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Collins: Clinton's Threat to "Obliterate" Iran

Is That Tough Enough?

Daniella Zalcman (cc)

Clinton's Threat to "Obliterate" Iran

Michael Collins
"Scoop" Independent News
Washington, D.C.

Last week, Hillary Clinton proved that reason is on holiday. When asked how she would react to an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, Clinton said that she would "obliterate" Iran. She didn't say it in a rage. She didn't say it in a state of nervous exhaustion. She appeared calm and composed. Her voice didn't waiver at all as she spoke these words on "Good Morning America:"

Well, the question was, if Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel, what would our response be? I want the Iranians to know that if I am president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that. Because it does mean that they have to look very carefully at their society. Because whatever stage of development they might be in their nuclear weapons program, in the next 10 years during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them. Los Angeles Times Apr. 24, 2008 YouTube (at 2:29)

For decades it's been an unspoken rule that the president and others in key leadership positions avoid open threats of nuclear attack. The United States and the Soviet Union both had enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world hundreds of times over. This lead to a Cold War - a series of proxy wars and other encounters made necessary by the "mutually assured destruction" that would follow a serious exchange of nuclear weapons.

Yet Clinton told the Mullahs in charge of Iran to take a good look at their society since she'd evaporate it if they launched a nuclear attack on Israel.

Iran does not have nuclear weapons now and may not until 2015 according to the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate.

"We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015." National Intelligence Estimate Nov. 2007

What's Her Point?

Does Clinton want Iran to develop nuclear weapons? That may seem like an absurd question. But it's inspired by her threatening statement. Iran had a nuclear weapons program, halted it, and now appears to be headed in that direction again. Threatening to "obliterate them," all 71 million Iranians, offers up ample incentive, along with propaganda cover, for the Mullahs in charge to move forward with these weapons of mass destruction.

Does Clinton want to protect Israel? Statements that prod the Iranians to move from reticence to action on any nuclear weapons development are not favorable to Israel in any conceivable way. As far as protection goes, Israel has its own version of assured destruction. Estimates of their nuclear stockpile range from 70 to 400 warheads. That's enough to "obliterate" Iran. It's a credible deterrence, it would seem, unless the Mullahs all want to die. Clinton's proposed response would simply entail bombing the rubble.

Does Clinton want to look "tough enough" to be President? What's her standard? Have we had any presidents who threatened to totally obliterate any nation with or without nuclear weapons? The use of these weapons has been considered and even suggested on occasion, but it's difficult to find threatening statements before the fact. Clinton took it to a new level in this outburst.

On this specific question, President Bush was uncharacteristically restrained when Wolfe Blitzer asked how he'd respond if Israel were "attacked by the Iranians:"

Bush: "Well, you know, I hope it doesn't happen. But, you know, you're asking me to answer a hypothetical. My answer is, and they've got to understand, that we will support Israel if Iran attacks them." CNN Dec. 23, 2007

Clinton sounds tougher than Bush.

McCain commented on the Iran - Israel relationship in what was termed "tough talk" in New York City:

"We have a long way to go diplomatically before we need to contemplate other measures," McCain said. "But it is a simple observation of reality that there is only one thing worse than a military solution, and that, my friends, is a nuclear-armed Iran. New York Post Dec. 11, 2006

In terms of talking tough, Clinton outdoes both Bush and McCain in a walk.

Clinton hypothesized a genocidal attack on Israel by Iran. Her solution is a genocidal attack on Iran by the United States (i.e., "we will totally obliterate them"). Clinton failed to note that Iran lacks nuclear weapons. She also failed to mention that to launch an attack, the future Iranian leaders must be willing die and issue a death sentence to all of their citizens, given Israel's ability to respond (another point she didn't mention).

Clinton failed to consider that the Iranians would be destroying the very people they seek to protect, the Palestinians, who live both within and next door to Israel. And even if the Iranians could avoid retaliation from Israel and the United States (impossible to conceive); they would risk death, disease and hardship as a result of radioactive fallout.

Clinton's statement makes no sense whatsoever in terms of the situation discussed or the public dialog on the use nuclear weapons.

Intended and Unintended Consequences

If Clinton's goal was to appear "tough enough" to be president, then there might be some logic in making such a statement. I'll see your 'protect an ally' and raise you one 'obliteration.'

Why does she need to be tough? Just before Clinton responded to the question about Iran, "Good Morning America" reporter Brian Cuomo asked, "Is winning enough for you." Clinton responded, "I have to win, I believe that's my task and I'm going to do everything I can to win." It's clear that fulfilling her "task" means that there are no limits on what she will say and do to get elected.

In the short term, Clinton may have given President Bush some cover for the long anticipated preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

An imminent attack on Iran has been covered by a variety of sources. It came into clear focus during Zbigniew Brzezinski's Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing in February 2007. Recently, the concern has heightened with the resignation of Admiral William Fallon, head of the joint chief, who opposed an Iranian adventure

There's no implication of collusion intended between Clinton and Bush on this matter. President Bush and Vice President Cheney are quite capable of moving forward with their plans without any consideration of the action, the outcomes, and the opinions of citizens. But through her excessive rhetoric in the pursuit of votes and the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton provided some political cover for this plan.

What type of campaign is this when a leading candidate threatens to "obliterate" an entire nation by conjuring up a ridiculous scenario that's years out … just to show that she's tough enough to be president?

What kind of political culture is it that allows such an incredibly disingenuous and reckless statement to be made and then simply vanish without in depth consideration?

Who are these people anyway, the intemperate candidate and comatose media? They don't represent the vast majority in the United States in terms of values and intellectual capacity. Yet Clinton seeks to rule and the press claims to act in the public interest.

We have reached a new low in the decline of the U.S. ruling class and their faithful servants, the corporate media. But it's just a matter of time until they remind us again that in their culture of death, there's no failure in excess.


Permission granted to reproduce this article in whole or part with attribution of authorship, a link to this article, and appropriate credit for image(s).

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