Just when some folks might have been thinking that Hillary Clinton had been magically transformed into an actual opponent of the neocon Empire project, what with her outrageous suggestion that the Pentagon might consider talking with Congress about contingency plans for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, she and her campaign went and manufactured a controversy about whether or not the U.S. should talk to countries that it doesn't like, scoring points with the Washington punditry but moving our country further away from a sane foreign policy.Just when some folks might have thought that Barack Obama was a real alternative, given his full-throated defense of the commonsense notion that the U.S. should, in fact, talk to countries that it doesn't like, he tries to burnish his Empire credentials in response to the attacks by Hillary's people by saying that the U.S. should invade Pakistan, even without the Pakistani government's permission. Never mind that (a) this would be a blatant violation of international law (b) it could go very, very badly (c) lots of innocent people would die and (d) such statements actually undermine the Pakistani government's efforts to suppress violent Islamic militancy.
But here's a bright spot: Edwards said something reasonable about Iran. He criticized the Bush Administration's proposal for a massive new arms sales package in the Middle East, saying it would give Iran an incentive to strengthen its nuclear program:
Edwards said the arms deal could backfire by giving Iran an incentive to build its nuclear strength. "They have to try to offset the conventional arms deficiencies that they're faced with," Edwards said. "That's the whole problem with this idea that you deal with these things in terms of what's helpful at the moment instead of what needs to be done over the long term."
Unlike most of official Washington, he also called foul on the Bush administration's coddling of Saudi Arabia -- arguably playing a far more disruptive role in Iraq than the government of Iran, which -- unlike the Saudis -- is actually allied with the same people in Iraq that the U.S. is allied with:
Edwards said the United States should require the Saudi government to shut down the movement of terrorists across its borders, help stabilize the Iraqi government and participate more seriously in regional security before they are offered weapons. "Whether it's Iraq or terrorism, the Saudis have fallen way short of what they need to be doing," the 2004 vice presidential nominee told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "And the Bush administration's response is to sell them $20 billion worth of arms, which is short-term and convenient and not what the United States should be doing."
Here's hoping that Edwards doesn't endure a torrent of Washington pundit abuse for daring to be the voice of reason.
Robert Naiman is Senior Policy Analyst and National Coordinator at Just Foreign Policy.