By Kasia Anderson
Aug 11, 2007
A year ago, Hillary Clinton said she “would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table” when it came to confronting Iran about its expanding nuclear program. That comment contrasts conspicuously with her more recent statement, on Aug. 2, in response to fellow Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s similar statement that nuclear weapons were “not on the table” for him in a hypothetical discussion about targeting terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Presidents should be careful at all times in discussing the use and nonuse of nuclear weapons,” Clinton countered later that same day. “Presidents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrents to keep the peace, and I don’t believe any president should make blanket statements with the regard to use or nonuse of nuclear weapons.”
Once again, as with her stance on the Iraq war, Clinton’s record has been inconsistent when it comes to how, when and against whom she would take military action were she to become the U.S. commander in chief. Perhaps she has decided, or been urged by her advisers, to strike an aggressive pose in order to compensate for being a woman in a race for the presidency, a situation that some voters might view as virtually irreconcilable. But balancing “I’m your girl” wink-wink affability with “I can play with the big boys and their big guns” credibility is one thing, and going so far as to introduce even the dim possibility of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in a notoriously volatile region is entirely another.
In their coverage, such as it was, mainstream media outlets largely focused on Clinton’s apparent self-contradiction—as her campaign reps gestured at contextual differences in an attempt to integrate her two remarks—or on her bids to cast Obama as a foreign policy neophyte. However, for Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the biggest issue raised by Clinton’s comments isn’t so much consistency as it is her character, and by extension her ability to effectively serve as America’s president. Here, Kucinich sounds off to Truthdig’s Associate Editor Kasia Anderson about his concerns about Clinton’s nuclear politics and their global implications.