Tuesday :: Nov 6, 2007

How Senator Clinton Alone is So Devastatingly Wrong On Iran


by eriposte

It is quite fascinating to see the commentary of the Reality-Based CommunityTM on Kyl-Lieberman. The latest entry is a generally well-meaning and well thought-out piece by Sam Sedaei at the Huffington Post, someone who has had the benefit of having actually lived in Iran for a long time. Sam's post is predictably titled "Senator Clinton is Wrong on Iran". Let's look at the ways in which she alone is wrong on Iran, because Sam does not criticize Sen. Edwards or Sen. Obama or Sen. Dodd. Naturally, according to the Campaign 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Rule Book, Sen. Clinton is the biggest enabler of Bush-Cheney while valiant progressives like Edwards, Obama and Dodd are working hard to represent the true progressive vision on Iran. (Note that all emphasis in this post is mine).

I. Sedaei:

Military strikes on Iranian nuclear installations are flawed policy for several reasons. While republicans - and now many democrats, including Senator Clinton - claim that Iran's nuclear program is for weapons building purposes, they have presented no evidence to back that claim.
...
Besides, what benefit would a so-called surgical strike on Iran's nuclear installations have for us?....such a strike would have a devastating impact on the under-reported reformist movement within Iran.....Hence, Military strikes would be of little benefit for our security and a colossal mistake in helping to farther the cause of democracy in Iran.

Here is what a Senator whose last name starts with E had to say earlier this year:

Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. For years, the US hasn't done enough to deal with what I have seen as a threat from Iran.....To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table. Let me reiterate -- ALL options must remain on the table...

Here is what a Senator whose last name starts with O had to say previously:

U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama suggested Friday that the United States one day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to keep extremists from getting control of nuclear bombs.
...
Given the continuing war in Iraq, the United States is not in a position to invade Iran, but missile strikes might be a viable option, he said. Obama conceded that such strikes might further strain relations between the U.S. and the Arab world.

"In light of the fact that we're now in Iraq, with all the problems in terms of perceptions about America that have been created, us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in," he said.

"On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse. So I guess my instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran. ... And I hope it doesn't get to that point. But realistically, as I watch how this thing has evolved, I'd be surprised if Iran blinked at this point."

II. Sedaei:

Then there is the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment approach, which labeled Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization." It was extremely unfortunate to see so many senators buy into this administration's justifications for this action as the legislation was an example of everything that has been wrong with Bush's foreign policies.....the fact is that by voting for the legislation, Senator Clinton has managed to squander the possibility of ever having a chance of being taken seriously in diplomacy with the Iranian regime. (Usually when you call a country's army "terrorists," they're not going to want to make deals with you). If there is a State Department rule that requires a country's army to be called "terrorist" in order to enact certain sanctions against that country, then it is that rule that's the problem and must change. Those who support this reckless name-calling approach do not seem to understand its consequences on countries' internal affairs.

Senators who supported the following (in another Bill S.970) include those whose last names start with O and D:

The Secretary of State should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189) and the Secretary of the Treasury should place the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224 (66 Fed. Reg. 186; relating to blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism).

Senator whose last name starts with E - not to mention a Senator whose last name starts with D who was also in the Senate at the time - supported the following even broader designation:

SEC. 5. IRAN.

It is the sense of Congress that the United States should keep Iran on the list of countries who sponsor terrorism, and make no concessions to Iran, until Iran --

(1) demonstrates that it has stopped supporting terrorism; and

(2) cooperates fully with the United States in the investigation into the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia.

However, I do understand that according to the Campaign 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Rule Book, Sen. Clinton is alone to blame for having misguided views on Iran. After all, we are part of the Reality-Based CommunityTM, are we not?

P.S. I am going to reprint part of the comment thread from my post yesterday to show how the Reality-Based CommunityTM is today.

Here's one of the responses I posted:

Space,

You said:

Edwards, wisely, has determined that the Bush-Cheney administration simply cannot be trusted to use military force. He is taking away the keys to the car, as it were. It doesn't matter if Lieberman-Kyl would be benign or even positive given a Edwards or Clinton administration. We have a Bush-Cheney administration and all decisions must be made in that context.
Hillary, clearly, has not made that same determination. And one of the reasons that I do not trust Hillary's judgment, in the slightest, on foreign policy matters, is that she STILL is willing to give Bush and Cheney any wiggle room.

