Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Edwards flip-flops on Israel

Two nights ago, I noted that it was a bit odd for John Edwards, who made a strong pro-Israel speech at the Herzliya Conference two weeks ago, to appoint Amanda Marcotte to handle his relations with the blogosphere. Now that appointment is a bit clearer: Edwards is a flipper. And he has flip-flopped on Israel, presumably to satisfy the extreme left wing of the Democratic party from which the likes of Amanda Marcotte and Markos “Screw Them” Moulitsas have emerged. This is from tonight's edition of James Taranto's Best of the Web:
Indecision 2008--II

Yesterday we noted Sen. Hillary Clinton's maddeningly noncommittal comments about Iran at last week's American Israel Public Affairs Committee dinner. On Sunday her fellow Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards gave an interview to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," in which he engaged in similar circumlocution:

Russert: Would President Edwards allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon?

Edwards: I--there's no answer to that question at this moment. I think that it's a--it's a--it's a very bad thing for Iran to get a nuclear weapon. I think we have--we have many steps in front of us that have not been used. We ought to negotiate directly with the Iranians, which has not, not been done. The things that I just talked about, I think, are the right approach in dealing with Iran. And then we'll, we'll see what the result is.

Russert: But they may get one.

Edwards: Yeah. 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.
Compare this with what Edwards said on the subject Jan. 22--just 13 days earlier--when he delivered an address by satellite to Israel's annual Herzliya Conference:
Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. . . . Once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel's neighborhood much more volatile.

Iran must know that the world won't back down. The recent U.N. 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.
Last week Ezra Klein of The American Prospect, a liberal-left magazine, asked Edwards about the Herzliya speech, and he sounded quite a different note:
Klein: So, I just want to get it very clear, you think that attacking Iran would be a bad idea?

Edwards: I think would have very bad consequences.

Klein: So when you said that all options are on the table?

Edwards: It would be foolish for any American president to ever take any option off the table.

Klein: Can we live with a nuclear Iran?

Edwards: I'm not ready to cross that bridge yet. I think that we have lots of opportunities that we've . . . We're not negotiating with them directly, what I just proposed has not been done. We're not being smart about how we engage with them. But I'm not ready to cross that bridge yet. And I think the reason people react the way they do--I understand it, because, when George Bush uses this kind of language, it means something very different for most people. I mean when he uses this kind of language "options are on the table," he does it in a very threatening kind of way--with a country that he's not engaging with or making any serious diplomatic proposals to. I mean I think that he's just dead wrong about that.
The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum, an Edwards admirer, is critical, but not critical enough:
Technically, there was no contradiction between what he said in these two venues. At the Israeli conference he did mention direct engagement with Iran, even if it was only in response to a question at the end. And with the Prospect, he did say that all options had to be left on the table--including, presumably, military action. Still, you'd barely know it was the same person talking if you read both conversations with no names attached.
No contradiction? In Herzliya, Edwards said unequivocally, "Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons." In the Klein interview, he said, "I'm not ready to cross that bridge yet." Granted, we're not dealing in the realm of pure binary logic, but it seems to us that Edwards's coy "I'm not ready" makes nonsense of his resolute "under no circumstances." And that "yet" suggests that it is only a matter of time before he crosses the bridge.

At a time of international peril, the president must have the capacity to be steadfast. Edwards lacks the capacity even to seem steadfast. If he backs down so easily under the pressure of domestic intraparty politics, how can we trust him to protect America's interests when negotiating with a vicious adversary?


Post a Comment

<< Home