Hillary to Aipac: Talk to Tehran, But Keep All Options Open

‘We Must Not Permit’ Iran to Get Nukes, Senator Says

By Jennifer Siegel

Published February 02, 2007, issue of February 02, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In a speech before a packed pro-Israel crowd in New York, Senator Hillary Clinton made a forceful, if measured, case for the need to engage with Iran and Syria, while reaffirming her commitment to denying Tehran nuclear weapons.

“If we are having to pursue potential action against Iran, then I want to know more about the adversary that we face,” Clinton told the 1,700 people gathered for the February 1 Northeast regional dinner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “I want to understand better what the leverage we can bring to bear on them will actually produce. I want to get a better sense of what the real power centers and influentials are, and I also want to send a message, if we ever do have to take more drastic actions, to the rest of the world that we exhausted all possibilities.”

Clinton, a Democratic frontrunner for the 2008 presidential nomination known for her methodical, lawyerly approach to complex problems, built her case for engagement carefully. Acknowledging that “there are no easy answers to the complex situation we face today,” she called President Bush’s steadfast rejection of talks with Iran and Syria a “good-faith position to take” that was, nevertheless, perhaps not the “smartest strategy.” She had “no expectations whatsoever,” she admitted at the outset, that “anything positive would come” from talks.

Still, Clinton argued, engagement is a way to gain more information about a formidable adversary, as it was with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In addition, she said, opening a diplomatic track could make it easier to build support among allies should America decide that military action is needed.

Democratic hopefuls have been in agreement about the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In a January 22 speech to American and Israeli security officials and experts, another 2008 contender, former North Carolina senator and vice-presidential nominee John Edwards, said, “Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”

His address, in contrast with Clinton’s speech, made no mention of engaging with Iran. But when an audience member asked afterward, “Would you be prepared, if diplomacy failed, to take further action against Iran?” the former senator said he supported talking with Tehran.

“As to what to do, we should not take anything off the table,” Edwards said. “More serious sanctions need to be undertaken, which cannot happen unless Russia and China are seriously on board, which has not happened up until now. I would not want to say in advance what we would do, and what I would do as president, but there are other steps that need to be taken. For example, we need to support direct engagement with the Iranians, we need to be tough. But I think it is a strategic mistake to avoid engagement with Iran.”

At Clinton’s speech, while a faint smattering applause could be heard as the senator referenced Bush’s policy of shunning all talks with Tehran, hearty clapping greeted her own call for diplomatic engagement. The night’s strongest, most sustained response came earlier in Clinton’s speech, when the senator echoed the pro-Israel community’s longstanding position that a nuclear Iran would be a grave and impermissible threat.

“U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal,” Clinton told the crowd. “We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and in dealing with this threat, as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.