Clinton: No options are off the table.
Kevin Drum asked why can't we have a serious discussion about what a Democratic national security policy would be. I too would love to see what that would look like. Because, frankly, I'm worried that many of our Democratic leaders haven't learned enough from the excesses and failures of Bush. And it bothers me that a fantastically wicked-smart lady like Hillary Clinton can be so wrong on one of the key moral issues of our time.
Last week, Amy Goodman talked to a couple of the people who asked Clinton questions about Iraq and Iran at her stops in New Hampshire. It is obvious now that Clinton refuses to say her vote giving Bush authorization to attack Iraq was wrong or a mistake. Perhaps she doesn't understand that one reason she is getting this question is because some of us seriously need to understand what she learned from that vote, because if she can't see the mistake with that vote, how can we trust her to make better decisions in the future? What will she do to make sure she is not conned again by people pushing lies? Especially in matters of war?
But even worse that than vote is the other question Clinton has been tone deaf in answering. When asked about her statements at the AIPAC conference about Iran, Hillary actually sounds as hawkish and as divorced from reality as Bush or Joe Lieberman.
ANNE MILLER: Yeah, over the weekend Senator Clinton spoke in Berlin, Concord and Keene, and there were members of our community who were attending obviously all of those events. I went to hear Senator Clinton speak in Concord and was not called on during the meeting, but afterwards approached the Senator and asked her about the comments that she had made at the AIPAC meeting earlier in the week and asked her if she really would leave all options on the table and how could she threaten, in effect, other countries' children with nuclear genocide. She looked me right in the eye, and she said, "No options are off the table. We cannot abide by a nuclear-armed Iran. It would be an existential threat to the United States."
And what I found really interesting in that comment, in that use of the word "existential," is that isn’t a word that’s used very much in US political discourse, but it is used in Israel's political discourse. And that’s of deep concern to me that we have a Democratic presidential candidate who is a militarist of this nature and that she isn’t coming out and saying we need strong diplomatic action with Iran, which is really the only answer. There are no military solutions with respect to Iran that I can see.
No options are off the table.
So how should one parse this sentence? Should one think that she believes that a preemptive attack against Iran is okay? Does this mean she endorses Bush's policy? How about a nuclear attack? After all, according to Seymour Hersh, Bush was rather enamored with the idea of using nuclear bunker busters until the military leadership made it clear that they thought that particular option should be off the table. How about a massive air strike on Iran to "disrupt their government?" What it if killed 10% of the Iranian population? Or 30%? Or 50%? Are there any options that would be considered too extreme?
The terminology "no options off the table" is extremely worrying. Because it says one will consider doing anything, including things that would damn your soul to hell because nothing is too awful to do to keep you from having your way. It's what the most selfish dictators believe. It's what allows the most horrific actions to be done. Is this what she supports?
Our country has gone through more than two centuries putting lots of options off the table, because we believed that there are things that are too terrible to use. We decided after World War II that we would never again release nuclear bombs except in reaction to a nuclear strike on us. We decided that we would not use them because to use them would be wrong.
As I noted earlier, George Washington was a man who understood that decent and honorable people do not allow the outrages and brutality of others to dictate your actions. Our country was fortunate to have a person of his character help birth our government. Today, it is hard to find this type of character in our current leadership. When Clinton refuses to take any options off the table, she shows she does not understand what Washington knew: you are what you are willing to do. And if you are willing to use nuclear weapons, you are no longer human, but a monster. And we don't need anymore monsters as president.
Furthermore, does she really believe that Iran is an existential threat to the United States? This is just risible. The United States, indeed the world, does have an existential threat. That threat is global warming. And to waste more time in worrying about Iran and the so-called threat to our existence is simply beyond the pale. We cannot afford any more "leaders" who cannot tell the difference between a serious concern and an existential danger. What will it take for someone like Hillary Clinton to recognize to be a real leader, she cannot allow herself to be trapped in these false dichotomies. Strength does not come from mouthing the war cries of the hawks, it comes from having enough courage and grounding in ethics to boldly state there are some options that are off the table and to really understand what is a real "existential" threat to our country. Can Hillary Clinton rise to the challenge?