Democratic presidential candidate and New York Senator Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that it might be necessary for America to confront Iran militarily, addressing that possibility more directly than any of the other presidential candidates who spoke this week to the National Jewish Democratic Council. Clinton first said that the US should be engaging directly with Iran to foil any effort to gain nuclear weapons and faulted the Bush administration for "considerably narrowing" the options available to America in countering Iran.
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Still, she said, all avenues should be explored, since "if we do have to take offensive military action against Iran, it would be far better if the rest of the world saw it as a position of last resort, not first resort, because the effect and consequences will be global."
Other candidates who addressed the NJDC only went as far as saying that "no option should be taken off the table" when it came to thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions. All of the major Democratic presidential contenders appeared at the three-day conference, but Clinton received the most time and applause. She hit on the importance of the US-Israel relationship and the need to recover the three Israeli soldiers kidnapped last summer by Hamas and Hizbullah, but she devoted most of her address to domestic issues popular with Jewish Democrats, such as education, healthcare and the separation of church and state.
She also told the crowd in response to an audience question that her husband would serve as an international envoy to rebuild goodwill for Americans around the world if she were elected.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who spoke after Clinton, also suggested that he would use a famous former statesman as an envoy in his administration. In Richardson's case, he was proposing former secretary of state James Baker to serve as a permanent Middle East envoy, a position Richardson would revive should he win the presidency. Baker is a Republican who served under former president George H. W. Bush.
"There has to be bipartisanship in our foreign policy," Richardson told the press.
He also said economic and military aid to Israel should be increased, and that "the cornerstone of my foreign policy in the Middle East would be a strong relationship with Israel."