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Are you feeling insecure yet?

By Michael J. Smith on Monday June 8, 2009 05:34 PM

There's been some discussion about just what Hillary Clinton meant to say in a recent TV interview. Here's a transcript of the problematic exchange:

CLINTON: If Iran is seeking security, if they believe -- and, you know, you have to put yourself into the shoes of the other party when you negotiate -- if they believe that the United States might attack them the way that we did attack Iraq, for example...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Before they attack, as a first strike?

CLINTON: That's right, as a first strike, or they might have some other enemy that would do that to them, part of what we have to make clear to the Iranians is that their pursuit of nuclear weapons will actually trigger greater insecurity, because, right now, many of the nations in the neighborhood, as you know very well...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because Israel will strike before they can finish?

CLINTON: Well, but not only that. I mean, other countries, other Arab countries are deeply concerned about Iran having nuclear weapons. So does Iran want to face a battery of nuclear weapons countries...

Lot of oddities here. Israel and the US are the only nuclear weapons states in the picture, but Hillary makes this strange reference to "other Arab countries" -- not that Iran is an "Arab country", of course -- and a nonexistent "battery" of nuclear powers.

She brought up sua sponte the notion of a preemptive first-strike attack on Iran; she wasn't asked about it.

To my ear, the money line was "their pursuit of nuclear weapons will actually trigger greater insecurity," situated solidly in the context of a hypothetical "first strike... the way that we did attack Iraq."

Looks to me like she wants to say it without actually saying it: somebody -- either the US or Israel, of course; who else is conceivable? -- is likely to attack the Iranians if they don't submit. What else could "greater insecurity" mean in this context?

It's hard to make any other kind of sense of this exchange, unless you assume that she experienced a minor subclinical brain aneurysm during the course of the interview. In which case one can only regret that the incident wasn't much more grave.

Comments (5)

That photo ought to be her official portrait. It's her in her true natural state.

Meanwhile, your explanation seems unassailable.

The only open question is whether starting the war with Iran that even W. rejected would shake the Obambies out of their "give him more time, he's trying his nest, at least he's intelligent, I don't want to talk about it" trance.

Personally, I'd probably wager on the "no" side of that one.

Peter Ward:

Whether they actually intend to start a war, or spark some other catastrophe, involving Iran, the way they're talking they seem determined to do so.

The ultimate result would seemingly have to be an end of American ME imperialism, but coming at the cost of probably millions of lives and a regional, if not global, recovery period of decades or more.


Peter and Michael leave me no position but devil's advocate, so I'll just say remember the bluff -- Israel's favorite tactic, over here called "the madman theory".

Since American presidents tend to campaign on phrases like "change", "hope", "no nation-building", "partners for peace", once elected they have to work especially hard to prove that they're not sissies after all.

Son of Uncle Sam:

-- and a nonexistent "battery" of nuclear powers
Well- we still haven't ended the search for those WMD's in Iraq- they'er around there somewhere!??!


yankee empire still in retrench mode

peace in our time ???

well not quite

a patch here and a patch there
of the corporate market and mines
wiborderland will still need
spur of the moment humanizations
and needless to add
the afpak great game
of towels and dragons must go on

but in particular
the watch on the jordan
will remain a foreign version
of nancy grace journalism
on both sides

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