Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hillary's Threat to Obliterate Iran Causing Ripples

Iran Mushroom

Hillary Clinton's threat to "obliterate" Iran if Tehran launched an attack on Israel is sending ripples throughout the international community, the Los Angeles Times reports:

Better be careful what you say in the heat of a political campaign. It could have global repercussions.

Better be careful what you say in the heat of a political campaign. It could have global repercussions.

Jaded American insiders shrugged off the remark as typical campaign season bluster, filed away with myriad other exaggerations and gaffes.

But it prompted shock overseas as well as headlines from Bulgaria to New Zealand.

The statement triggered alarm bells in the Persian Gulf, which would likely suffer the consequences of any war between Iran and the U.S. In a harshly worded editorial, the Saudi-based daily Arab News trashed Clinton's comment today as insane:

This is the foreign politics of the madhouse. It demonstrates the same doltish ignorance that has distinguished Bush’s foreign relations. It offers only violence where there should be negotiations and war where there could be peace. At a stroke, Clinton demonstrated to everyone in this region that if she were the next occupant of the White House, Iraq-like death and destruction would be the order of the day.

The paper generally stays true to the line of the Saudi government, which is a key U.S. ally. But criticism of the remark also came from even friendlier quarters.

In the United Kingdom, which has been a steadfast U.S. ally in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as on the issue of Iran, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, a ranking British diplomat, criticized Clinton's remark as gratuitous:

While it is reasonable to warn Iran of the consequence of it continuing to develop nuclear weapons and what those real consequences bring to its security, it is not probably prudent ... in today's world to threaten to obliterate any other country and in many cases civilians resident in such a country.

[UPDATE: To see a video and full transcript of the comment, click here.]

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was perhaps more diplomatic in his comments on Iran's nuclear activities, but essentially agreed with Senator Clinton's remarks:

The defense secretary said he favors keeping the military option against Iran on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat, either directly or through proliferation.

Gates also said that if the war in Iraq is not finished on favorable terms, the consequences could be dire.

Note how the Saudis call the Bush administration's vigorous forward policy "doltish," and this is coming from a country where "women have fewer rights than Western children."

Hillary wouldn't be able to make any statements on national security in Saudi Arabia. Now that's doltish.