The quintessential McGovern

By Joseph Farah

Remember George McGovern?

I’ll bet John Kerry would like to forget.

McGovern was the 1972 Democratic Party presidential nominee. He lost in what was then the biggest landslide in U.S. election history to Richard Nixon.

McGovern had all kinds of problems in that race, including a vice presidential nominee who had to be dumped because of undisclosed mental health problems. But the biggest obstacle to election facing McGovern was his political platform.

He called for an immediate withdrawal of all forces from Vietnam, with the full support of John Kerry and Bill Clinton, as well as a guaranteed, federally subsidized annual income of $10,000 for every family – whether anyone worked or not.

As the 2004 Democratic National Convention winds down and the campaign for the presidency reaches a new stage, John Kerry probably doesn’t want to think too much about George McGovern.

But he may have to think about George McGovern, because the former senator from South Dakota has a new book out – and it is every bit as controversial as his 1972 campaign promises. This time, he’s not talking about the root causes of crime being poverty. Now he’s found the root cause of terrorism – poverty and America’s support for Israel.

Less well-known about McGovern – and you won’t learn it from his new book, “The Essential America” – is that the author once served as president of the American-Arab Affairs Council, later called the Middle East Policy Council. And his pro-Arab cheerleading hasn’t subsided any over the years.

Here are some choice excerpts:

  • “… I have yet to visit a country anywhere in the world whose rank-and-file citizenry supports the American invasion of Iraq, our embargo of Cuba, and our tight embrace of Israel. These aspects of American policy are seen by others as arrogance and insensitivity toward the world community …”

  • “I believe that our president is too obsessed with the ‘axis of evil’ … If instead of a preoccupation with these small and non-strategic countries, the president would give top priority to settling the Arab-Israeli conflict in an even-handed approach, he would not only serve the cause of peace and justice but might even reduce the terrorism of the Middle East. It has never been a case of one side being ‘right’ and the other wrong.” In a sense, there are two ‘rights’ …”

  • “Americans and our leaders must come to understand that terrorism is driven not only by poverty and injustice, but also by the long-festering Arab-Israeli conflict over the unresolved Palestinian problem … large numbers of settlements on the occupied territory, which, of course, is the nub of the problem …”

  • “Every informed Arab knows that U.S. administrations … have from the creation of Israel in 1948 usually sided with Israel in any dispute with the Arabs. Repeatedly in votes at the United Nations, Israel and the United States have stood alone against the wishes of the world.”

  • “I have long supported Israel. But after years of study and observation of Middle Eastern affairs, I have concluded that such hard-line Israeli leaders as Ariel Sharon … and earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu, are a menace to Middle East Peace. Neither of these men has enjoyed approval in the international community. They are despised by Arabs everywhere. And as their backer and arms supplier, the United States becomes the target of Arab ire. We ignore that anger and resentment at our peril.”

  • “There will be no progress against al-Qaida and terrorist Islamic cells … until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. That is the long-festering antagonism that feeds the terrorist impulse in the Arab world.”

  • “… To most of the people in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America, the central problem is not terrorism; it is poverty combined with injustice … When we add to this anger and desperation or government’s longtime embrace of Israel, the terrorist danger grows for both Israel and the United States.”

  • “Fundamentally, the answer to terrorism is to root out its causes …”

  • “During a recent visit to Detroit, I was told by a group of thoughtful Arab Americans whom I have long respected that if America could broker a fair peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, this would do more to end the terrorist danger from the Middle East than any other step we could take. These were professional people … who carry no malice toward either Israel or the United States … Consider what a refreshing change it would be for the world if the Middle East cauldron of barbed-wire entanglements, suicide bombers, tanks, and helicopter gunships could be replaced by two ancient peoples living side by side along recognized boundaries and sharing the glory of Jerusalem …”

Over and over again throughout his book, McGovern insists that America invited the al-Qaida attack of 2001 by siding with Israel and by perpetuating poverty throughout the Muslim world.

It’s a preposterous notion – but, after all, just what would one expect from George McGovern?

What else would one expect from George McGovern in this presidential election year? An endorsement of John Kerry, of course. When all is said and done, there’s not much difference between the two.