I attended a debate between Harvard Prof. Steven Walt and veteran neo-conservative and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Joshua Muravchik at the Nixon Center Thursday evening. Most notable for the unfortunately abbreviated time I was there was Muravchik’s certainty that “if McCain is president, there will be an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.” The way he said this also conveyed that it could well be item number one on McCain’s agenda.
He also asserted that “McCain is by history more of a neo-con than Bush” (no quarrel there) and noted that his service as chair of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a creation and beneficiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), helped steer him in that direction. “I would expect from McCain policies (that) I would like,” he said just before his observation about McCain’s intentions vis-a-vis Iran.
I would have to take Muravchik’s prediction seriously given his long-time perch at AEI, McCain’s favorite foreign-policy think tank, and his long association with some of McCain’s closest advisers, including Robert Kagan with whom he has worked since their Central America days. (Incidentally, Kagan, as well as Abrams, may be vying for the National Security Advisor post in any McCain administration.) Of course, bombing Iran has been a devout and explicit wish on Muravchik’s part for nearly two years if not more, so this may be an example of wishful thinking, but I can’t help but believe his associations give him some real insight on this question. Kagan, however, has supported unconditional talks with Iran if for no other reason than to strengthen the case for eventual military action.