McCain: ‘I Don’t Know The Progress Or The Nature Or The Significance Of The Iran Threat’

mccain-gaffe1.jpgReferring to Iran’s recent provocative missile tests, Charlie Gibson asked John McCain whether he thought an Israeli strike against Iran would be justified. McCain responded:

I can’t know whether a strike would be justified because I don’t know the progress or the nature or the significance of the threat. I know that a- the threat is growing because the Iranian continued development of nuclear weapons.

Earlier in the interview, McCain responded this way to a question about efforts by America’s European partners to the deal with a threat of which he is unsure:

I was glad that President Sarkoszy in particular but also Prime Minister Brown, Chancellor Merkel and others, have shown this same concern and now I hope that this will be a catalyst to actually come together and impose these sanctions on the Iranians at the end of the day also we cannot afford to have a second Holocaust.

So, while McCain’s unsure of the progress, nature, and significance of the threat, that doesn’t stop him from stating as fact that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons (even though America’s intelligence agencies concluded last year that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003), or from throwing in a gratuitous, fear-mongering reference to the Holocaust at the end there, as an afterthought.

This is pretty significant. Everyone agrees that Iran represents one of the U.S.’s most significant foreign policy challenges, and yet the candidate who has made foreign policy his number one issue — to the virtual exclusion of all other issues — essentially admits that he doesn’t really know the nature or the significance of that challenge.

This sort of vague, generalist approach to Middle East policy is typical for McCain. Whether he’s mixing up Sunni Al Qaeda and Shia Iran, or wrongly insisting that Japan, Germany, and Korea provide workable models for a U.S. presence in Iraq, or just making up stuff about the structure of the Iranian government, McCain has repeatedly demonstrated that, regardless of whatever experience or judgment he may possess, he simply hasn’t done his homework on the region of the world most likely to command the next administration’s attention. And the media have repeatedly demonstrated a disinclination toward calling him on it.