A profile in cowardice.
Demonstrating her profile in cowardice, Hillary Clinton waited to explain in detail her support for President Obama's disastrous nuclear deal with Iran until it no longer mattered politically what she said. She held back until Obama had secured enough support from Democrats to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval of the deal and possibly enough votes in the Senate to filibuster the resolution to death. "By now, the outcome of the deal in Congress is no longer in much doubt," Hillary declared in her remarks at the Brookings Institution on September 9th.
A real leader aspiring to be president and commander-in-chief should have weighed in with her opinion while "the outcome of the deal" was still up in the air. But that’s not the way the presumed front runner for her party's presidential nomination operates. Everything she does is calculated to enhance her own image. To make up for her procrastination in explaining why she endorsed the deal and how she would implement it as president, Hillary used her speech to pose as a tough commander-in-chief should Iran dare to test her.
“I support this deal. I support it as part of a larger strategy towards Iran," Clinton said. "We have to say 'Yes – and.' 'Yes, and we will enforce it with vigor and vigilance.'"
Vigilance? Clinton as Secretary of State lacked even a modicum of vigilance needed to ensure that top secret classified information would not find its way on to her insecure homegrown private server. With her track record, Iran’s leaders will know her plans almost as soon as she transmits them.
In a twist on Ronald Reagan’s famous “trust but verify” remark, Clinton said her policy towards Iran will be "distrust and verify.” She claimed that the deal already “gives us better tools for verification and inspection, and to compel rigorous compliance.” However, she played down the deal’s gaping holes with regard to the inspection mechanisms. These holes included allowing Iran to self-inspect its military site at Parchin and to delay international inspections of undeclared suspect sites for at least 24 days. Will Hillary do anything to fill in those holes? She didn’t say.
Hillary addressed Iran directly with a threat to take military action if Iran tries to move ahead with obtaining a nuclear bomb. "The United States will never allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon," she declared, adding that she "will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon."
Hillary’s tough talk is belied by the poseur’s repetition of Obama’s assurance that the deal “blocks every pathway for Iran to get a bomb.” To the contrary, the deal at best delays, for a little more than a dozen years, Iran’s capacity to develop enough material to immediately produce a nuclear weapon and will allow Iran to obtain or develop the missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon in 8 years. Hillary admitted that Iran will likely cheat or just try and “wait us out.” Her warning of a military response is not very reassuring. It sounds like the kind of red line set and then forgotten by the current president.
Clinton called for new restrictions on conventional arms to Iran. She ignored the last-minute concession that the Obama administration made to allow the lifting of the UN embargo on Iran’s purchase or sale of conventional arms in 5 years and on missile sales and purchases in 8 years.
Hillary also said that she will stand by Israel if elected, promising to provide it with advanced weapons. Missing in her remarks intended to assure Israel, however, was any mention of the United States’ most powerful bunker-busting bomb capable of reaching Iran’s nuclear facilities far underground. She also neglected to mention a stipulation in Obama’s deal that could put the United States on Iran’s side against Israel. Buried in an appendix is a pledge by the United States and its negotiating parties to provide “cooperation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”
How does this pledge of cooperation with Iran in the deal that Hillary endorses square with her stated intention to “confront” Iran at every turn? How does helping Iran to respond to sabotage, which Israel may want to use in the future to protect itself, square with her promise to “always stand by Israel’s right to defend itself as I always have”? Either the former Secretary of State has not thoroughly read the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), including the appendices, or she was simply grandstanding when she declared that “I don’t see Iran as our partner in implementing the agreement. I see Iran as our subject in implementing the agreement.”
In her speech, Clinton predicted that Iran will “test the next president” and “see how far they can bend the rules” of the JCPA agreement. If there is one thing Hillary knows all about, it is how far one can go to the bend the rules.
Clinton laid out a five point plan in an effort to prove that Iran will not get away with anything “if I am in the White House.” In addition to offering strong military support for Israel, Clinton’s plan included elements already put forward by Obama such as increased security aid for our Gulf State allies. She called for increased sanctions against Hezbollah and for taking a tougher stance with respect to Turkey and Qatar’s financial support for Hamas. And Hillary displayed her hawkish pose by suggesting an expanded U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf to help counter Iranian aggression and its spread of terrorism.
Finally, Hillary claimed that, if elected, she would impose penalties on Iran for even minor violations of the nuclear deal. "We will take seriously every aspect of this agreement and we will expect them [Iran] to comply," she added.
With all of her tough talk, Hillary Clinton said nothing about what should be done today in the face of Iran’s current violations of the deal. These include Iran’s arms shipments to terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah, which Hillary acknowledged is happening today. Moreover, she had no answer to Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent threat that Iran would not honor the terms of the deal unless the sanctions were permanently lifted, not just suspended as the negotiators had agreed:
“The fact that we sat down and held talks and made concessions on certain issues was mainly in order to have the sanctions lifted. If the sanctions are not going to be lifted, there will be no agreement…” (MEMRI, Special Dispatch | 6151 | September 8, 2015)
Hillary is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, she talks tough with stern warnings to Iran, in an effort to distinguish herself from Obama’s obliging stance towards Iran. On the other hand, she supports Obama’s fatally flawed deal. Even worse, she remains silent while the Iranian regime already flouts key terms such as the arms embargo, and while Iran’s Supreme Leader threatens to cancel the deal if he does not get his way on the immediate lifting of all sanctions.
Hillary Clinton undoubtedly hoped that her belated speech on the Iran deal at the Brookings Institution would divert some attention away from her e-mail troubles. But it only served to remind us of her failure as Secretary of State. Of course, she will be remembered first and foremost for her reckless handling of classified e-mails on her private server. But that is not all. Her so-called reset button with Russia was a failure. Russia has since annexed Crimea, infiltrated eastern Ukraine in support of the separatists and is now reportedly involved in combat in Syria. Hillary’s disastrous push for forcible regime change in Libya created the vacuum filled by jihadist terrorists. She also failed with Iran.
During her last months as Secretary of State, Hillary reinforced Obama’s willingness to pivot away from the long-standing no-uranium enrichment policy. She supported the idea that Tehran could maintain at least some capacity to produce enriched nuclear materials, even though such materials could eventually be used to produce a nuclear bomb. The trajectory from that major concession led both to a likely shortening of Iran’s break-out time to develop a nuclear weapon and to the flawed deal Clinton now supports. Clinton can only be expected to compound her failures if elected as president of the United States.