Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and presidential aspirant, has particular expertise and, I would argue, particular responsibility to speak out on the Iran deal. Other presidential contenders may not have the expertise she does, and they certainly have not been privy to the classified information that she has. Nevertheless, she chooses to remain silent, waiting to see how the wind blows.
But wait. That doesn’t sound like the smartest woman in the universe who is destined to be the next president. So she is now leaking vague hints about her stance to allies. Politico reports:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton favors giving diplomacy with Iran a chance to work but has lingering worries about the country making good on its pledges in the recent interim deal to freeze its nuclear program, as well as its support of global terrorism and the Bashar Assad regime in Syria, a source familiar with her thinking said.
Clinton has not yet commented publicly on the deal, which was arrived at after talks in Geneva between her successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Iranian officials on Saturday evening. And she seems unlikely to jump in with a statement anytime soon.
The double-talk and platitudes don’t really tell us much of anything about her views. Pass sanctions? Wait on sanctions? Eliminate all enrichment or let the Iranians continue in violation of six U.N. resolutions? The on-the-one-hand-but-on-the-other routine is almost comical: “She has her eyes wide open, the allies argue, and has a record of muscularity against Iran, pre-dating her time at State, that speaks to it. She also worries about the fact that the deal doesn’t address Iran’s support of terrorism, a fact that critics of the accord have made note of, and Tehran’s involvement in supporting the regime of Bashir [sic] Assad in Syria.” So which is it — compromise with the state sponsor of terrorism or not?
There is plenty to be worried about. Iran’s plutonium reactor is unaffected by the interim deal. Iran is free to pursue its ballistic missile program. Aren’t these threats to American security? She won’t say.
This is the calculated careerism for which she is famous. Timid when the stakes are high (e.g., she was mum on gay marriage until even Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman made known his support), she has never been one to carve her own intellectual or political space. She was a dutiful senator with no particular achievement. She was a secretary of state with oodles of frequent flyer miles but no doctrine or accomplishment. Like so many celebrities famous for being famous, she is presidential only by virtue of racking up items to put on her resume and coveting the presidency. Perhaps it is time she earned the presidency through political courage or imaginative policy.
In refusing to make known her views on this, as on the Syria debacle, she is trying to deprive critics of later criticizing a misstep. But in fact the misstep is having uppermost in her mind only the zeal for public office. She has her own foreign debacles to deal with (e.g, Benghazi, siding with Hugo Chavez’s stooge in Honduras and the Russian reset). Add to those her reticence on the most important national security issue in decades and you have a 2016 contender who, like the 2008 Hillary, is more a gender symbol than a leader. Perhaps that is why she is beatable by a charismatic and/or truly accomplished competitor.