Jul 11, 2008

How Obama and McCain Reacted To Iranian Missile Tests

Both Obama and McCain have been quick to respond to Iran's missile tests. The New York Times contrasts the policy positions of the two candidates

Iran’s saber-rattling missile tests quickly became a flash point in the presidential election on Wednesday as Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama each seized on the tests to try to validate their differing policies on Iran.
Each man spoke of the growing threat posed by Iran, and each called for tougher penalties against the country. But Mr. Obama called once again for pursuing what he called “direct and aggressive diplomacy with the Iranian regime,” while Mr. McCain warned against that approach and said that the tests highlighted the need for a missile defense system in Europe.
It was a classic example of how events beyond the control of campaigns can intrude into the sometimes insular debates of a presidential race. Mr. McCain had dedicated the week to campaigning on the economy, but he tends to talk about flare-ups in the Middle East to highlight his foreign policy experience. He immediately issued a statement about the tests and ended up talking about them for much of the day.
And Mr. Obama seemed more than happy to take up the gauntlet, arguing that the heightened tensions with Iran showed that a new approach was needed.
“These missile tests demonstrate once again that we need to change our policy to deal aggressively with the threat posed by the Iranian regime,” Mr. Obama said in a statement that called for more direct diplomacy. “Through its nuclear program, missile capability, meddling in Iraq, support for terrorism, and threats against Israel, Iran now poses the greatest strategic challenge to the United States in the region in a generation.”
But Mr. McCain criticized Mr. Obama for opposing an amendment branding Iran’s
Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. (Mr. Obama instead co-sponsored a bill designating it as a terrorist organization, but he said the amendment that Mr. McCain supported was too provocative.) And Mr. McCain again chided Mr. Obama for saying that he would negotiate with leaders of hostile nations, including Iran, without preconditions.