Clinton Wraps Last-Minute Endorsement of Iran Deal with Hawkish Threats of Military Force
Journalists and foreign policy analysts say speech serves as a reminder to voters that Clinton is 'prepared for war'
In a speech addressing the pending Iran nuclear agreement on Wednesday, presidential hopeful and former Sectary of State Hillary Clinton provided a glimpse into the possible militaristic future of the United States if, as she said, "I am in the White House."
Though she endorsed the deal, which seeks to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon by forcing controls onto the country's nuclear energy program, Clinton vowed that she would do so with skepticism and—as many have pointed out—an eye on a military alternative.
"The outcome of the deal in Congress is no longer in much doubt," she said, speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., "so we've got to start looking ahead as to what's next: enforcing the deal, deter Iran and its proxies, and strengthening our allies," which was largely in reference to neighboring Israel.
Clinton continued saying that she "understands the skepticism" around the deal, and said that she too is not convinced. "There is absolutely no reason to trust Iran," she said.
"This is not the start of some larger diplomatic opening," she added.
During the address, she made it clear that if Iran "cheats" on the agreement she "will not hesitate to take military action."
She said: "Iranians and the world need to understand that we will act decisively if needed. So here's my message: The United States will never allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon. As president I will take whatever actions are necessary to protect the United States and our allies. I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon."
Responding to her comments, Middle East political analyst and founder of Wide Asleep in America Nima Shiraz wrote:
A shameful speech, bristling with threats, lies, and fake bravado from a person who loves bombing the Middle East. https://t.co/v3DFXWNJpR— Nima Shirazi (@WideAsleepNima) September 9, 2015
Throughout the speech, Clinton repeated what she described as Iran's "malicious activity"—including allegedly supporting terrorism and threatening to annihilate "our ally and friend" Israel—and said what she would do to counter the broader issue of "Iran's bad behavior across the region."
If elected, Clinton vowed to "deepen America's unshakeable commitment to Israel's security" by "guaranteeing Israel's qualitative military edge" in the Middle East. To do so, she said she would strengthen their missile defense system, and increase military support and intelligence sharing.
In regards to Clinton's comments on Israel, foreign policy analyst Ali Gharib quipped:
Clinton: "I would not support this agreement for one second if I thought it put Israel in danger." // America second!— Ali Gharib (@Ali_Gharib) September 9, 2015
As president, Clinton also said she would "sustain a robust military presence in the Persian Gulf," increase intelligence sharing and military support for Gulf allies, and expand the use of "cyber attacks" and other "non traditional attacks." As for the conflict in Syria, Clinton called for a "meaningful increase" in the effort to train and equipment moderate Syrian rebels.
All to which investigative reporter and Intercept editor Glenn Greenwald responded:
She's really letting her militarism flag fly proud this morning.... https://t.co/NeI3kFhjA1— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 9, 2015
Dissecting her comments afterwards on MSNBC, Steve Clemons, Washington editor of The Atlantic, said the speech struck a very "neoconservative" tone.
"This is Hillary Clinton reminding a lot of people in the Democratic base what they used to be worried about her, that this is a candidate who's clutch is very much in the position of being prepared for war, being prepared for conflict, a very dark, muscular side of Hillary Clinton," Clemons said.
Similarly, Guardian reporter Trevor Timm added:
Today's speech is a reminder that Hillary Clinton is as pro-war—or more so—than many of the Republican candidates http://t.co/FfhN73vuT5— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) September 9, 2015
In contrast, Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) also gave a speech Wednesday during which he, too, threw his support behind the Iran deal, likening critics of it to those who supported the Iraq War in 2003.
"It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner," he said in prepared remarks on the Senate floor. "I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military engagement—especially after nearly 14 years of ill-conceived and disastrous military engagements in the region."