McCain screws up basic political realities about Iraq . . . again

It’s increasingly clear that despite having somehow gained a reputation for foreign policy expertise, Senator McCain doesn’t have a grasp on the most basic — and important! — details of Iraq or even the greater Middle East. Joe mentioned this yesterday, but it’s really impossible to overstate how significant an issue this is.

Of course, regular AMERICAblog readers already know this — two weeks ago, regarding McCain’s ludicrous claim that Iraq is in danger of being taken over by al Qaeda, I wrote, “Considering [McCain’s] evident lack of intellectual curiosity on the economy, health care, science, and a whole host of other issues, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he has an understanding of the *military* but not any sophisticated *Middle East foreign policy* knowledge . . . if McCain says this is what he thinks, I’m sort of inclined to take him at his word. And if [a different candidate] were to demonstrate such a lack of basic knowledge, it would be viewed as a huge gaffe. Because, y’know, it is.”

McCain is at it again, this time telegraphing his profound lack of understanding of the regional dynamics. He recently claimed, multiple times, that Iran is training al Qaeda elements from Iraq. Iran, of course, is a Shia theocracy, and al Qaeda a Sunni terrorist group. This is like claiming that the RNC is training Democratic congressional candidates. Seriously — this is a HUGE error. Not a single other government official or expert has claimed anything like this. It wasn’t a momentary gaffe or slip; again, he said it multiple times. It’s increasingly clear that he truly doesn’t understand the situation . . . five years into the war.

Two final thoughts: If McCain is in a position to decide whether to, say, order a military strike on Iran, it would probably be good if he didn’t think (erroneously!) that Iran supports al Qaeda. Secondly, it’s nice to see the press picking up on this — a pretty straightforward piece from AP here, for example. And if people discover that McCain doesn’t understand the issue he claims as his greatest strength, he’s finished.

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