With due respect, Edwards has supported the designation of Iran as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Is he going to retract that support now since Bush and Cheney are in the driver's seat? Nope. He has stated unequivocally that Iran sponsors terrorism in other countries, including Iraq and that these terrorist groups should be shut down. For that, he gets a free pass and he is labeled as "one who is not enabling Bush and Cheney"? :-)

I'm really try to move beyond the spin from the campaigns here to focus on their actual words and deeds. It's easy to buy a campaign's narrative about the campaign. The objective of these posts is to examine whether there is more to it than the campaign's spin.

And another one:

Keith,

You said:

1. On KLA, Taylor Marsh and the "two unnamed" Democratic senators aides are wrong: check the congressional record. Reid tabled for the foreesable future on Sept. 25. On September 26th, it was brought to the floor during the afternoon session as part of a UC Agreement between Biden and Kyle-Lieberman. This was announced at 12:14. The vote on the Biden Amendment occured at 12:16. The vote on KLA occured at 12:44 (the times of the votes can be confirmed at Roll Call).

Your timeline, even if correct, does not in any way prove that the campaigning Senators were not alerted the previous night that the Bill would be brought up to a vote the next afternoon. I have a hard time believing that every other campaigning Senator, who considered it less of an earth-shattering vote than Sen. Obama did, made it a point to know when it was coming up for vote and attended the vote while Sen. Obama who considered it a radical "blank check" couldn't do the same.

You also said:

2. S.970 is dramatically different from KLA, in that it does not suggest that we structure our forces in Iraq to combat the influence of Iran. Also, it actually outlines the diplomatic steps to be taken (including designating IRG a terrorist organization) and specifically states that it is not an authorization for military action. And the Webb amendment says that no funds in the appropriations bill will be used to attack Iran. Obama's Joint Resolution says that no act of Congress authorizes Bush to use offensive military action against Iran.

a) The principal argument offered in public by most critics of KLA is that it plays into the hands of Bush and Cheney through its designation of IRG as a terrorist entity, which has been painted as supporting B-C warmongering against Iran. In your comment you portray that designation as a path to drive greater diplomacy - which is exactly the point Sen. Clinton has been making. So, if you believe that the IRG designation itself is not a problem (since the Obama-supported S.970 says the same thing) and that this designation could be considered part of a diplomacy strategy, then perhaps you can acknowledge that the criticisms of Hillary for that part of KLA are wrong - and perhaps Sen. Obama would be kind enough to slap down others who are criticizing Sen. Clinton for that part of the amendment.

b) KLA does not in any way state that it authorizes military action against Iran, plus Sen. Webb/Clinton et al. have sponsored a separate Bill requiring Congressional approval for any military action against Iran and others have spoken out strongly that KLA is not in any way authorizing an attack against Iran.

c) KLA does not even directly suggest that the US Government should structure the presence of the US military in Iraq to act against Iranian-sponsored terrorism within Iraq. Even if it does, this is an absurdly silly issue to get hot over because the US Government is *already* acting against Iranian-sponsored terrorism inside Iraq! We have ~160,000 military members in Iraq and guess what, they are fighting Iranian sponsored terrorism within Iraq *today*!

d) KLA says it is in the interests of the US to prevent Iran from completely destabilizing Iraq through its terrorism - it doesn't say that the way to do this is by invading Iran. This is a garden variety proclamation that every Democrat has been making or is standing behind. I can bet you that neither Obama nor Biden nor Dodd will come out tomorrow and claim that it is acceptable to let Iran destabilize Iraq.

e) KLA explicitly includes statements within the "Sense of the Senate" - including a key extract from Sec. Gates' testimony to Congress - which call out the fact that we need to continue to use diplomacy as the most favored path to address the Iran issue.

f) The main problem I have with KLA has nothing to do with a war with Iran - it is simply seen as saber-rattling by people within Iran and may strengthen the extremists within Iran. However, this type of saber-rattling is happening through the words of Obama and Edwards as well when they talk about keeping military options open to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat or talk about how to clamp down on Iranian sponsored terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere.

I wish people actually read the final version of KLA before making it out to be something as catastrophic as the 2002 Iraq bill. This is campaign 2008 rhetoric, and nothing to do with someone enabling a war against Iran.

That's it for now. I'm sure Sen. Clinton will be declaring more wars against other countries in the coming days and weeks, so it's going to be a busy primary season.

eriposte :: 8:25 AM :: Comments (29) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!