Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding her voice in the world of foreign affairs -- and it's the sound of hawk-speak, filled with warnings.
She has warned that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship. She is trying to persuade U.S. allies to support stronger sanctions against Tehran.
There's no sign that the U.S. is about to invade Iran but there's tons of speculation that the Pentagon has been tasked to figure out what bunker-buster bombs would do to Iran's underground nuclear industry and whether such an attack would help or hinder efforts to neutralize Iran as a nuclear threat.
While a massive bombing would certainly delay Iran's nuclear development, it would not stop it. The cost of such a military option would be grave: Iran's hard-liners would be fortified politically; and anti-American terrorists everywhere would see such an attack as justifying their own violence.
There's not much doubt that Iran is heading toward nuclear weapons. Iran's neighbors have those terrible devices and so the Iranians ask: Why not us, too?
Clinton was tough on the Palestinians during her tour in the region. She said the Palestinians have to make more "concessions" to the occupier to get peace talks going.
The word peace has not been exalted in the White House for years and neither President Barack Obama nor his secretary of state seems to aspire to it. They fret that some critic somewhere will accuse the administration of being "soft."
Democrats continue to labor to prove they are tough, tough, tough, so that they don't have to deal with a modern version of the old "Who lost China?" rant.
The rhetoric from the Obama administration is framed in terms of "winning" and "victory" while a war-weary nation searches for an end to the war in Afghanistan, which has been going on for nine years and is gaining new momentum in the form of thousands of additional American troops being sent there.
On the Israeli-Palestinian front, former Sen. George Mitchell has been shuttling back and forth with not much success in trying to bring leaders from both sides to the peace table. Obama was not much help in breaking the stalemate when he buckled to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's refusal to impose a total freeze on settlement building. Instead, the Israeli leader offered a 10-month halt in expanding settlements. Such settlements are illegal under international law.
Unlike his domestic proposals where the President faces so much Republican opposition, Obama is in sync with the GOP in treading along the belligerent footsteps of his predecessor.
His hawkish secretary of state takes her cues from the boss.