Clinton deals with fallout from controversial Iran amendment at debate
In MSNBC's recent debate, Hillary Clinton was forced to go on the defensive regarding her vote last month to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a global terrorist entity. Clinton was forced to repeatedly deny any support of an attack on Iran.
Well, first of all, I am against a rush to war. I was the first person on this stage and one of the very first in the Congress to go to the floor of the Senate back in February and say George Bush had no authority to take any military action in Iran.
Secondly, I am not in favor of this rush for war, but I'm also not in favor of doing nothing. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism. So some may want a false choice between rushing to war -- which is the way the Republicans sound; it's not even a question of whether, it's a question of when and what weapons to use -- and doing nothing. I prefer vigorous diplomacy, and I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy. We use them with respect to North Korea. We use them with respect to Libya. And many of us who voted for that resolution said that this is not anything other than an expression of support for using economic sanctions with respect to diplomacy.
Chris Dodd, who voted against the amendment, saw things differently,
This issue is going to come back to haunt us. We all learned, some of us here painfully, back in 2002 that by voting for an authorization regarding Iraq, that despite the language of that resolution, which called for diplomacy at the time, this administration used that resolution, obviously, to pursue a very aggressive action in Iraq.
Joe Biden, who also voted “no”, criticized the vote further,
Let's look at what happened from the moment that vote took place.
Oil prices went up to $90 a barrel. Who benefits from that? All this talk of war, all this talk of declaring people to be terrorists, drove up the price of oil.
Secondly, we have emboldened Bush at a minimum. His talk of World War III, totally irresponsible talk. We've emboldened him, Tim, to be able to move if he chooses to move. They're terrorists. The fact that they're terrorists on one side of the border or the other, we've just declared them terrorists. That gives him the color of right to move against them.
Thirdly, this has incredible consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nobody talks about this. Do 75 of our colleagues not understand? We have now driven underground every moderate in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. This literally -- literally -- puts Karzai, as well as Musharraf, in jeopardy.
The notion here is it plays into this whole urban legend that America is on a crusade against Islam. This was bad -- if nothing else happens, not another single thing, this was bad policy.
The president had the ability to do everything that that amendment, that resolution called for without us talking to it. And all it has done is hurt us, even if not another single action is taken. Actions have consequences. Big nations can't bluff.
Barrack Obama was absent for the vote, but joined in criticizing the outcome of the vote,
I don't think we should be talking about attacking Iran at this point, for some of the reasons that Chris and Joe just talked about. Look, we have been seeing, during the Republican debates, the drumbeat of war. The president has been talking about World War III. That is a continuation of the kinds of foreign policy that rejects diplomacy and sees military action as the only tool available to us to influence the region. And what we should be doing is reaching out aggressively to our allies but also talking to our enemies and focusing on those areas where we do not accept their actions, whether it be terrorism or developing nuclear weapons, but also talking to Iran directly about the potential carrots that we can provide, in terms of them being involved in the World Trade Organization, or beginning to look at the possibilities of diplomatic relations being normalized.
We have not made those serious attempts. This kind of resolution does not send the right signal to the region. It doesn't send the right signal to our allies or our enemies, and as a consequence, I think over the long term it weakens our capacity to influence Iran.
John Edwards went further in his criticism,
Well, I just listened to what Senator Clinton said, and she said she wanted to maximize pressure on the Bush administration. So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written literally by the neocons? I mean, has anyone read this thing? I mean, it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted.
It didn't just give them what they wanted; they acted on it. A few weeks later, they declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and -- this is going to sound very familiar remember from Iraq, the prelude to Iraq? -- proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. The way you put pressure on this administration is you stand up to -- you say no.
A lot of us on this stage have learned our lessons the hard way, that you give this president an inch and he will take a mile. And this is about such an important issue, and we have to stand up to this president. We need to make it absolutely clear that we have no intention of letting Bush, Cheney or this administration invade Iraq (sic) because they have been rattling the saber over and over and over.
And what this resolution did, written literally in the language of the neocons, is it enables this president to do exactly what he wants to do. He continues to march forward. He continues to say this is a terrorist organization. He continues to say these are proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. How in the world is that Democrats? We're not talking about Republicans now, Chris and Joe -- Democrats standing up to this president and saying no, we are not going to allow this; we are not going to allow this march to war in Iran.