At the Democratic debate Tuesday night, John Edwards led the charge against frontrunner Hillary Clinton, accusing her of double talk and saber rattling on Iran, especially with regards to her vote for a resolution backing U.S. sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard.
On both counts, however, Edwards might as well have been talking about himself.
Last January, at an annual gathering of top members of the Israeli security establishment, Edwards gave a Rudy-sounding speech on Iran (click here and scroll to the right to find the text). It contained more saber rattling than anything Clinton has said in recent weeks, and certainly sounded a strong note for tougher sanctions. Here are a few of the highlights:
* “Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”
* “Iran must know that the world won’t back down. The recent UN resolution ordering Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium was not enough. We need meaningful political and economic sanctions. We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.”
* “My analysis of Iran is if you start with the President of Iran coming to the UN in New York denouncing America and his extraordinary and nasty statements about the Holocaust and goal of wiping Israel off map, married with his attempts to obtain nuclear weapons over a long period of time, they are buying time. They are the foremost state sponsors of terrorism. If they have nuclear weapons, other states in the area will want them, and this is unacceptable.”
Compare all that to what he had to say just a few weeks later on “Meet The Press.” When asked if President Edwards would allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, he said: “I — there’s no answer to that question at this moment….I think — I think the — we don’t know, and you have to make a judgment as you go along, and that’s what I would do as president.”
Say what you want about Clinton’s recent vote or her general approach to Iran, but she’s pushed a consistent message: tough sanctions and robust diplomacy, while refusing to take the military option off of the table.
She stressed all sides of the equation during a speech to an AIPAC gathering in January. That same month, during his speech in Israel, Edwards was so busy talking tough that he forgot to issue a call for stepped up diplomacy, until he was asked about the issue during the question and answer session.