"U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons," [_____] told a crowd of Israel supporters. "In dealing with this threat ... no option can be taken off the table."
Not Condoleeza Rice. Not Dick Cheney. Not George W. Bush. That was Hillary Clinton. As this young campaign for president unfolds, Hillary Clinton is emerging as her party's war candidate. She's been unwilling or unable to admit that her early support for the Iraq war -- support that survived far longer than most people would've liked -- was wrong and seems to be buying the administration line that Iran is a looming nuclear threat.
To see Iran this way requires a redefinition of the word 'looming,' making it synonymous with 'about the same amount of time it takes to make good scotch.' A recent National Intelligence Review put Iran's ability to create a weapon about a decade in the future. Plenty of time to find a diplomatic solution. But, in a time when we have no friends in muslim middle east, Clinton seems intent on keeping enemies.
Hillary Clinton has a reputation, entirely unearned, of being extremely liberal. This is mostly propaganda from right wing talk show hosts and Clinton haters in print. Her voting record puts her among the more conservative members of the Democratic Party -- she differs from Joe Leiberman mainly in that she isn't committed to fighting the Iraq war until the sun burns out. She does want to end the war in Iraq and she does talk about what sounds like phased withdrawal. When she talks about Iran, however, she sounds like a member of the Bush administration.
The best way to deal with Iran would begin with two steps:
1.) Offer to help Iran with a refugee crisis we've caused. The Iraq war has sent literally hundreds of thousands of people into Iran. Iran is being overwhelmed with other nations' problems. They had absolutely zero to do with our beef with Saddam -- there's no reason why they should have to pay for our mistakes.
2.) Aid Iran in seeking sources of energy. The fact of the matter is that Iran has reached peak oil and reserves are drying up. There may be good reason that Iran is looking to develop nuclear technology. According to The National Academy of Sciences, the country's experiencing a rapid decline in oil revenues and those revenues could be virtually zero by 2015. There's no downside to helping Iran here. If their program is peaceful, then we've created a partnership with one more nation in the middle east. If, on the other hand, the program isn't peaceful, then we've called their bluff and they'll have to admit that their interest is in a weapon -- the negotiating advantage becomes ours.
Hillary's 'get tough' talk may play well with some voters, but it will turn off a huge section of the democratic base. There's no way that a group tired of one war in the middle east will turn around and say, "Huzzah for another war in the middle east!" There is discontent among the antiwar left.
Sen. Clinton has drawn the line in the sand over Iraq. She will not admit that her vote to authorize Bush to use military force in a unilateral, unprovoked war based on lies was a mistake. She is open to a military strike on Iran. Her latest message to voters: "There are others to choose from." Anti-war voters already know that, and are lining up behind candidates Barack Obama, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and, perhaps before long, Ralph Nader.
Hillary Clinton's stance on Iran is pretty much exactly wrong. Take a look from Iran's point of view; the US made a lot of noise about Iraq and WMD, Iraq didn't have WMD, so we invaded and Saddam swung. On the other hand, the US made a lot of noise about N. Korea and WMD, N. Korea did have WMD, so they get a bunch of aid and millions of gallons of fuel oil. Recent history shows that if you get into an argument with the US over WMD, you'd damned well better have some. If we want to avoid war with Iran, a good way to start would be to tell Iran that we want to avoid war -- saber rattling doesn't actually accomplish anything in that department. Making more international partners and repairing the US reputation in the world should be foreign policy job one for the next president.
What about Ahmadinejhad? He says crazy things and denies the holocaust. I don't know about Kim Jong Il's beliefs about the holocaust, but he's said crazy things and we're dealing with him. If we limit our dealings to nations with leaders who only say nice things, we'd only deal with nations we have no problem with. That's not much of a foreign policy -- that's ignoring reality.
Besides, Ahmadinejhad's the head of Iran in much the same way that Mickey Mouse is the head of Disneyland. We should make it clear that we're not too concerned with what Iran's PR tool says.
If we set up Iran to be the new Emmanuel Goldberg, they're going to be nuclear before we're done with our ten minutes' hate. Hillary Clinton needs to recognize that using real live nations as strawmen has had disastrous consequences in very recent history. She needs to recognize that the US has defined itself by its enemies for way too long and we need to start measuring ourselves by our friends.
Unless Clinton addresses the concerns that the antiwar left have about her, she's not getting their vote. So far, she's seems unwilling to do that.