The more the Bush/Cheney foreign policy failed, the more Americans heard from the “Three Amigos” – Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) maintained a very high national profile, eagerly telling Americans not to believe their lying eyes. The wars were noble, worthwhile successes, they said. We were just supposed to trust them.
Much of the political media swooned over the trio, but Americans in general soured on the Bush/Cheney catastrophes anyway, and in 2008, McCain’s presidential campaign fell far short.
In the years that followed, the group lost a member – Lieberman left the Senate and became a lobbyist – and the public’s appetite for more Middle Eastern invasions faded. But yesterday, as the New York Times reported, the “Three Amigos” were nevertheless back together again for a reunion show of sorts, this time to condemn an international nuclear agreement with Iran.
Mr. Graham, a Republican presidential hopeful from South Carolina who is one of the most hawkish voices in his party, repeatedly invoked the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, just over three miles from the Women’s National Republican Club in Midtown Manhattan, where the “No Nukes for Iran” forum was held.“My friends, what we will see is a nuclearized Middle East,” said Mr. Graham of the deal’s implications, arguing it would extend well beyond Iran. “They view New York as a symbol of America. This is the place they would choose to hit us again if they could.”
Graham, of course, made the comments with McCain and Lieberman literally by his side.
And in the process, we were reminded anew why the “Three Amigos” added so little to the public debate over national security and foreign policy.
Look, I realize that the right reflexively opposes all nuclear diplomacy, negotiations with Iran, and everything President Obama comes up with, so the new international nuclear agreement is effectively the Worst Idea in the World for Republican hawks. I also realize, of course, that Lindsey Graham’s presidential platform rests on a foundation of blinding, irrational fear.
But in making the case against the Iran deal, “repeatedly invoking” 9/11 is hardly a sound strategy. Iran had absolutely nothing to do with the 2001 attacks – Iran and al Qaeda are enemies – so connecting the two is needlessly misleading.
Graham’s broader point appeared to be a prediction: the diplomatic agreement that keeps Iran from developing nuclear weapons will, in the senator’s mind, lead to Iran and other Middle Eastern countries having nuclear weapons.
Given Graham’s track record on national-security predictions, he’s inadvertently making things easier for the other side.