From CBS News' John Bentley:
Economic and financial sanctions are the best way to deal with Iran – not sitting down for a talk with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, John McCain said at the at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference today. "The idea that they now seek nuclear weapons because we refuse to engage in presidential-level talks is a serious misreading of history," McCain said, an obvious criticism of Barack Obama's willingness to speak with the Iranian president. "The Clinton administration even lifted some sanctions, and Secretary Albright apologized for American actions going back to the 1950s. But even under President Khatami – a man by all accounts less radical than the current president – Iran rejected these overtures."
McCain compared the sanctions to the way several nations dealt with South Africa to try and end apartheid several years ago. "We should privatize the sanctions against Iran by launching a worldwide divestment campaign," he said. "As more people, businesses, pension funds, and financial institutions across the world divest from companies doing business with Iran, the radical elite who run that country will become even more unpopular than they are already."
Pointing out that he supported the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, which would have designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, McCain criticized Barack Obama for calling the amendment "reckless…saber-rattling." "Over three-quarters of the Senate supported this obvious step, but not Senator Obama," McCain said. "He opposed this resolution because its support for countering Iranian influence in Iraq was, he said, a 'wrong message not only to the world, but also to the region.' But here, too, he is mistaken. Holding Iran's influence in check, and holding a terrorist organization accountable, sends exactly the right message – to Iran, to the region and to the world."
Obama's campaign responded by linking McCain's stance to that of President Bush and the war in Iraq. "John McCain stubbornly insists on continuing a dangerous and failed foreign policy that has clearly made the United States and Israel less secure," said Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan. "Most importantly, the war in Iraq that John McCain supported and promises to continue indefinitely has done more to dramatically strengthen and embolden Iran than anything in a generation."
McCain continues to argue that the situation in Iraq is improving, despite Obama's opposition to the surge strategy. "It was the strategy he predicted would fail, when he voted cut off funds for our forces in Iraq," McCain said. "He now says he intends to withdraw combat troops from Iraq – one to two brigades per month until they are all removed. He will do so regardless of the conditions in Iraq, regardless of the consequences for our national security, regardless of Israel's security, and in disregard of the best advice of our commanders on the ground."