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Election Edge Analysis

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The Three Presidential Candidates and the Iranian-Israeli Nuclear Conflict

May 19th 2008

Headshots Leaders - Three 2008 Candidates

Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama 

Clinton: If Israel is attacked, I will obliterate Iran.
McCain: I will not allow a Second Holocaust.
Obama: I favor tough diplomacy without preconditions.

 

Where the three presidential candidates stand on the looming nuclear stand-off with Iran and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated promise to wipe Israel off the map?

When recently asked by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly about support for potential pre-emptive Israeli military action against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear infrastructure, Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, in unmistaken words, declared he would “not allow a second Holocaust.” In fact, McCain repeated his promise twice for crystal clarity. McCain added that it is necessary by any means to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear superpower.

For her part, Senator Hillary Clinton has been a strong, lifelong supporter of Israel and outspoken advocate of the US-Israeli relationship. She recently made clear that if Israel was attacked by Iran that she would “obliterate” Ahmadinejad’s nation.

In response to being branded an “appeaser” on the issue of Iran, following the remarks of President George Bush in Israel’s Knesset, Obama stated he favors “tough diplomacy” with Iran and bilateral talks without preconditions.

What does it all mean?

If anyone was told that there was a group of religious fundamentalists bent on world domination, the informant might be considered crazy. But that would be before examining the well-publicized rhetoric and behavior of President Ahmadinejad and Hamas. In this presidential election process there are many issues flying around, but in light of all the media attention Bush has garnered for his comments, the stance of the three presidential candidates on the Iranian-Israeli nuclear conflict leaps to the top. In the event such a conflict breaks out, not a few have warned it might ignite World War III. That would engulf everyone.

In considering any potential war between Iran and Israel and beyond, it is impossible to overlook that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust-denying, Israel-hating, religious zealot. The future he envisions is an Islamic Caliphate established first in the Middle East and then spreading as far as Madrid, Paris and London. From there, this Caliphate could go anywhere. To Ahmadinejad, an apocalyptic conflict would usher in the Islamic triumph he believes history has foretold. He is undeterred by the prospect of conflagration. To him, that is fulfillment. In that spirit, Ahmadinejad has become a delusional, fiery-tongued fundamentalist who is now flexing his muscles in the region on an unprecedented scale.

Indeed, Ahmadinejad’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in defiance of multiple Security Council resolutions demanding that Iran halt its work is only the beginning. Iran is secretly arming and funding insurgents in Iraq that are targeting and killing American troops. The fanatical regime is also sponsoring a violent proxy war in Lebanon where the US-backed Siniora government is trying to defend itself against a brutal takeover by the Iranian-supported terrorist army Hezbollah. Moreover, Tehran is propping up Hamas in Gaza with advanced weaponry to help multiply any coming conflict with Israel. Completing a geographic arc, Iran has brought Syria into its sphere of influence, using that country as a territorial and political accomplice in its regional hegemony and proxy warfare.

Fundamentalists in Iran view America as the great Satan and Israel as the little devil, a mere extension of American power in the Middle East. They despise what the two countries represent: freedom of speech, press, religion, equality for women, a vibrant democracy and a civilized modern western way of life. Ahmadinejad and his supporters are trying to return the Middle East to the dark ages. America and Israel stand in his way.

America’s lame duck President, George Bush, understands that a hard line must be taken with terrorists and that meeting with them, historically, doesn’t work. While in Israel at the Knesset attending the Jewish State’s 60th Anniversary festivities, Bush declared, “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

Many feel that by merely rearranging letters in Bush’s transcript, one could find Obama’s name. But there is no direct reference to the Senator from Illinois. Whoever was intended, Obama, former President Jimmy Carter or others, Bush makes it clear that history has shown that oftentimes talking with these leaders is futile or even dangerous as it can lend them credibility and self-deceive at home. No greater example can be found than the mass murderer Adolf Hitler who used repeated, endless negotiation to stall for time and deceive the world as he launched his programs of oppression, annihilation and genocide across all of Europe.

Anyone who has followed the presidential debates from the beginning remembers the jabbing that ensued during the early Democratic debates after Obama said that he would meet with leaders who other candidates said they would boycott. However, Obama has since renounced that approach, and has spoken in ways more acceptable to the international community. Many find it difficult to know when a candidate is sincere or just saying what needs to be said. In that respect, not a few informed observers find it troubling that Obama was reported as having said, “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally, Israel.” Anyone who knows the real Obama record knows that, in fact, he previously indicated he would sit down with our enemies because communication is important. Perhaps Obama has since come to the conclusion that there is more at stake and has thus changed his position. It is up to voters to decide which story they themselves believe.

The other two candidates have been more consistent in their stances concerning the conflict. Both Clinton and McCain seem to have been staunch supporters of Israel from the beginning.

Balancing Obama’s rhetoric, it is clear that Obama was the chief sponsor of the enabling act for sanctions against Iran. This legislation aids efforts by American states and companies to divest their holdings in Iran in order to help cut off money and resources Iran could use to develop nuclear weapons. Obama also joined other Democrats in denouncing former President Jimmy Carter’s voyage to meet with Hamas leaders.

However, pro-Israel supporters privately harbor strong concerns that whatever Obama says in pubic, he doesn’t really feel it “in his gut.” In other words, like any politician, he only says what is necessary to become elected. What’s more, there is widespread concern among Americans of all stripes that given his liberal view of the world, Obama could engage the worst of America’s sworn enemies without preconditions. Many fear that Obama believes that any problem can be resolved with mere engagement. History disagrees.

Most feel it is critical that this November the country elects a president who must unapologetically understands what’s at stake in the Middle East. Muslim extremists perceive compromise as weakness and only respond to military might and leadership that is unwavering in the consequences that will be exacted for noncompliance. Senators McCain and Clinton are most consistent in their approaches to these rogue nations.

America is still deciding if Senator Obama has the strength and courage to annihilate Iran or anyone else who threatens U.S interests in that region of the world.

Syndicated conservative syndicated columnist and radio commentator Armstrong Williams can be found at www.armstrongwilliams.com.


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