Jun 7, 2009 12:50 pm


There are times I wish for creative ambiguity. Watching Hillary Clinton dial back not only her own campaign assertion but also her own envoy's recommendation that the US would make clear to Iran that it would retaliate militarily against an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, I wished George Stephanopoulos had not stiven so hard for clarity.

Indeed, his follow up questions merely led Hillary to point out that American commitments to Israel are not in the same league as her commitment to NATO but on par with her commitments to"alliances and understandings with other nations." Take that to the bank. I am sure Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and their allies are sure to do so.

Luckily, most Israelis, and, certainly Netanyahu, understand as much. The Israeli election led Olmert to miss the opportunity of acting during the last days of the Bush administration. No Israeli action can be expected prior to the Iranian elections. Then, it's going to be high noon. For when all said and done, the Clinton administration's appeasement policy led to 9/11 and the Obama administration's policy is following the same trajectory.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Your own envoy Dennis Ross has said one way to strengthen the position the United States going into these negotiations is to make it very clear that if Iran used nuclear weapons against Israel or any U.S. ally, that would be met as an attack on the United States -- full response. Now, that was your position during the campaign, as well.

Is it U.S. policy now?

CLINTON: I think it is U.S. policy to the extent that we have alliances and understandings with a number of nations. They may not be formal as it is with NATO, but, I don't think there is any doubt in anyone's mind that were Israel to suffer a nuclear attack by Iran, there would be retaliation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: By the United States?

CLINTON: Well, I think there would be retaliation. (meaningful pause)

And I think part of what is clear is we want to avoid a Middle East arms race which leads to nuclear weapons being in the possession of other countries in the Middle East. And we want to make clear that there are consequences and costs. Now, let me just put it this way. If Iran is seeking security, if they believe -- and you know, you have to put yourself into the shoes of the other party when you negotiate -- if they believe that the United States might attack them the way that we did attack Iraq, for example --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Before they attack, as a first strike.

CLINTON: That's right, as a first strike. Or, they might have some other enemies that would do that to them. Part of what we have to make clear to the Iranians is that their pursuit of nuclear weapons will actually trigger greater insecurity because right now, many of the nations in the neighborhood, as you know very well --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because Israel will strike before they can finish.

CLINTON: Well, but not only that. I mean, other countries -- other Arab countries are deeply concerned about Iran having nuclear weapons. So, does Iran want to face a battery of nuclear weapons countries -- (CROSSTALK)

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