Hillary Clinton 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York on Wednesday defended Israel's recent strike on Syria, giving "strong support" to its alleged attack on an incipient nuclear facility.
Noting that much information was still lacking as to the nature of the incident, she said during a debate Wednesday night that, "What we think we know is that with North Korean help, financial and technical and material, the Syrians apparently were putting together, and perhaps over some period of years, a nuclear facility, and the Israelis took it out. I strongly support that."
Clinton also defended her vote in the Senate earlier Wednesday calling for the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be designated a foreign terrorist organization after fellow candidate Mike Gravel, a former Alaska senator, said he was "ashamed" of her vote in favor of what is "essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran."
The Senate resolution, which is not binding, passed by a vote of 76 to 22 with two abstentions, one of them from Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who was also at the debate Wednesday.
Clinton said the IRGC was "promoting terrorism" by making weapons used against US troops in Iraq as well as being "the main agent of support for Hizbullah, Hamas and others."
Designating the IRCG as a terrorist group, she said, would "give us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran."
Gravel was joined in his criticism by former North Carolina senator John Edwards. Edwards praised fellow candidates Joe Biden, a Delaware senator, and Chris Dodd, a Connecticut senator, for voting against the resolution, and said that he personally had "no intention of giving George Bush the authority to take the first step on a road to war with Iran," which he implied the resolution did.
Edwards's comments on the IRGC came in response to a question from NBC moderate Tim Russert on whether he thought Israel would be justified in launching an attack if they felt their security was threatened by nuclear activity in Iran.
He didn't answer the question but, in addition to condemning the IRGC resolution, said there was "a clear, responsible course" for America to take with Iran comprised of "sticks and carrots" of economic assistance on the one hand and economic sanctions on the other.
Clinton had been asked the same question about an Israeli attack on Iran when she referenced the Syrian incident, responding that she wanted to address an actual event rather than a "hypothetical" attack.
Obama, asked the same question, responded: "We are a stalwart ally of Israel and I think it is important to understand that we will back them up in terms of their security."
He added that he had sponsored a bill for tightening economic sanctions and said that, "Until we have gathered the international community to put the squeeze on Iran economically, then we shouldn't be having conversations about attacks in Iran."
Russert also asked New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson whether he would pledge to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power. "Yes," he said. "And this is what I would do. I would approach it through diplomacy. A fundamental goal of our foreign policy should be not to permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons."
He added: "Another cornerstone of our foreign policy should be the strength and the security of Israel. So you cannot deny a nation the right to legitimately defend itself."