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If Hillary Doesn’t Back Obama on Iran

If she doesn't, progressive Democrats will need to find another candidate
by M.J. Rosenberg

Jan 29, 2014 | Foreign Policy


There can be little doubt that Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 nomination for president because she voted to authorize the Iraq War. If she had opposed it, there would have been no rationale for the Obama candidacy. It is likely that she, not President Obama, would now be in the White House.

It seems crazy. But Clinton might see history repeat itself.

Today, Obama’s effort to achieve a peaceful resolution of our differences with Iran through diplomacy and not war is under serious attack by the same neoconservative claque that promoted the Iraq War. Almost a veto-proof majority of senators is supporting new Iran sanctions that would, if implemented, almost surely cause the Iranians to walk away from the negotiating table. According to the White House, that would greatly increase the chances for war.

Hopefully, she will support Obama and make clear that the United States will pursue a diplomatic solution with Iran.

Last night, in his State of the Union address, Obama made clear that he will veto any new Iran sanctions so long as there is a chance that negotiations could succeed. His language was strong, leaving no doubt that he views the new sanctions bill as dangerous to U.S. interests:

But let me be clear: If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

Obama’s forcefulness on this issue is good news. It couldn’t be more obvious that the last thing he wants in the remainder of his term is another war.

But where is his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? So far she has had nothing to say about the Congressional initiative to block Obama’s Iran diplomacy. But she has to know that if she forcefully supported what Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are trying to do, unsure Democrats would likely follow her lead.

But where is she? I suspect that she is doing what she did back when she had to make her decision about the Iraq War. Weighing policy considerations against the desires of some of her hawkish supporters.

Hopefully, I am wrong. Hopefully she will support Obama and make clear that the United States will pursue a diplomatic solution with Iran— or war, by us or Israel—if she becomes president.

If she won’t do that, if she makes the same mistake twice, progressive Democrats will need to find another candidate. Just like we did last time.

M.J. Rosenberg was a Foreign Policy fellow at Media Matters For America. Previously, he spent 15 years as a Senate and House aide. Early in his career he was editor of AIPAC’s newsletter Near East Report. From 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum. Follow him @MJayRosenberg.

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