John McCain’s Smarmy Smile Hides Deadly Fangs

John McCain is not just a dotty “war hero” who can’t remember where Iraq is on the map or when Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, who confuses Suni with Shia and Somalia with the Sudan. This old dude with the smarmy smile is dangerous!

chavezAs I write this, Bolivia has expelled the U.S. ambassador because of persistent American incitement of rebellion in that country. Venezuela’s Chávez (photo at left), who has long complained of U.S. trouble-making also expelled the U.S. ambassador in sympathy with Bolivia. And even tiny Honduras has entered the fray by delaying accreditation of its U.S. ambassador. Meanwhile, America is involved in a game of brinkmanship with Russia, triggered by U.S. interference in Georgia.

And whose dumpy silhouette do I see in the shadows of these clandestine operations? John Sidney McCain’s. As I found out recently, thanks to Jamaican columnist John Maxwell, McCain is the chairman of the International Republican Institute, a taxpayer-funded but privately operated organization that promotes and finances subversive operations in foreign countries as part of a rightist global agenda.

What do I mean by “rightist”? I mean a political philosophy aligned with global corporate interests, which supports dictatorships friendly to unchecked “free enterprise,” and which actively seeks to overthrow democratically elected heads of state who do anything that global corporations don’t like. You can take it from me that McCain’s IRI is mixed up in Georgia, Venezuela, Bolivia and other foreign countries plagued by unrest. Or you can browse the Web yourself and see what you find.

The mainstream media – for reasons that I cannot imagine – steadfastly refuse to expose the dark side of this initiative. Instead, American media paint as “left-wing” any government that refuses to do the bidding of global corporations. I suppose that is assumed to legitimize subversion by U.S. agencies. Here’s a mild-mannered Associated Press report on McCain’s involvement in the IRI:

WASHINGTON – Republican John McCain can claim the most eclectic overseas portfolio among presidential candidates: He has ties to a Cambodian reality TV show, a Bolivian law-and-order guide and rock concerts in the former Soviet Union.

McCain seldom mentions his role as chairman of the International Republican Institute. But it has provided a forum to make him known to world leaders – he addressed top European Union officials in Brussels, Belgium, last year on trans-Atlantic issues, for example – and a way to observe firsthand the politics of other countries. It’s the kind of foreign policy expertise McCain says his GOP rivals lack.

The group, funded by taxpayer and private money, is active in dozens of countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

The institute was created in 1983 during the Cold War and made the Arizona senator chairman of its board in January 1993. McCain has said U.S. foreign policy should promote democracy abroad.

“He’s a big history buff, and I think he thought that it was a good idea that there be proposed in these countries an alternative to what the Soviets were offering,” says institute president Lorne Craner, a former State Department assistant secretary whose father was a prisoner of war in Vietnam with McCain.

The group didn’t disappear with the Soviet collapse. It gets most of its money from the U.S. government – about $78 million in its 2006 budget year. In addition, it raised at least $1 million from companies, lobbying groups and foundations and $208,745 from individuals last year.

An array of sources on the Web, however, tell a different story. According to the Council for Hemispheric Affairs:

The International Republican Institute’s ostensible democracy-building mission serves only as a screen for its energetic and unscrupulous promotion of an ultraconservative Republican foreign policy agenda. The IRI is more a cloak-and-dagger operation than a conventional research group. Over the past five years the organization has aligned itself with the most pro-U.S. and some of the most antidemocratic factions in both Venezuela and Haiti and contributed to the fomenting of coups against leftist presidents Hugo Chavez and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, all the while claiming to be engaging in “party building” and “educational seminars.” At the same time, the Institute’s Cuba program is a blatant attempt to funnel taxpayer funds to boondoggle programs of some of the most hardline factions of the Cuban-American community, who have long been a crucial pillar of support for the Republican party, especially in Florida.

Look, I am no Communist. I believe that governments should create a climate in which business can prosper. Pro-business policies can produce benefits for everybody. But I don’t think American agencies have the moral right to meddle in the affairs of other countries unless there is hard evidence that those countries pose an imminent danger to Americans. Whether the American government agrees with them or not, I think democratically elected governments have a right to pursue their domestic policies in peace. How unreasonable is that?


It is especially deplorable when meddling by agencies such as the International Republican Institute and its umbrella group, the National Endowment for Democracy, provokes so much resentment against America that Americans are placed in danger. This heightened resentment increases the influence of the enemies of America. For example, Bolivia’s Evo Morales has embraced Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (photo at left), and Russia grows ever closer to Venezuela.

Even if you can swallow McCain’s dismal voting record on domestic issues without choking, you cannot afford to ignore the danger posed by his foreign policies. His threat of a filibuster to block an increase in America’s minimum wage, his relentless opposition to equal pay for women and his pandering to evangelical zealots are compelling reasons to keep him out of the White House. But I am more frightened by his stubborn fixation on remaining in Iraq, his eagerness to bomb Iran and his willingness to plunge America into a war with Russia. And, scariest of all is his involvement in a shadowy organization that creeps about the globe spreading deadly political unrest.