On January 13 and 14, Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the confirmation process for her nomination to be Secretary of State. She was approved by the committee 16 -1 and is sure to win confirmation in the Senate.
While the office has undergone many changes since it was established in 1789, for several generations the State Department has concentrated on diplomacy in all aspects of foreign-policy. However, in her testimony before the committee, Clinton said she would use “smart power” including “diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural.” To some, the inclusion of “military power” as though it were within her authority, was a surprise. Further, she went on to specify that “military force will sometimes be necessary, and we will rely on it to protect our people and our interests when and where needed as a last resort.”
Clinton’s “last resort” became clear when she discussed relations with Iran saying “We are not taking any option off the table at all.” That is breathtaking and frightening. For more than a year, the US has been openly threatening to bomb Iran and one of the options is the use of nuclear weapons. “All options are on the table”, said President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and most of the candidates in the 2008 presidential race.
Such threats are irresponsible and dangerous. Eight other countries have nuclear weapons and they all have real or perceived potential enemies. The weapons are on hair trigger alert as the controlling military scan potential enemies for indications of a possible nuclear strike. Threats, direct or indirect, as in “all weapons are on the table”, set up unstable situations that might lead to their use through error or faulty intelligence. Take them off the table.
All nations should publicly pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons-or threaten to use them. United Nations Charter, Article 2, Section 4, states that “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” When the US Congress ratified the Charter and the President signed it, the Charter became United States law. Any threat violates American law.
President Obama: tell your appointees to stop saying “All options are on the table.” The world knows this threatens the use of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction that would unleash a hell on earth that might destroy civilization. Please stop it now: Yes, you can.
This post originally appeared on Relentless Liberal on Sunday, January 18, 2009.