McCain sides with Netanyahu against top US general

U.S. Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference in Tripoli February 22, 2012 (Reuters / Anis Mili)
When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu charged US General Martin Dempsey as a puppet of Iran this week, two top-ranking US lawmakers were also visiting abroad. Neither Senators John McCain nor Lindsey Graham came to refute those claims, however.

Responding to US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey’s reasoning that a strike on Iran would be “destabilizing” for peace talks and “not prudent” for America’s efforts, PM Binyamin Netanyahu critiqued the respected military official this week as unwilling to aid the allied Israel. Dempsey’s comments, said the prime minister, “served the Iranians” and would only worsen international relations when all parties are attempting a resolution for the conflict.

Israel and neighboring Iran are currently at odds, and some members of the American intelligence community are concerned that Tehran could be working towards procuring a nuclear warhead. President Obama has publically expressed resolving the matter with words, to which Israel has charged him with being “hesitant” and have hinted at attacking their enemy themselves. Over the weekend, Gen. Dempsey added that a US-led attack would not resolve the matter and said that an immediate strike “wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives.”

Netanyahu was fast to come down on Dempsey from Israel. Also on location, however, were Senators McCain and Graham, who were quick to comment on the back-and-forth, all while failing to come to the defense of the general.

Siding separately from Dempsey, McCain told reporters in Jerusalem on Tuesday that “There should be no daylight between America and Israel in our assessment of the [Iranian] threat.”

“Unfortunately there clearly is some,” added the Senator.

The remarks came only hours after the senator sat down with Netanyahu, who just earlier had called Dempsey a servant of Iran.

McCain added that the differences between how Washington and Jerusalem view Iran has caused “significant tension,” and according to the senator, “there is very little doubt that Iran has so far been undeterred to get nuclear weapons.” As rumors abound, however, there has yet to be any confirmation as to the progress of the alleged nuke procurement.

Responding to the disagreement between allies, McCain said, “obviously it’s not helpful if there is a well-publicized tension between the US and Israel. We would like to see the United States and Israel agree on course of action that will lead us toward a goal we both share.” Although the US has not taken Israel’s heed to hit Iran yet, Washington currently contributes around $3 billion annually to Jerusalem.

When Senator Lindsey Graham was asked for his input, he remarked from overseas "I admire General Dempsey,” but was reluctant to defend his allegation of a strike be destabilizing. "People are giving Israel a lot of advice here lately from America,” said Graham. “I just want to tell our Israeli friends that my advice to you is never lose control of your destiny. Never allow a situation to develop that would destroy the Jewish state."