Is Hillary hurting her 2016 chances by not backing peace with Iran?

Hillary Clinton, arguably, sunk herself with progressives during the 2008 presidential campaign by voting for war with Iraq in 2002.

This is not to say that Obama’s hands are clean, or cleaner. In 2008 he could only fall back on a statement he had made about what he would have done, but was never called on, up to that point, to do — support or oppose a war. Still, that was enough.

Clinton’s defense of her pro-war vote in 2002 certainly did her no favors, and may have swung the primary against her. M.J. Rosenberg, writing at the Huffington Post and the excellent Washington Spectator (online edition), is certain of it:

There can be little doubt that Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 nomination for president because she voted to authorize the Iraq War. If she had opposed it, there would have been no rationale for the Obama candidacy. It is likely that she, not President Obama, would now be in the White House.

Then he adds, “It seems crazy. But Clinton might see history repeat itself.” Intrigued? Read on.

How close are we to war with Iran?

The recent State Department–brokered peace deal with Iran seems almost assured, but not quite. Rosenberg (my emphasis and paragraphing throughout):

Today President Obama’s effort to achieve a peaceful resolution of our differences with Iran through diplomacy and not war is under serious attack by the same neoconservative claque that promoted the Iraq war. Almost a veto-proof majority of senators is supporting new Iran sanctions that would, if implemented, almost surely cause the Iranians to walk away from the negotiating table. According to the White House, that would greatly increase the chances for war.

Obama, for his part and to his credit, came out strongly in support of peace with Iran in his State of the Union address:

If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

That’s pretty forceful, not weak-willed at all. But notice that Rosenberg wrote “almost a veto-proof majority”. Just a few Senate votes could swing it toward war. And make no mistake about whose water those warrior senators are carrying — the heavy water of AIPAC and the pro-Likud Israel lobby. (There are anti-Likud pro-Israel lobbyists as well, but they are much weaker in terms of funding and influence.)

On that upcoming Senate vote, here’s Robert Naiman, writing in the Huffington Post:

Now comes the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, lobbying the Democratic Senate for war with Iran. AIPAC wants the Democratic Senate to pass S. 1881, a new Iran sanctions bill, over the strong objections of the Obama administration. The administration and ten Senate Democratic committee chairs, along with the U.S. intelligence community say that passage of S. 1881 would blow up U.S. diplomacy with Iran and put the U.S. on a path to yet another disastrous Middle East war.

At this writing, S. 1881 has 54 co-sponsors: 38 Republicans and 16 Democrats (counting Menendez, the lead sponsor.)

As of a few weeks ago, 54 senators supported S. 1881, the War with Iran bill (which they call something else, I’m sure). That number could be even larger today. And keep in mind, war with Iran would be a disaster, and not just because of the shiny new price of gasoline.

Is Clinton really vulnerable on Iran?

Back to Hillary. So far she’s been silent on increased sanctions with Iran — in other words, silent on peace with Iran, since the purpose of increasing the sanctions is to sabotage Obama’s peace initiative. Does she need to speak? Back to Rosenberg:

But where is his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton? So far she has had nothing to say about the congressional initiative to block Obama’s Iran diplomacy. But she has to know that if she forcefully supported what President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are trying to do, unsure Democrats would likely follow her lead.

I happen to agree. This is an excellent chance for Hillary Clinton to correct an old mistake, her support for Bush’s Iraq War. If you’re a Hillary supporter, you should be cheering for her to seize that opportunity.

But it’s another opportunity for her as well. According to Rosenberg, she could sabotage or save her own next chance to be president:

Hopefully she will support President Obama and make clear that the United States will pursue a diplomatic solution with Iran — not war, by us or Israel — if she becomes president. If she won’t do that, if she makes the same mistake twice, progressive Democrats will need to find another candidate. Just like we did last time.

And given that she tarred herself the first time with a pro-war position, she’s especially vulnerable again this time. People won’t forget.

What should Hillary do? What should her supporters do?

If Hillary wants to put to rest the ghost of the 2008 campaign, she can support her Democratic president’s initiative to bring needed peace to the Middle East this year. Would she not want that support herself, if she were president?

If Hillary’s many supporters want to strengthen her hand in the run-up to 2016, they can encourage her to speak, now, while it still matters.

Because if she doesn’t put that old dog to rest, it could waken to bite her a second time. If you need help remembering, here is where she got bit the first time. A sample:

Expect to see this whole speech on a loop in 2015 and 2016 if she’s not proactive. Tick tick tick? If you support her now, you may want to help her now.

Ask Hillary to support peace with Iran

If you want to do her a favor, ask Hillary Clinton to support peace with Iran. Tell her the Straits of Hormuz are whispering in your ear.

The easily blocked Straits of Hormuz

The easily blocked Straits of Hormuz

Tick tick tick …


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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