It’s becoming something of an annual tradition for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: travel to the Middle East and in literally every public appearance refer to Iran’s “pursuit of nuclear weapons” and the consequent need for more stringent sanctions. Last March, no less than a half-dozen times in the span of a week Clinton, in press conferences from Egypt to Israel, dished out some of the harshest and most militant rhetoric from the Obama administration up to that point on Iran’s “aggressive” pursuit of nukes. This past week, Clinton again toured the Middle East, reprising her by now familiar role as the Obama administration’s point person for hawkish, moralizing lectures against the few remaining non-U.S. client states in the region.
“We think the time has come for the world community to take a position which perhaps will penetrate into all of the decision-making arenas that exist now within Iran, and cause some reconsideration not of their peaceful program, which I know the Iranian people support and have every right to have, but of their nuclear weapons military program,” Clinton said at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha.
Responding to a question during a separate townhall-style interview, however, Clinton seemingly slipped up by declaring that the U.S. goal, “eventually, is to have a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.” There is, of course, just one country in the region that possesses nukes: Israel, which is widely acknowledged to have at least 100 of them. The U.S. and Israeli governments, however, officially deny this is case, preferring ambiguity over open acknowledgment, which risks drawing attention to the glorious hypocrisy at play. Even aside from the tacit admission of Israeli nukes, that hypocrisy was already on full display.
Back at the World Forum, Clinton earlier maintained the U.S. position “regarding Iran’s nuclear program is simple. We believe that all states, including Iran, start with the same rights and the same responsibilities.” This is demonstrably untrue, though. The U.S. and other Western governments, for example, openly flaunt their nuclear weapons arsenals as part of their official national security “deterrence” (dick waving) strategies as they boost spending on developing new and improved means of incinerating their enemies with atomic efficiency. Existing nuclear powers having been graciously grandfathered in on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, however, these governments need only take meek steps toward reducing their stockpiles, it being okay to possess enough nukes to destroy the world once-over, but twice being a tad gauche. Iran, on the other hand, is not an empire but a mere nation, and as Clinton notes thus only permitted “the right to nuclear power so long as they accept the responsibility of demonstrating unequivocally that their programs are used solely for peaceful civilian purposes.”
If a country never even takes the good-faith step of committing to the non-proliferation treaty — Israel, Pakistan, India; U.S. allies and recipients of taxpayer largess all — all is permitted, under de facto U.S. policy, seemingly undermining the incentive for signing up to the agreement in the first place, given it subjects a signatory to possible charges of non-compliance but offers little certainty one can pursue a nuclear energy program in peace and security. But reason and sanity have never been useful guides to U.S. foreign policy, which, as Steve Hynd notes, is increasingly recalling memories of the 2002 buildup to the Iraq war, complete with media sycophancy — the administration’s distortion of its own intelligence agencies findings a complete non-story in the mainstream press — and dubious claims of WMDs and emerging threats dominating the airwaves, so much so even our right and honorable statesmen sometimes forget what year it is.
Take Hillary Clinton (no really, please, take her) at the townhall event in Qatar:
“Now, I have spent a lot of time talking with the leaders, and leading influential people from the Gulf and the broader Middle East. And they worry a lot about Iraq having nuclear weapons.”
For remembrance’s sake, Clinton on the floor of the Senate in 2002:
“[I]ntelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program.”
Seems like old times. Even if not seeking to start an actual shooting war, each day the Obama administration trumps a threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program its own intelligence officials and international inspectors have found no evidence to prove even exists makes it easier for Israel — or a President Palin — to justify military action of their own. In the meantime, perhaps the best we can hope for is that President Obama’s troubles on the domestic front don’t lead him to start reading Daniel Pipes.