” the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative to Washington, Sami Abdul Rahman, said in a statement.
But 17 years of prolonged US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have deprived the American public of its appetite for extensive US military adventures overseas. While a Pew Research Center survey said 72% Americans supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Real Clear Politics poll last year found that 50% of Americans are “weary” of US military intervention.
“To the extent that today there appears to be not much of a popular appetite for further intervention abroad, I think that what we really see is a tradition that is almost certain to manifest when the circumstances are a little bit different than they are today and when the memories of Iraq and Afghanistan begin to fade,” said Bacevich.
Indeed, many of McCain’s interventionist colleagues are clamoring for the United States to do more in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad, bolstered by his Iranian and Russian patrons, threatens a bloody offensive to retake the last rebel stronghold in the province of Idlib.
“Trump should not repeat the mistakes of [President Barack Obama] by leaving Syria,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., McCain’s closest friend in Congress, told Al-Monitor. “The Middle East has been turned upside down. The Iranian regime was enriched badly by the nuclear deal. When we left Iraq, we paid a price. [McCain] told Bush you don’t have enough troops, he was right. He told Obama if you withdraw the troops at the same time you introduce them into Afghanistan, it won’t work. He was telling Trump you should engage Iran in Syria, or you’ll regret it.”
Trump argued for less military intervention in the 2016 campaign as part of his “America First” approach, frequently lambasting his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her vote in favor of the Iraq war when she represented New York in the Senate. But Trump’s “America First” impulse is often at odds with his policy of advancing a tougher US posture on Iran, a posture McCain fiercely believed in.
McCain infamously chanted “bomb, bomb, bomb” Iran in 2007 during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination; this reiterated a parody that emerged during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis of a song the Beach Boys had made famous. He also maintained that Iranwas the “real problem” in the region, pointing to its support for Shiite proxies throughout the Middle East, including Assad.
In 2013 McCain crossed into Syria and took a photo with a group of Sunni rebels as part of a bid to convince the Obama administration to provide weapons and support to the Syrian opposition, which it eventually did. But the trip caused an international uproar when family members of kidnapped Lebanese Shiite pilgrims accused two of the rebels of being involved in their abduction.
Prior to that, McCain visited Libyan forces fighting dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi, urging the United States to do more to support the rebels after the United States and its NATO allies instated a no-fly zone over the war-torn country.
“I would say [McCain] has a great responsibility for the adverse results in Libya and Syria even more than he does Iraq,” Ted Carpenter, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, told Al-Monitor. “He had consistently been one of the most enthusiastic lobbyists about US support for rebel forces in Syria despite growing evidence about the extremist nature of many of the rebels.”
Even now, as Assad moves to crush the last of Syria’s Islamist and non-Islamist opposition alike, Graham said it’s not too late for Trump to act in Syria. However, he added that right now Trump “has no plan other than we shouldn’t go into Idlib.”
And yet Graham — and McCain, posthumously — may get their wish.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump has agreed to keep some 2,000 troops in Syria indefinitely to counter Iran despite previously pushing for their withdrawal by the end of the year — a withdrawal vociferously opposed by McCain.
At the same time, Russia has threatened to attack al-Tanf, a strategic base with US troops situated near the Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian borders. In turn, US forces stationed at the garrison began military drills Friday.
Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.