Warning that a "nuclear Iran" would pose a threat to Israel and the Middle East in general, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) said last Wednesday that the United States should encourage the demolition of nuclear weapons. She also urged U.N. sanctions toward Iran.
Ms. Clinton spoke on Middle East policy at a Richardson Auditorium event commemorating both the Woodrow Wilson School's 75th anniversary and the creation of the S. Daniel Abraham Visiting Professorship in Middle Eastern Policy Studies. It was named after the former chairman of Slim-Fast Foods, and a long-time supporter of Middle East peace process who helped fund Birthright Israel, a program that sponsors tours of Israel for young American Jews. Mr. Abraham also co-founded the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, a group based in Washington that has supported the Oslo peace accords.
The first holder of the professorship is Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to both Israel and Egypt. Both men were on hand for Ms. Clinton's address, but did not deliver remarks.
Ms. Clinton praised the the mission of the Woodrow Wilson School, saying that its founders had the vision to know that the impact of the "immediate" could have potential adverse effects on the future.
"We need that kind of vision today; we need to hold fast to the core principals and rise to the challenges of our time," she said to a largely supportive capacity crowd.
She also emphasized a need to "overcome ideology and partisanship" and create a unified vision when it came to dealing with particular policy objectives in the Middle East. "We cannot lead the rest of the world without our own vision," she said, adding that increased defense led to "missed opportunities" in the war on terrorism.
In a not-so-veiled criticism of the Bush Administration, Ms. Clinton said that American optimism and the reality of the situation on the ground should create a balance, adding that decisions need to be "evidence-based," rather than carrying out ideology.
"We need leadership throughout the rest of the world, but perhaps leadership is needed the most in the Middle East," she said. Ms. Clinton, the former first lady, and potential 2008 presidential candidate, expressed a strong support for the Israeli state, saying that a stable Israel is the benchmark of of a stable Middle East.
To that end, Ms. Clinton regarded recent comments posed by the newly-elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "outrageous," referring to his call for a summit to determine if the Holocaust did occur.
And at perhaps the most serious moment in her 40-minute address, Ms. Clinton said: "We cannot, should not, must not permit Iran to build nuclear weapons."
The senator also called for an increase in the standard of living for Palestinians and declared that the recent Israeli withdrawals from Israeli-occupied territories were only "part of the equation.
"The Palestinian people deserve a better future," she said, adding that there is a need for Palestinian and Israeli leaders to "engage in a meaningful dialogue." She also said that for the militant faction of the Palestinian population, there were "no more excuses" for continuing a stalemate too frequently punctuated with violence.
As for the war in Iraq, Ms. Clinton said there were "no quick, easy solutions," but that a working government needs to be established. She did, however, acknowledge the progress made in the Middle East: "We have, however, overcome great odds."
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