2008 Presidential Candidates’ Views on the Middle East
[The Senate resolution urging the President to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization read as if] “written literally by the neocons” [and] “it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted. It didn't just give them what they wanted. They acted on it.” (Washington Post, October 31, 2007)
“Iran represents a great challenge for the United States. We can best prevent Iran from threatening our interests and through a ‘smart power’ strategy that will combine carrots and sticks, direct engagement, and international pressure to convince moderate Iranians that they cannot and must not pursue nuclear weapons.” (Statement to the Israel Project, July 19, 2007)
“The Administration's disastrous management of the war in Iraq has created a dangerous situation throughout the Middle East, including in Iran. Iran appears to be supplying weapons and support to America's enemies in Iraq. Moreover, Iran has refused to comply with the international community's strong demand that it give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The situation is extremely serious, but there is a path forward. You should never tie the hands of an American president or take any option off the table, but instead of focusing on military action, we should employ the many carrots and sticks that have not been used to put an end to Iran's nuclear ambitions and to its support of terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere. We first must do everything we can to further isolate President Ahmadinejad from the moderate forces within the country, who want to see Iran succeed economically rather than fail under Ahmadinejad's weak and ineffective domestic policies.
Every major US ally agrees a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and China and Russia both recently voted with the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran. We should continue to work with all these major countries to isolate Iran through diplomatic measures that will, over time, force Iran to finally understand the world community will not allow it to possess nuclear weapons. Working with our European friends, we also need to offer Iran new economic incentives, which the Bush administration has not seriously considered. At the same time, we must use new and more serious economic sanctions to change Iran's course.” (The Jerusalem Post, June, 21, 2007)
"The situation in Iran has only gotten worse under this Administration's approach. Recently, Iran's hardliners rejected the UN's second resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran. Then, Ahmadinejad went ahead and announced his country had started enriching uranium on an industrial scale. Clearly, we need a new direction.
The situation is deadly serious, but there is a path forward. We need to continue to contain Iran through measures that will force the nation, over time, to finally understand the world community will not allow it to possess nuclear weapons.
You should never tie the hands of an American president or take any option off the table, but instead of focusing on military action, we should focus on the many steps in front of us that have not been used. Every major ally agrees a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and both China and Russia recently voted with the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran. We should continue to work with all these parties to help us put a system of carrots and sticks in place.
We first need to be negotiating directly with Iran. Communication will give us more information and more control. At the height of the Soviet Union, we still talked with the Kremlin, and we talked with China at the height of tensions. It's good that the Administration has just begun to talk with Iran, but in many ways these short talks are too little, too late. We need a fundamental re-engagement of the country.
For carrots, we should make nuclear fuel available to Iran and control the cycle, but allow Iran to use the fuel for any civilian purpose. Second, we need to offer an economic package. The Iranian economy is already struggling, and this would be very attractive to the people.
And, for sticks, we need to threaten much more serious economic sanctions if Iran continues its nuclear operations. We also need to take steps to isolate Ahmadinejad, so that the moderates and those within the country who want to see Iran succeed economically, can take advantage of it.” (The Jerusalem Post, June 7, 2007)
“The international community has repeatedly called for an end to Iran's nuclear program, citing abundant evidence of the regime's determination to obtain nuclear weapons. Given Iranian President Ahmadinejad's previous threats against Israel and his rampant Holocaust denial, we must take such words at face value.” (May 2006)
“It's important for America to confront the situation in Iran, because Iran is an enormous threat to Israel and to the Israeli people.” (October 2004)
Hamas and the Situation in Gaza:
“The situation in Gaza is deeply troubling. It is a nightmare for the Palestinian people and a threat to Israel. We need to adopt a policy of constant engagement aimed at results, not rhetoric. We need to work with moderate leaders in the Palestinian Authority and throughout the region who renounce violence, recognize Israel, abide by past agreements, and want to work toward a two-state solution.
By isolating radicals from moderates, we can illuminate for Palestinians the fundamental unworkability of the radical political model. We must also support President Abbas' legitimate government and use our diplomatic and financial resources to support his moderate government.
We must finally engage Iran and use a combination of carrots and sticks to convince them to move away from destabilizing policies like their support of Hamas in Gaza.
The Bush Administration recently managed to have a single meeting with Iran on the subject of Iraq; we should have a policy of consistent engagement on areas of concern including Gaza, Hamas, and nuclear proliferation. There is no guarantee of success, but given the stakes, it makes no sense not to try.” (Jerusalem Post, July 5, 2007)
“Israel has the right to defend itself and aggressively seek the return of Corporal Shalit.” (June 28, 2006)
Negotiations with Syria and Lebanon:
“We must reengage Damascus today with tough diplomacy aimed at highlighting the costs repeating its illegal and destabilizing decisions of the past and at integrating the Assad government as much as possible into the mainstream community of nations. We must also work with the Syrians on Iraq, because they have a strong interest in helping find a regional political solution that will ultimately resolve the conflict there. I support the executive order signed by President Bush last week that would freeze the property and assets of any parties who attempt to undermine Lebanon's democratically elected government. The executive order was a good step in the direction of using diplomacy and carrots and sticks to support stability and the rule of law throughout the Middle East.” (August 8, 2007)
“I think actually Senator Clinton's right, though, before that meeting (with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea) takes place, we need to do the work, the diplomacy, to make sure that meetings not going to be used for propoganda purposes, will not be used just to beat down The United States of America in the world community.” (JTA, July 25, 2007)
The United States-Israel Relationship:
“I strongly support the decision to increase aid to Israel — our ally and partner — to ensure its security, while doing everything in our power to achieve peace and stability in this vital part of the world. Israel and the US have a deep and fruitful friendship...The US must do everything it can, through diplomatic, economic, and military aid, to maintain Israel ’s qualitative edge and keep Israel strong and safe in a dangerous region. America must always stand by our friend, the only democracy in the region.” (Jerusalem Post, August 22, 2007)
“We must demand America's active and continuous involvement in addressing the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and in promoting democracy throughout the Arab world.” (September 2002)
Peace with the Palestinians:
“We haven't done enough to work on the peace process in Israel; we didn't sustain the progress that had been made there.” (January 2003)
“As long as the Palestinian leadership fails to end terror, Israel has a right to take measures to defend itself. Such defensive measures are not the cause of terrorism - they are the response to terrorism.” (January 2004)