Flashback: McCain Opposed Divestment From South Africa

During his speech before the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) touted the success of America’s divestment campaign from South Africa’s racist apartheid regime and proposed a similar policy towards Iran:

We should privatize the sanctions against Iran by launching a worldwide divestment campaign. …Years ago, the moral clarity and conviction of civilized nations came together in a divestment campaign against South Africa, helping to rid that nation of the evil of apartheid. In our day, we must use that same power and moral conviction against the regime in Iran, and help to safeguard the people of Israel and the peace of the world.

Years ago, McCain lacked the “moral clarity and conviction” to consistently support divestment from South Africa. Despite voting to override President Reagan’s veto of a bill imposing economic sanctions against South Africa in 1986, McCain voted against sanctions on at least six other occasions:

1985: Voted To Recommit Anti-Apartheid Act To Foreign Affairs Committee Postponing Sanctions Against South Africa: McCain voted to postpone for one year the imposition of any sanctions against South Africa, permitting the president to waive the sanctions if he determined that the African National Congress had not renounced violence. [HR 1460, Vote 129, 6/5/85, Failed 139–282, D 7–238; R 132–44; I 0–0]


1985: Voted To Allow U.S. Firms Continue Investing In South Africa: McCain voted to let U.S. firms continue investing in South Africa if their units comply with a code of worker rights. [HR 1460, Vote 110, 5/21/85, Failed 148–256, D 3–227; R 145–29; I 0–0]

1985: Voted Against Requiring Immediate Withdrawal Of U.S. Investment From South Africa: McCain voted against imposing a total ban on U.S. exports to South Africa. [HR 1460, Vote 128, 6/5/85, Failed 77–345, D 77–167; R 0–178; I 0–0]

1985: Voted Against Establishing A Commission To Study Apartheid In South Africa And To Recommend Sanctions: McCain voted against establishing a commission to study apartheid in South Africa and to recommend what sanctions the United States should impose on the government. [HR 1460, Vote 126, 6/5/85, Failed 108–310, D 6–235; R 102–75; I 0–0]

1985: Voted Against Imposing Sanctions Against South Africa: McCain voted against imposing sanctions immediately against South Africa. [HR 1460, Vote 130, 6/5/85, Passed 295–127, D 239–6; R 56–121; I 0–0]

1986: Voted Against Considering Imposing Economic Sanctions Against South Africa: McCain voted against providing for House floor consideration of the bill to impose economic sanctions against South Africa. [HR 4868, Vote 159, 6/18/86, Passed 286–127, D 238–4; R 48–123; I 0–0]

McCain’s schizophrenic voting record on divestment undermines his lofty campaign rhetoric and moral platitudes. McCain was as slow to recognize the importance of “helping to rid that nation of the evil of apartheid” as he is quick to consider bombing Iran.