Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, told Chris Cuomo on GMA this morning that should Iran attack Israel with nuclear weapons, "I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran…In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."
The comment seems to contradict previous statements Clinton has made on the subject — not so much about her willingness to attack Iran, but about the wisdom of discussing such a move.
During a debate on MSNBC last October, moderator Brian Williams asked Clinton what her "red line" would be "concerning when to, if to attack Iran? What would make it crystal-clear in your mind that the United States should attack Iran?"
Clinton at the time wouldn’t answer the question, even when pressed by Williams, who had to come back at her after she gave a lengthy non-responsive answer.
"Respectfully, Senator," Williams said, "same question though: Do you have a threshold…?
Clinton would only say, "I want to start diplomacy….I am not going to speculate about when or if they get nuclear weapons."
Her current remarks are quite a contrast from that cautiousness.
Moreover, at the AFL-CIO candidate forum last August after Sens. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., got into a heated exchange about Obama’s pledge to attack targets within Pakistan — with or without the Pakistani government’s permission — should he as president get actionable intelligence of high-value al Qaeda targets in that country.
Clinton at that time scolded her colleagues for having the discussion.
“Well, I do not believe people running for president should engage in hypotheticals," she said. "And it may well be that the strategy we have to pursue on the basis of actionable intelligence — but remember, we’ve had some real difficult experiences with actionable intelligence — might lead to a certain action."
Clinton said then that she thinks "it is a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamic extremists who are in bed with al Qaeda and Taliban. And remember, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The last thing we want is to have al Qaeda-like followers in charge of Pakistan and having access to nuclear weapons. So you can think big, but remember, you shouldn’t always say everything you think if you’re running for president, because it has consequences across the world. And we don’t need that right now."
So what has changed other than her desire to appear tougher than Obama?
It would seem to me that her threat to Iran is a direct contradiction of her refusal last October to engage in speculation about when she would take military action against Iran, as well as a contradiction of her pish-poshing last August about engaging in foreign policy hypotheticals.