Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Hillary Clinton at AIPAC — Then and Now

When Hillary Clinton appeared at AIPAC in 2008, she told the conference that one of her guiding principles was a “simple one; no nuclear weapons for Iran.”

Iran simply cannot be allowed to continue its current behavior and I wish to underscore, I believe that we are further behind in constraining Iran today because of the failed policies of President Bush than we would have been had we taken a much more aggressive engagement course earlier. That is why it is imperative that we get both tough and smart about dealing with Iran before it is too late.

The Obama administration has now spent 15 months allowing Iran to continue its “current behavior.” The “tough and smart” engagement has consisted of an endlessly outstretched hand, combined with self-congratulatory statements about how “isolated” the failed engagement has made Iran. Sanctions that no one expects to be “crippling” are months off, and it is not clear what happens after that.

In his own 2008 AIPAC address, Barack Obama said that we had “no time to waste” and promised to use “all elements of American power to pressure Iran.” The key sentence in his prepared text was “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” – a sentence that generated a standing ovation because, in the speech as delivered, Obama repeated the word “everything” three times:

I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weaponeverything. [emphasis added]

Secretary of State Clinton’s speech this morning included a statement that the U.S. is “determined” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but as Jen notes, the speech included no reference to “all options” remaining on the table, much less the promise that Obama previously made, which was that every option will be used if necessary.

At yesterday’s Roundtable on Foreign Policy, there was the following exchange between moderator Dan Senor, Dr. Robert Kagan, and Senator Evan Bayh:

Dan Senor: Rob, there has been an attempt at engagement for — with Iran now for a year. The results speak for themselves. What are President Obama’s policy options for Iran?

Dr. Robert Kagan: Dan, the president came to office, in my estimation, believing that the key problem with Iran was Iran’s isolation, and you solve the isolation problem through engagement. Well, we figured out pretty early on that that was a mis-analysis, that the key problem was that Iran really wants to have a nuclear bomb. And if that’s the problem, then you need a different strategy, and there are three necessary elements to that strategy. One is diplomacy, second is economic sanctions, and third is a credible threat of force that’s — hovers in the background to compel the Iranians to take seriously the sanctions and the diplomacy. (Applause.)

Now — now, to — to the credit of the president, he has moved from a reliance solely on engagement to endorsing significant, although not yet crippling, sanctions. We’re slow. It’s taking too long. They won’t be comprehensive enough, but most importantly, they’re unlikely to be effective without the third part. ….

Dan Senor: Senator Bayh, is — is that credible threat of force there? The — at — at least the — the projection of it.

Sen. Evan Bayh: I’m not sure it’s there in the minds of the Iranians right now, but it needs to be there. …

So I — I agree entirely with what Rob said, and if you want to just be clear-eyed and realistic about this, we need to go with aggressive sanctions that are likely to hurt the regime, particularly the revolutionary guards. But you — you want to be honest about it, that’s unlikely to work.

The absence in Secretary Clinton’s speech of any sense of urgency, or of a possible Plan C, will be noted by those looking for something more significant than a rhetorical expression of “determination.”


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.