Will Hillary Take A Position On Iran Sanctions?

by Jim Lobe

What will former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say, if anything, about the KirkMenendez Iran sanctions bill?

The pressure on her to take a position must be considerable, if only because, as both the former secretary and presumed front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination, she could exert a decisive influence on the bill’s fate in the Senate. If she takes a firm stance either pro or con, a dozen or more Democrats who are currently on the fence are likely to scurry in her direction, possibly enough to either persuade Majority Leader Harry Reid to block the bill from coming to the floor or to provide the hawks with enough votes to overcome an Obama veto.

The stakes for her are really quite high, particularly when you consider that her support for the Iraq war was probably the single most important reason for her defeat by Obama in 2008. If she comes out for the bill or declines to support the White House and John Kerry (and her protégée, Wendy Sherman), and the result is the bill’s enactment followed by the collapse of the P5+1 negotiations and a military strike by early 2016, she’ll once again lose the non-interventionist wing of Democratic Party to just about any challenger who now opposes the bill. This, after all, is almost certainly the biggest foreign policy issue of Obama’s second term.

On the other hand, if she opposes the bill and backs the administration of which she was a key part, she will almost certainly incur the wrath of AIPAC and its powerful donors, a situation that the Clintons have tried very hard to avoid since Bill Clinton became a rising star of the Liebermanesque Democratic Leadership Council.

So far, she’s avoided saying anything on the bill. She reportedly told a private meeting just before Christmas that she thought that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s outspoken opposition to the bill and threats of unilateral military action had actually strengthened the administrations’ hand in negotiations. On the other hand, she was the first administration official to declare publicly (as early as 2010) that Iran could conceivably be permitted to enrich uranium on its own soil as part of a comprehensive solution to the nuclear issue — a position that stands in direct opposition to provisions of the Kirk-Menendez bill. Whether she was speaking for herself or was instructed to take that position is unclear. After all, it was Clinton who went beyond Obama’s early demands that Netanyahu suspend settlement activity by insisting that there must be “no exceptions,” including in “natural growth” of the settlements. And it’s clear that neither Bill nor Hillary is particularly fond of Bibi.

But both have consistently been very respectful of AIPAC, which is clearly going all out on this.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Her failure to take a position is yet another an indicator of her presidential ambitions and the reason why her calculations are generally of a personal political nature, rather than about the national interest. She may know how to build political coalitions and staff an agency, but she lacks the core of what the country needs right now, and the policies she has supported both as Senator and Secretary of State have done great harm to the country and the world. Unfortunately, the American public- especially in the Democratic party- see her as some sort of Joan of Arc ready to lead them to nirvana, when really she is a flamethrower ready to sell out to power and the highest bidder, in this case AIPAC, Wall Street and the military industrial complex. I not holding my breath as to how she will try navigate this one. My sense is that while she could do damage if she throws her weight behind S.1881, people should start to ignore her as irrelevant, just as they should, and should have ignored her husband.

  2. I agree with edding, we don’t need anymore dynasties in the political arena here in the U.S.A. .

  3. Will Hillary Clinton have the courage to oppose this dangerous, counter-productive bill? Good question indeed.

  4. Isn’t it crazy that a presidential candidate in the United State has to worry about the influence of a foreign lobby in matters of war. If she goes against the negotiations and more sanctions then she’s a warmonger in the pocket of AIPAC and she will lose my vote to any primary challenger. I didn’t vote for he because of the Iraq vote and I won’t vote for her this time.

  5. The problem with politics in Iran is the fact that there are powerful factions tied to foreign interests that can sabotage national interest. The US has it even worse. Whereas in Iran these foreign sponsored factions have to dress their intentions in pseudo nationalistic or at least a semi rational guise, in the US, the AIPAC and many more organizations like them, along with their political wing in the houses of congress and the media, openly put the interests of a foreign power ahead of the US and no one seems to mind!
    They don’t even need to care about public opinion, which in a democracy should matter. They openly and unashamedly do their thing and no one dares to do anything against them.

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