The Campaign Spot

The Democrats, Except Hillary, See Iran Sanctions as Step to War

Most Democratic presidential candidates outright oppose the U.S. economic sanctions against Iran yesterday. One exception? Hillary Clinton.

“We must work to check Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support of terrorism, and the sanctions announced today strengthen America’s diplomatic hand in that regard.  The Bush Administration should use this opportunity to finally engage in robust diplomacy to achieve our objective of ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program, while also averting military action.  That is the policy I support.”  (Full statement below.)

Most vocal in the opposition camp, John Edwards:

“Today, George Bush and Dick Cheney again rattled the sabers in their march toward military action against Iran. The Bush Administration has been making plans to attack Iran for many months. At this critical moment, we need strong leadership to stand against George Bush’s dangerous ‘preventive war’ policy, which makes force the first option, not the last.

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“I learned a clear lesson from the lead up to the Iraq War in 2002: if you give this president an inch, he will take a mile – and launch a war. Senator Clinton apparently learned a different lesson. Instead of blocking George Bush’s new march to war, Senator Clinton and others are enabling him once again.
“I have called for strong, capable diplomacy to deal with the challenge of Iran, and a carrots and sticks strategy aimed at results–not the Bush/Cheney path, which would escalate tensions, enable attacks, and lead to unintended consequences.
“The New Yorker recently reported that one reason the administration has not yet attacked Iran is because public opinion has turned against such a course. Senator Clinton’s actions undermine the American people’s opposition to war with Iran. Today’s advancement of the Bush strategy on Iran shows how much we need strong opposition on this issue. I learned my lesson the hard way in 2002, but it appears that others still have some learning to do.”

Also in the clear opposition camp, Chris Dodd:

“I recognize the obvious threat a nuclear Iran poses to the region and beyond, and that we must stop Iran’s continued support for international terrorism.
“Unfortunately, the action taken by the Administration today comes in the context of escalating rhetoric and drumbeat to military action against Iran.
“I am deeply concerned that once again the President is opting for military action as a first resort.
“The glaring omission of any new diplomatic measures by the President today is the reason I voted, and urged my colleagues to vote, against the Kyl -Lieberman resolution on September 26.
“The aggressive actions taken today by the Administration absent any corresponding diplomatic action is exactly what we all should have known was coming when we considered our vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, and smacks, frankly, of a dangerous step toward armed confrontation with Iran.”

…and Obama hasn’t said anything about these sanctions yet, although he’s continuing to accuse Hillary of voting for war in the Kyl-Lieberman amendment.
Hillary’s full statement:

“We must use all the tools at our disposal to address the serious challenge posed by Iran, including diplomacy, economic pressure, and sanctions.

 

“I believe that a policy of diplomacy backed by economic pressure is the best way to check Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons program and stop its support of terrorism, and the best way to avert a war.  That’s why I took to the Senate floor last February and warned the President not to take military action against Iran without going to Congress first and why I’ve co-sponsored Senator Webb’s legislation to make that the law of the land.  I’ve been concerned for a long time over George Bush’s saber rattling and belligerence toward Iran.

 

“We must work to check Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support of terrorism, and the sanctions announced today strengthen America’s diplomatic hand in that regard.  The Bush Administration should use this opportunity to finally engage in robust diplomacy to achieve our objective of ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program, while also averting military action.  That is the policy I support.”

 

Judging from this rhetoric, many Democratic primary voters see any step that hints of negative consequences to Iran as “saber-rattling” and to be avoided at all costs. Edwards and Dodd, needing all the help they can get and every contrast with Hillary that they can get, have to treat economic pressure on Iran as acts of war. Hillary, with the massive leads in polls, can afford to irk the Democratic base by supporting the step, while still lamenting that the Bush administration hasn’t sat down for tea with Mahmoud “No-Gays-Exist-In-My-Country” Ahmadinejad.

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